Judge refuses to dismiss prosecutor in Rifle murder case
May 15, 2002
Despite an emotional plea Tuesday by public defender Greg Greer to disqualify Ninth District Attorney Mac Myers from the Michael Stagner murder case, Myers will remain as prosecutor.
Greer was just one of several witnesses – including Myers, clerk of the combined courts Jim Bradford and DA victim advocate Vicki Jones – called to the stand during a motions hearing on the Stagner case.
At issue is whether Myers improperly went to Bradford to complain about defense team meetings with victims and how victims were being treated by an interpreter and the public defender’s victim advocate.
After hearing Myers’ complaint, Bradford sought guidance from Judge T. Peter Craven. He later ruled that the interpreter could no longer work with the defense because she would be interpreting during the trial, set to begin July 29.
“No one followed what was even close to due process on this,” Greer testified, appearing upset and speaking with a shaky voice during Tuesday’s hearing. “Any time I get an application [to defend a client], whether it’s popular or unpopular – and I accept that responsibility.
“I rely on the fact that you can trust this process, that you can trust people, that they don’t go behind your back. It has undermined that process,” Greer said. “You say this is a minor issue, but it’s not. It’s a fundamental issue.”
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From the stand, he looked over and apparently saw Myers snickering at the prosecution table.
“You can smirk, Mr. Myers, like you’re doing behind that table,” Greer added.
Later, Myers was called to the stand by Stagner’s other public defender, Jamie Roth, who attempted to prove an appearance of impropriety on Myers’ part. She argued that Myers should be taken off the case and replaced by a special prosecutor.
“When I went to Mr. Bradford, I wanted to know who was paying Ms. DeLeo,” Myers testified, referring to interpreter Maria DeLeo. “I saw what I felt was inappropriate and asked who was paying Ms. DeLeo.”
Myers said he saw DeLeo take victims from their seats in the courtroom, several rows behind the prosecution table, and bring them up to the front row right behind Stagner. Myers said that part of his job as DA is to protect witnesses and victims from the defendant.
“I was just wondering what was going on. I was concerned,” Myers said.
After the witnesses were cross-examined, Craven denied the public defender’s motion to disqualify Myers and suspend the court proceedings.
The judge said he would rule later on other issues raised during the lengthy motions hearing, as many of those issues went beyond the scope of the defense’s original motion.
Craven also ruled that any communication with court clerks by either the prosecution or defense must come in writing and then immediately be faxed to the opposing side.