Re-elect Beeson as DA |

Re-elect Beeson as DA

The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Incumbent District Attorney Martin Beeson has been branded as an unwavering tea partier hell-bent on locking up criminals and throwing away the keys.

Perhaps that’s a little extreme, but it’s the underlying argument from those who contend that Beeson has failed to deliver justice fairly or properly in the 9th Judicial District, which is made up of Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties.

For sure, Beeson’s office, including its branch in Pitkin County, has not been above reproach since the Republican took the helm after the historic recall of District Attorney Colleen Truden in 2005.

We were especially troubled by the criminal prosecution of two government employees and a subcontractor in the carbon monoxide poisoning deaths of a Denver family of four, which happened during the 2008 Thanksgiving holidays outside of Aspen.

From the beginning, when Beeson’s office called a grand jury in Pitkin County, to the end, when the judge dismissed all three cases because the statute of limitations had expired, this case was rife with problems. As tragic as these fatalities were, we believe this never should have been prosecuted as a criminal case in the first place – it was best left for the civil arena.

Also, Beeson’s office has been sanctioned by district judges multiple times for failing to deliver discovery to defense attorneys in a proper manner.

These instances alone are cause for concern. But are they cause for us to endorse Democrat Sherry Caloia to replace Beeson? We believe they are not.

Caloia announced her candidacy for district attorney in April. But until a month ago, her campaign, at least in Pitkin County, was seemingly nonexistent.

Yes, she’s the prosecutor for the towns of Basalt and Carbondale, so that takes up some time. And she has attended several debates with Beeson, most recently last week in Aspen at the Squirm Night forum.

But her late surge for votes has failed to persuade us she’s primed to lead a three-county district attorney’s office. Caloia has held that she’s ready for the job, demonstrated by her 30-plus years as an attorney in Colorado and a stint as a prosecutor in Adams County.

Her criminal trial experience, however, is lacking. Not once has she prosecuted a murder trial, and while homicide cases are a rare occurrence in Pitkin County, they more frequently are tried in Garfield and Rio Blanco counties.

Caloia says that Beeson’s office is overzealous when it comes to prosecuting crime; yet at the same time, she lambasted Beeson for not prosecuting a white-collar crime in which one of her clients was a victim. That strikes us as wanting it both ways.

Caloia says she would rotate prosecutors at the Pitkin County office with those at Rifle and other smaller branches. We’re skeptical about that tactic. Aspen might not be a hotbed for crime, but we believe it’s important for the Pitkin County office to have steady and consistent presence of prosecutors who work Monday through Friday and are available seven days a week.

If he’s elected, Beeson’s final term will run out in 2016. Caloia has not done enough to show us that she is better qualified than the incumbent Beeson, and party affiliations should not influence how we vote for district attorney. Caloia’s supporters, based on their arguments on her behalf, seem more apt to actually vote against Beeson than vote for Caloia. In attorney-speak, Caloia has failed to make her case.

On Tuesday, we ask voters to re-elect Martin Beeson as district attorney.

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