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Ready, fire, aim

Aspen, CO Colorado

Arnold Mordkin has made quite the name for himself since he took the lead prosecutor’s post in Pitkin County last November. But the way he’s gone about it should raise cause for concern.

Two high-profile felony cases filed by Mordkin have been dismissed by a district judge, most recently the one against 44-year-old Aspen resident Landin Smith. Smith faced up to 24 years in state prison had he been convicted on four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

But Monday, Judge James Boyd tossed the charges on the grounds that there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

And last month, Senior Judge Edwin G. Ruland dismissed two felony sexual assault charges against Aspen yoga instructor Steven Roger. The reason? Not enough evidence.

The dismissals of the felony counts in these cases demonstrate that a pattern of over-charging could be emerging in the local D.A.’s office.

Both Smith and Roger have seen their names dragged through the newspapers because of serious charges. And they are still in legal hot water on lesser charges.

However, it will take years, if not decades, to undo the public scorn they have received, in large part because of Mordkin’s seemingly trumped-up counts.

We understand that a prosecutor’s job is a difficult one, and no one is perfect. There will be the occasional misfire, for sure. It is just part of being involved, on a daily basis, in the legal arena.

But these two dismissals also make us question whether Mordkin is swinging for the fences when it’s not necessary.

Another case of interest is the one involving Mark Joseph Montijo, who was arrested last month after a brawl in front of a downtown Aspen bar. One of the charges against Montijo, attempted second-degree murder, carries a potential penalty of 16 years in prison.

For a bar fight.

We realize the former defense attorney is doing his damnedest to send a message that he has a low tolerance for would-be crooks. But we would respect his approach more if he had sufficient evidence to match the charges.

Otherwise, taxpayer dollars are being wasted with a bogged-down court system, and reputations are ruined for unwarranted charges by a prosecutor who’s rightfully earning the image as a grandstander.


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