Law & Courts A Washington Roundup

High Court Declines Case Involving Columbine Parents

By Caroline Hendrie — March 01, 2005 1 min read

The parents of a student killed in the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado lost their bid last week to have the U.S. Supreme Court review a lower-court decision that blocked them from backing out of a legal settlement with the parents of the two student gunmen.

Michael and Vonda Shoels argued that they never intended to agree to an out-of-court settlement with the parents of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who together shot 24 people during the notorious shooting spree at Columbine High School in the Jefferson County school district on April 20, 1999. The pair fatally shot a teacher and 12 students, including the Shoelses’ son Isaiah, before committing suicide.

A U.S. District Court judge in Denver did not accept the parents’ argument that they had only appeared to accept the settlement because of a mistake by their lawyer’s office, and therefore were denied their right to a jury trial. The judge ruled in 2003 that the agreement was enforceable. It called for the parents to release their claim in exchange for receiving a share of a $1.5 million fund set up by the Harris and Klebold families.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver, upheld that ruling last summer. On Feb. 22, the Supreme Court declined without comment to take up the family’s appeal in Shoels v. Klebold (Case No. 04-710).

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A version of this article appeared in the March 02, 2005 edition of Education Week

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