Truden fails the trust test, needs to come clean
It’s time for District Attorney Colleen Truden to come clean.Over the past few weeks, citizens in the 9th Judicial District have watched as attorneys have left her administration, leaving Truden with a staff just a fraction of the size needed to do the job. Several of these lawyers say they had intended to continue working for Truden for a few weeks or a month, but were then abruptly dismissed before their time was up.On the face of it, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this; a district attorney certainly has the right to hire and fire employees, and a degree of turnover is to be expected with a change of administration. However, from a management standpoint there’s something troubling about these events. Why get rid of these attorneys so quickly when there’s nobody to take their place? What happens to the caseload? Will criminals just go free for a lack of prosecutors?And it just gets more troubling from there.When she appeared recently before the governing boards of Pitkin County and Garfield County, Truden denied any of these prosecutors had been escorted out of their offices. Since then, several of these assistant district attorneys have publicly rebutted Truden’s version of events.Beyond that, in an apparent conflict of interest, Truden appears to have hired her husband to do some contract work for her office. Worse, when originally asked about it by the Pitkin County commissioners, she was evasive, answering that Fred Truden was not on her payroll. She later told the Garfield County commissioners that, in fact, her husband had been paid to work on the office’s computer system. At the least, this is curious behavior for an elected official. At the worst – nobody’s quite sure at this point what’s going on – we have a public prosecutor who is being less than truthful to elected boards within her jurisdiction and to the public. Whatever the case, regardless of who is twisting the truth, the 9th District has a district attorney whose reputation and credibility have been severely tarnished.When asked by The Aspen Times during her campaign about her philosophy for the district attorney’s office, here’s what Truden answered: “I see a job where the people have trust and confidence in the elected official – to protect them and keep them safe. A person for whom the people within the office have trust and confidence, and with whom they have an open and professional working relationship.”Whatever her skills and strengths, Colleen Truden has failed to establish that trust and confidence.The citizens of the 9th Judicial District deserve to hear clear answers from their district attorney to the following questions and arguably a number of others: How were the various prosecutors dismissed and why? What work did Fred Truden perform for the district attorney’s office? Is he still working there and how much has he been paid? Was the job bid out or just given to him? And, perhaps most important, what is Colleen Truden’s plan to set her administration back on course and restore her own credibility?It’s time to come clean.
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