New faces filling critical courthouse roles in Aspen |

New faces filling critical courthouse roles in Aspen

Charles Agar
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

ASPEN ” Muriel Hale, the upper valley’s new probation officer, knows Aspen.

The 24-year-old was raised in Old Snowmass, attended the Little Red School House as a child and graduated from Aspen High School in 2002.

She earned a degree in sociology ” concentrating in criminology ” from the University of Colorado in 2006, then worked for a private probation company in Denver before becoming the new probation officer here.

“It’s kind of funny to have a real job and be in the town that I grew up in,” Hale said.

Her parents still live in Old Snowmass ” her father is a musician, and her mother works at an orthopedist’s office in Aspen.

A runner and mountain biker, Hale said she is happy to return to where she grew up, and said she’s already run into some old classmates ” a few have even visited her office on probation.

“I think growing up here you understand what it’s like,” she said, adding that while she might know the town, she still has a lot to learn about the courts and about her job.

Some people on probation are shocked to see the petite, 24-year-old woman behind the desk, Hale said, and some even try to take advantage of her.

But while she calls herself a diplomatic person, Hale said she isn’t a pushover.

“I have to make sure that they understand that I’m not a kid and can’t be manipulated,” Hale said of people on probation. “If they violate [probation], we take action and send them back.”

She also makes home and workplace visits to ensure that people are complying with their probation terms.

Hale isn’t the only new face in the courthouse.

Steve McCrohan, 34, formerly of Arapahoe County, is the new public defender, replacing Garth McCarty.

Originally from Evergreen, McCrohan spent time in Australia and Nevada as a kid before college at CU and law school at the University of Arizona.

A father of two kids, ages 2 years old and 10 months old, McCrohan said he needed a change from work in conservative Arapahoe County, and looks forward to being the new public defender in the Roaring Fork Valley.

About 60 percent of the cases he will handle are in Glenwood Springs, but he’ll be the designated public defender on felony cases in Aspen.

His mother also was a public defender, and McCrohan always was attracted to criminal law.

“I guess I’ve always liked helping people,” he said, and being a public defender is an opportunity to help the “most needful” segment of society.

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