DA Truden’s demise is just a matter of time | AspenTimes.com

DA Truden’s demise is just a matter of time

Michael Cleverly

It seems that downvalley law enforcement has decided to take their pet district attorney out for a test drive. You know, get a feel for her, see how she handles. This is evidenced by the fact that District Attorney Colleen Truden and her personal weasel, Assistant District Attorney Vince Felletter, have decided to prosecute 14-year-old Eric Stoneman as an adult in the murder of 9-year-old Taylor DeMarco. Now this Stoneman boy may well be an evil sociopath, I don’t know, but no rational person would let these two babysit that kid in “The Exorcist,” let alone have a say in the fate of this 14 year old. If convicted as an adult, the child would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. Felletter has stated the death penalty is also being considered. They’re getting tough on crime. So we, as a society and a community, will have a choice between warehousing a 14-year-old boy for the next 60 or 70 years, or simply putting him to death. Those are what Truden and Felletter consider reasonable options. Those, or not guilty. This is high-quality thinking if I’ve ever witnessed it.Two months after DeMarco’s death, a petition to recall Colleen Truden was submitted to the state of Colorado. Two weeks after that, Truden and Felletter announced they were going to charge Stoneman as an adult. While Truden’s office claims the two situations are unrelated, the only defense Truden has been able to mount of her troubled tenure in office is that she’s tough on crime. That her numbers are up. Local defense attorneys suggest that prosecutors have been known to overcharge and overprosecute cases in order to inflate statistics. You know, use people – guilty or not – for political gain. They also point out that being charged, and being convicted, are two different things. “Trial season is coming up, a lot of these cases will be thrown out, a lot of them will be lost,” commentated one local legal eagle. This situation will be complicated by the fact that Truden’s office has driven away all of its talent, and has not been able to attract any new experienced lawyers. It is basically being staffed by kids with learner’s permits.In a Rocky Mountain News report by Charlie Brennan, Mary Ellen Johnson, director of the Pendulum Foundation, an advocacy group for children convicted as adults, stated she “absolutely” believes Truden’s actions were politically motivated. Truden responded with something akin to “liar, liar, pants on fire.”It’s Truden’s motives that have been so unfathomable in almost every decision she’s made since assuming office. Why would she lie to the county commissioners? Why would she lie to her staff? Why would she make a grand gesture of trying to embarrass former staff members by having them escorted from their offices? Why would she fire a local contractor so she could hire her husband to do a job, and then be so stupid as to stand up and say that she had to hire hubby because there was no one else to do the job? Why would she void her staff’s promised pay increases, and then spend a pile of money to remodel her own office? And then call said staff to suggest they might want to pony up with cash donations to defend her in the recall? Is it possible that the simple, obvious answer – arrogance and stupidity – actually is the explanation?If stupidity is the answer, it would go a long way toward explaining why she and Felletter would try to coerce one lawyer in their office, Katie Steers, into behaving unethically by showing favoritism to defense attorneys whom they consider political allies. Or punish another lawyer, Tony Hershey, for behaving ethically, in establishing professional dialogues with defense attorneys, some of whom they consider the political opposition. This high-class maneuvering has garnered the district attorney’s office an investigation by the Colorado Supreme Court Attorney Regulation Counsel, due to a formal complaint by Steers, and a lawsuit filed on behalf of Hershey.These sort of things tend to add up. A highly placed source has assured me that the downvalley Republican machine, the one that supported Truden in the general election, is fed up. They feel betrayed and have decided that she is too much of a political liability. They are going to ask her to step down for the good of the party. And, I would add, for the good of everyone else in the district. The fact that her most vocal opposition, as well as the two declared candidates for her job, are good Republicans would tend to support this.It seems to me that stepping down would be the best thing for Truden and Felletter, too. I’ve been doing a little research on disbarment. The first thing that I noticed is that lawyers really, really don’t want this to happen to them. The mere mention of the word causes a wince. When questioned about it, answers are often evasive. Even the people who wrote the American Bar Association Rules for Professional Conduct seem to have left things a little murky. No fools here. There are lots of ways the profession can punish an errant lawyer short of disbarment and the line one has to cross to merit the ultimate punishment is vague. Being convicted of a felony is one sure way. Not adequately representing your client is another. As far as I’m concerned, all the people of the 9th Judicial District are Truden’s and Felletter’s clients. If it hasn’t occurred yet, how long can it be before the concept of not adequately representing us will be applicable? The two are surely capable of getting there. I would think a cut-and-run would be a good career move.When I told a lawyer friend that I thought Truden and Felletter would make a dynamite team, clerking and bagging at City Market, his response was, “Do they have a City Market in Guantanamo?”