Beeson announces new staff
Martin Beeson brought in a new team of 9th Judicial District prosecutors as he officially replaced recalled District Attorney Colleen Truden on Friday morning. A roomful of supporters gave him a hardy cheer after Chief District Court Judge Peter Craven administered the oath of office.Beeson was elected when voters recalled Truden on Dec. 13. He won the election over local attorney Chip McCrory, who ran as a write-in candidate. Also sworn in Friday were Beeson’s new deputy district attorneys, including new Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cheney. Cheney replaces Vince Felletter, who held the post in the Truden administration.Beeson said he told six of Truden’s attorneys he would not retain them. He kept on most of the office staff.
Cheney and Beeson worked together as deputy district attorneys under Mac Myers, who preceded Truden. They both left Truden’s office in April, which triggered a handful of resignations that in part led to the recall campaign.Five attorneys left the office last spring, as well as a number of support staff.Beeson retained Deputy District Attorney Scott Turner, who prosecuted felony cases in Glenwood Springs court.Also returning are Gail Nichols as chief district attorney in Aspen; Jim Leuthauser; Tony Hershey, who will cover juvenile court; and Katherine Steers. Steers brought an ethics complaint against Truden and her office; the state Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel is investigating.Steers will prosecute cases in county court in Aspen.Beeson said Brain Rossiter and Joshua Ritter have agreed to stay on as deputies, at least temporarily.
Russ Wessley remains as deputy district attorney in Meeker.Ed Piccolo will stay on as investigator and Beth Bascom returns as chief investigator. Bascom was an investigator under Myers.Beeson met with Truden on Thursday evening in her office. “I would like to thank Colleen Truden for her efforts in this transition,” Beeson said. “She went out of her way to be gracious and kind.”He said his first order of business will be to go through all the active case files to determine if appropriate charges and plea bargains were filed.He accused Truden of routinely overcharging criminal offenses.
“We know the dockets are seriously backlogged, and that has to change,” Beeson said. “We are going to check the charges, and if we feel they are not appropriate or excessive we will promptly move to dismiss them [and refile].” As to plea bargain offers now on the table, Beeson said, “If they are appropriate, we will keep them, and if not [we’ll] change them.”The mission of his office, he said, is not to put a priority on a high conviction rate. “We are not in this to get convictions. We are in this to pursue justice. It’s a different obligation than a defense attorney.”Beeson admitted he was nervous about taking on the job but confident that with the right people in place he was up to the task.”What an awesome responsibility. I’m very humbled with the trust and confidence the people of this district placed in me,” he said. “I’m greatly honored.”
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