Mesa Clerk Tina Peters cited for contempt of court

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The Mesa County Justice Center in Grand Junction, Colorado, Jan 21, 2022.

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters has been cited for contempt of court for recording a court hearing when she wasn't allowed to, and then lying to the judge about it.

She will have a hearing at the end of the month where she can offer a defense for her actions. A judge will determine any penalty at that time.

In announcing the contempt citation, Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubenstein noted that Peters' conduct could have warranted criminal charges, but that pursuing them would have taken much longer and involved considerable expense.

According to court documents, the incident occurred while Peters was attending a hearing in the case of her deputy clerk, Belinda Knisley, who has been charged with burglary and misdemeanor cyber crimes for allegedly entering the clerk’s office when she had been ordered to stay away, and trying to access the election office’s secure computer systems using Peters’ login information.

During the hearing, a paralegal noticed Peters using her iPad in a way that suggested she was filming, despite a sign saying recordings aren't allowed in the courtroom. Knisley's sister, who was sitting near Peters, later confirmed to an investigator that she believed Peters was recording. However, when the judge stopped the hearing to ask Peters about her iPad, she denied filming anything and suggested she was using it do work.

Separately, Peters is also facing two misdemeanor charges for resisting officers who came to seize her iPad. She is also the subject of an ongoing investigation into her alleged role in an election security breach in her office.