District attorney off to solid start | AspenTimes.com

District attorney off to solid start

Voters in Pitkin County expressed little doubt when they voted by an overwhelming margin last month to oust 9th Judicial District Attorney Colleen Truden. Their decision appears to be bearing fruit now, as the criminal justice system under Martin Beeson starts to work the way it’s supposed to work.Case in point is Gail Nichols, a veteran prosecutor who worked under former District Attorney Mac Myers and whom Beeson reappointed to manage the caseload in Pitkin County. In her first day back at work, Nichols worked her way through a lengthy docket and began settling cases and reducing charges in cases in which she thought defendants had been overcharged.In one case, a defendant had been charged with felony assault for biting the hand of a jailer after the jailer took away her cell phone. Nichols rightly dropped the felony charge, deciding instead to pursue a disorderly conduct charge – a misdemeanor – in county court. If Nichols’ actions are any indication of what’s in store under Beeson, the future bodes well in all three counties – Pitkin, Garfield and Rio Blanco – that constitute the 9th Judicial District.Beeson’s mandate is to repair a system that had ground to a halt under Truden’s mismanagement, nepotism, public deception and overaggressiveness in charging defendants. He made a good start by hiring experienced prosecutors and giving them the authority to negotiate plea bargains and reduce charges when appropriate.Beeson will hopefully avoid other pitfalls that brought Truden down. One way to do that is to be responsive to his constituents and the press about how he manages his office and the cases that come before him. He can also do his best to work well with police agencies throughout the 9th District. The philosophical differences between the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, for example, are profound. Beeson would do his office and his constituents a service by honoring those differences in his case management and interagency relations.Beeson should also be ready to accept full responsibility for what goes on in his office, putting his ego aside when he makes a mistake and admitting his role. Truden’s refusal to take responsibility for the problems that developed under her leadership no doubt contributed to her demise. Beeson has started out right as the newest district attorney for the 9th Judicial District. We hope he keeps up the good work.

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