Caloia to run for DA in 9th District |

Caloia to run for DA in 9th District

Heather McGregor
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Attorney Sherry Caloia, a Democrat, announced late Tuesday that she will challenge 9th District Attorney Martin Beeson in the November election.

“I was looking to do something new with new challenges. I feel I am very qualified,” said Caloia, 56, of Glenwood Springs.

“Also, I am unhappy with many things going on with the D.A.’s office,” she said. “I have done some defense work, and I have seen and heard about many cases that have been prosecuted that are questionable.”

Caloia said the District Attorney’s Office must use discretion to decide whether a case should go forward. Once a case is seen as legal and provable, prosecutors still need to “use prosecutorial discretion,” she said, and decide whether a case should go forward.

“Many criminal cases are being set for trial. This is because of ill will toward defense attorneys. Meanwhile, civil trials are being put on the back burner because the courts are so crowded,” Caloia said.

Caloia said her platform will center on keeping an open line of communication with defense attorneys, disclosing case information to defense attorneys and making sure the office doesn’t overcharge cases.

“I’m not going to brag about how many hours of jail time I got in a year. We want defendants to not come back to court, so however that gets done is the way it should be done,” she said.

Caloia is a private-practice attorney who also serves as the prosecuting attorney for Carbondale and Basalt municipal courts. She started her law career as a deputy district attorney in Adams County.

She has worked in the state Attorney General’s Office on water-rights cases and in the Garfield County Attorney’s Office handling cases of abused and neglected children. She also served as a contract attorney with the county enforcing child-support orders.

She has served as the town attorney for Eagle, Marble and Palisade and has handled some municipal law duties for Carbondale and Basalt.

Beeson, a Republican from Rifle, applauded Caloia on Wednesday for “having the courage to get in the ring.”

But he immediately attacked her level of experience in prosecuting felony cases.

“Prosecuting parking tickets and barking dogs in municipal court is not comparable to trying murder cases in criminal court,” he said. “You can’t make that leap without the proper training and know-how.

“It appears her primary issue is with my prosecutorial philosophy, which is to be tough on crime and seek justice for victims. When we have sufficient evidence to prosecute, we do so.”

Beeson said his office reaches a resolution in most criminal cases without taking them to trial and at a rate comparable to district attorneys throughout the state.

“But where the rubber meets the road is with prosecuting serious, violent crimes, and she has not enough experience in it. This is a very serious decision for the electorate to make,” Beeson said.

Democrats in the 9th Judicial District, meanwhile, contend that Beeson is not eligible to run for re-election, arguing that his three years in office from 2006 through 2008 serving out the term of recalled District Attorney Colleen Truden counts as a term.

Caloia said she has heard that some defense attorneys in the 9th District might mount a formal challenge to Beeson’s candidacy. She said she agrees, but she won’t be joining them.

“I don’t think I will have time,” she said. “But if people have said they don’t want politicians serving more than two terms, then they should look at Martin Beeson, who is running for a third term.”

Beeson contends that an opinion issued in 2000 by then-Attorney General Ken Salazar supports his ability to run for a second full four-year term. The opinion states that term limits “have no application to partial terms of office, but rather apply only to full terms.”

The 9th Judicial District encompasses Rio Blanco, Garfield and Pitkin counties. The District Attorney’s Office has 35 staff members spread among offices in Meeker, Rifle, Glenwood Springs and Aspen.

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