Time to start worrying about Colleen Truden
People who live in the 9th Judicial District should be able to go to bed at night knowing that the criminal justice system is working as well as it can. Police should be making arrests; the district attorney’s office should be deciding which cases to try and which to plead down; and bad guys should be going to jail.In less than two weeks, the system needs to be firing on all cylinders for two cases involving heinous crimes against children. One is a trial against a former Silt resident who is charged with 10 counts of sexual assault on children; the other is a release hearing from the state mental hospital for a man who sexually assaulted more than 15 children.The very safety of residents in the three counties that make up the 9th Judicial District is at stake with these cases. Disturbingly, District Attorney Colleen Truden has no felony prosecutorial experience herself and has precious little left on her depleted staff. With two such important cases on the docket, it’s time for people to be worried.During her four months in office, Truden has spent what appears to be a great deal of time managing crises of her own making.She has abruptly dismissed deputy district attorneys who tendered their resignations, declining their offers to stay and complete several key cases.She paid her husband at least $6,000 to perform computer work that appears to duplicate work performed by a Glenwood Springs computer consulting firm.She dodged questions from Pitkin and Garfield County commissioners about both the way she’s dealt with staff and her husband’s status at her office. She even went so far as to publicly blame her predecessor, Mac Myers, for some of her administrative problems.And it was reported this week that she allowed repeat offenders to avoid trial and potential felony convictions in exchange for guilty pleas to lesser charges, apparently because her office is so short-handed. Perhaps most disturbing of all is the fact that Truden has had nothing to say to the people she’s supposed to be protecting. Except for a reluctant statement to the Garfield County commissioners about her husband’s relationship with the office, she has done nothing to assure the public that she’s actually in control.Given all that has transpired over the last two months, why should the public trust her to prosecute cases like the two sex crimes ones scheduled for court on May 31?Colleen Truden was elected by the public to serve and protect the public. But with her nepotism, the generous plea agreements she’s offered in recent weeks, the unnecessary dismissal of her most experienced attorneys, the apparent mismanagement of her office and her unwillingness to explain her actions, it appears the only person Colleen Truden is protecting or serving is herself.Given the seriousness of these upcoming cases, it’s time for 9th District residents to be worried.
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