The Challengers: Beeson | AspenTimes.com

The Challengers: Beeson

Chad Abraham

Kara K. Pearson/Post Independent

On a three-plus-hour drive to a seminar in Denver with Colleen Truden after she took office, Martin Beeson remembered thinking that perhaps her transition might be smoother than he thought.The agreeable feeling continued through dinner, he said. “We had a good conversation; I felt good about the relationship,” Beeson recalled. “I know she wasn’t completely forthright in the campaign, [but] I just attributed that to politics. I felt like I was forging a good relationship with her.”Things changed in early April, when Truden called a districtwide meeting. Beeson said the offices in Aspen and Meeker closed down so staff could travel to Glenwood Springs.At the meeting, Beeson said employees went through a “bizarre exercise.”There was a list of the staff members – including Truden’s husband, Beeson said – and employees had to assign a flower to the name depending on what they thought of the person. The same was done with animals.

“I looked in the back of the room; Gail Nichols had arrived from Aspen, and she sat in the back, away from everybody else,” he said. “I could see from her face that something was terribly, terribly wrong. She did not participate at all in the silly little exercise we were doing.”Beeson learned after the meeting that Truden, her top assistant, Vince Felletter, and an investigator from the office had gone up to Aspen that morning and berated Nichols. He also learned that she had resigned.”That’s when I began to realize that things aren’t as they appear on the surface,” Beeson said.Soon after, on April 19, Beeson watched as Deputy District Attorney Jeff Cheney was escorted from the office a day after turning in his resignation. Four days later, the 49-year-old Beeson resigned. Then, with Cheney and others, Beeson helped organize the recall of his former boss. And in mid- to late June, when he realized no other candidates were forthcoming, Beeson decided to run for office.”At that point, I decided not to seek any other job interviews. [My wife and I] decided if we’re going to do this, we’re gonna go all in and be totally committed to the campaign,” he said.

A former partner in a law firm and a judge pro tem in Los Angeles County, Beeson moved to Colorado Springs in 1995. He worked there as a municipal court prosecutor – a job similar to Truden’s previous position as municipal court judge in Glenwood Springs.Then, in 1999, Beeson moved to Beijing, where he taught university courses in international relations and international law. He later taught at a private university in Turkey. Beeson returned to the states in 2003 and was hired to be a deputy prosecutor by former 9th Judicial District Attorney Mac Myers. He said he respected and appreciated how Myers managed a “professional” office and interacted with deputies and administrative staff.”Mac was fair, knowledgeable, helpful and he was kind. I worked hard for Mac, and I wanted to make him look good,” he said. “I wanted to do the same thing for Colleen. I don’t care who my boss is: Treat me fairly, be professional and don’t create a hostile work environment.”And this, he said, is not what happened with Truden at the helm. Beeson has joined other former deputy prosecutors in accusing Truden and Felletter of instilling an atmosphere of animosity and distrust. Beeson has also questioned her handling of cases, saying citizens feel less safe with her in office.He further claims Truden’s description of her criminal law experience during the primary campaign in the summer of 2004 was deceptive. The district attorney’s latest newsletter, portions of which are identical to what is printed on the ballot in her defense, states she has 23 years of criminal law experience. Beeson isn’t impressed.”She’s never done a criminal docket as a prosecutor, she’s never done a jury trial,” he said.

After more than two decades working in the law field, Beeson said he has learned a lot. At first, “I did want to do something where I could help people.” He now realizes there is more to it. Helping people was satisfying, but there was always something missing.”I finally realized later, when I became a prosecutor, [that] as a civil lawyer I was basically a conduit through which money passed, either [to or] from my client,” he said. “When I got into prosecution, at the end of the day I could go home and I’d think, ‘You did more than just pass money from one side to another. You helped somebody out, you helped the community out.'”And if elected, Beeson knows the transition won’t be easy; he expects plenty of public scrutiny, as well. But he reiterated that something has to be done to change the leadership of the 9th Judicial District.”We believe in this,” he said. “We believe in the principles that are involved, and we believe that with hard work and staying true to the message and getting the message out, that ultimately the voters of this district are going to make the right decision.”