Contempt case against TRIDENT officers dismissed
August 14, 2008
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Chief District Judge James Boyd has dismissed a contempt of court citation against two members of the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team.
A two-day hearing on the contempt citation scheduled to begin Wednesday was canceled; Boyd signed a July 23 order dismissing the charges.
Attorney Chip McCrory had accused TRIDENT of failing to obey a March 19 subpoena and disclose records about a confidential informant in Nichole Brownell’s 2005 drug distribution case. District Judge Denise Lynch signed a May 9 citation and order for TRIDENT agents to show cause why they shouldn’t be held in contempt of court. It could have led to fines or jail time.
Attorney Kenneth Jaynes was appointed as a special prosecutor to handle the contempt charges. He investigated and asked Boyd to dismiss the citations. Jaynes concluded that TRIDENT provided its records to the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, and that he doesn’t know of any criminal investigation records that haven’t been given to the defense in Brownell’s case, according to Boyd’s order.
“Special counsel has concluded all records have been produced, albeit not in specific response to the subpoena,” the order says. “The production of records eliminates the merit or reason for an order for remedial contempt.”
Jaynes and McCrory couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.
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Jaynes doubted any violation of the subpoena was intentional and determined that the evidence wouldn’t prove that beyond a reasonable doubt. He found information that “could support a conclusion” that two TRIDENT agents did not comply with the subpoena, the order says, but his investigation “revealed the probability of complete disclosure of information by TRIDENT to the District Attorney.”
Former Deputy District Attorney Amy Fitch wrote months ago in a court document that the prosecution doesn’t have access to TRIDENT’s files regarding confidential informants. She added that TRIDENT wouldn’t tell her whether or not the person McCrory asked about was a TRIDENT informant. She called McCrory’s efforts “a fishing expedition.”
A May 1 TRIDENT letter copied into court records says a TRIDENT task force commander lost “100s” of TRIDENT records in Feb. 2005 while trying to back up a computer intelligence system. It says TRIDENT recovered information such as names and social security numbers, but lost other information such as narratives. McCrory argued that TRIDENT should still have records on the informant from after the records were lost.
Messages to Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario and to a TRIDENT office weren’t immediately returned.
The contempt citation originated from Brownell’s August 2005 drug distribution arrest. TRIDENT obtained a search warrant for her Rifle home and allegedly found over 180 grams of marijuana and much smaller amounts of cocaine and methamphetamine.
TRIDENT said it also found scales, small Ziploc bags and surveillance cameras used to monitor the doors of the home. The case is still ongoing.
Brownelll was convicted May 21 of two counts of being an accessory to the 2006 nonfatal shooting of former Colorado State Patrol Trooper Brian Koch. She’s expected to be sentenced next Friday.