- Created on Wednesday, 22 August 2012
- Written by Mark Thompson
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A joint statement published Aug. 21 on the NRHA’s Internet website stated, “NRHA and Allen Mitchels are pleased to report that they have resolved their legal differences. The parties regret that their differences resulted in litigation. The terms of their settlement are confidential. Mr. Mitchels will continue to serve as an NRHA-approved judge.”
Oklahoma County District Court Judge Bryan Dixon had ordered both parties to complete court-ordered mediation by Aug. 15. Both sides were ordered to proceed in “a good faith effort to resolve this case,” the court order signed by the judge said.
The judge’s order required representatives of the NRHA and Mitchels “with full settlement authority” to participate in mediation by mid-August. It also stated both sides “shall pay mediation fees equally unless otherwise agreed.”
Had the two parties failed to reach a negotiated settlement, court proceedings would have continued. A possible pre-trial conference had been set for mid-December.
During a Jan. 21 NRHA board meeting, the association stripped Mitchels of his president’s title, plus event judging and other leadership privileges. In March, Oklahoma District Court Judge Barbara Swinton granted a temporary restraining order that restored Mitchels’ prior NRHA membership privileges, aside from his former president’s title, as long as the court case proceeded. Mitchels fulfilled a court-ordered requirement to post a $50,000 bond, and he regained his NRHA privileges.
Association board members voted to remove Mitchels as NRHA president and revoked other privileges based partly on allegations that with a horse he owned entered, Mitchels abused his president’s status during the mid-December 2011 NRHA Futurity in Oklahoma City. An NRHA inquiry stated during that event, Mitchels stayed at the judges’ hotel, had dinner and drinks with the judges, had conversations with judges beyond the exchange of normal greetings, and spent time in the judge’s room.
The NRHA opposed a March court ruling that restored Mitchels’ NRHA rights, which based on the association’s investigation. According to court documents, it indicated Mitchels’ behavior as NRHA president “created a tremendous amount of anxiety among NRHA staff members, and many feared he would retaliate against anyone who disagreed with him,” court papers stated.Mitchels denied any wrongdoing through his attorneys. His lawsuit alleged the NRHA took his membership privileges improperly and that it published “slanderous comments,” damaging his ability to work as a judge with the NRHA or other associations.