DA disregards Constitution
In his guest opinion, Martin Beeson, chief prosecutor for Pitkin, Garfield and Rio Blanco counties, paints all criminal defense attorneys as enemies of the public, law enforcement and victims, claiming they gum up the system and are insensitive to victims.
In the 35 years of being a criminal defense attorney, I have experienced in my cases why the public needs zealous private attorneys and public defenders for the public, those charged with crimes, and victims.
In Pitkin County, a prosecutor refused to interview witnesses my investigator found who would testify that my black client charged with assaulting four white guys was defending himself. The jury found my client not guilty in 19 minutes.
In Garfield County, a local police department arrested my client based on a photo taken at a drug transaction. After getting the photo, it was clearly not my client. The charges were dropped.
In Garfield County, a client charged with felony menacing refused to take a sweetheart plea offer from the prosecutor, claiming he was not guilty. All evidence seemed to indicate that the client may have been the perpetrator. The night before trial, a witness called me and said she had my phone number for months but was reluctant to get involved. She said she saw everything that happened and it was the alleged victim who had the gun. Charges against my client were dismissed.
In Garfield County, I represented a victim in a case in which the prosecutor dropped the charges against the assailant. I had to convince the chief prosecutor that they could re-file or take the case to the grand jury. The grand jury found probable cause to re-file the case, and the assailant pleaded guilty.
Law enforcement can make mistakes, victims could be lying or could be treated poorly by the prosecutor’s office, prosecutors are at times racist, overly ambitious or incompetent, and defendants can be not guilty. There are some prosecutors who want to have a felony conviction for everyone caught with even the smallest amount of drugs. Without defense attorneys, many injustices to victims and defendants would be perpetrated by prosecutors.
Many of my clients are law-abiding citizens who make a mistake or act out of character because of emotions in a bad situation. They never commit another crime. Without defense attorneys, some prosecutors would railroad these people into accepting felony convictions.
Most of the prosecutors and law enforcement I have dealt with are competent and want to do the right thing. Likewise, most defense attorneys in the Roaring Fork Valley are also good at what they do, are ethical, and concerned about the proper administration of the criminal justice system.
To state that criminal defense attorneys do not serve the public welfare is not truthful, and indicates that Mr. Beeson has no regard for the constitutional right of all citizens when charged with a crime to have legal representation.
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