Families of five Columbine victims trying to sue sheriff, school fire lawyer

Tuesday, December 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) _ The families of five students killed in the Columbine High School massacre have fired the lawyer representing them in wrongful death lawsuits against school and sheriff's officials.

The attorney, Jim Rouse, filed a motion in federal court last week saying a conflict about the future handling of the cases had caused a rift between him and his clients. He wouldn't say Monday whether the problems stemmed from a difference of opinion about whether to settle the lawsuits.

Several families of those killed or wounded at Columbine sued school and sheriff's officials after the attack, claiming authorities didn't do enough to prevent the rampage and botched the response.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock dismissed all but one of the nine suits last month. On Friday, Barry Arrington, the attorney five of the families hired to replace Rouse, asked an appeals court to determine whether Babcock erred in that ruling. The families say entries in Eric Harris' journal shed new light on the case.

Harris and classmate Dylan Klebold launched the nation's deadliest school attack at Columbine on April 20, 1999. They fatally shot 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves.