Truden loses seventh deputy | AspenTimes.com

Truden loses seventh deputy

John Colson

A seventh deputy district attorney has resigned from the 9th Judicial District office since Colleen Truden took over in January.Citing a hostile work environment, Katie Steers, 28, who worked on the county courts docket, quit on Thursday after working for the district attorney’s office since March. Her resignation took effect immediately.In a three-paragraph letter to Truden on Thursday, Steers said she “simply cannot work where normal standards of respect and courteous behavior are not observed.”Moreover, I cannot meet my obligations to our legal profession, our oath of office and those that we serve if I were to continue employment under such negative and hostile circumstances, all of which appear to have spiteful and harmful motivations.”Steers, reached late Thursday, said her decision to quit was not political. The Denver native said she has no ties to and does not know the people who are behind the recall campaign.She attributed part of her unhappiness to an atmosphere of “pressure in our office not to say anything bad” about Truden and the likelihood of reprisals from Assistant District Attorney Vince Felletter if deputies are seen conversing with defense attorneys who have ties to the recall campaign against Truden.”It’s part of our ethical oath,” she said, to not judge the merits of a case or the potential for plea bargains based on “who opposing counsel is and what they’ve said bad” about the district attorney.”As attorneys, we’re supposed to be above that,” she said.Steers said she was skeptical about the claims of those behind the recall when she started the job and was eagerly anticipating her first job after graduating from law school, but she said she soon thought differently.After working for Truden for a while and learning the issues behind the recall effort, she said, “They’re [the recall organizers] hitting it on the head.” She accused Truden of “starting to lie about what is going on. I can’t be a part of it. For my own professional well-being, I had to get out.”Steers’ resignation was the second among attorneys Truden hired to fill vacancies left when five holdovers from the previous district attorney, Mac Myers, quit earlier this year. The other one, Roaring Fork Valley native Tony Hershey, quit a few weeks ago, calling Truden “paranoid” and saying he could no longer work “in an atmosphere of abuse, disrespect and outright hostility.”I hope there’s someone there to turn the lights out when everybody’s gone,” Hershey said Thursday.Truden also has lost several staff members and has come under criticism for hiring her husband to do computer work in her office and for not managing her budget and internal office financial matters to the satisfaction of the Garfield County Commissioners or members of the public. An effort to gather signatures to bring a recall to a vote is under way.Truden did not return calls to her office or her home Thursday.Steers added that she had gotten along well with Hershey before he quit and that “ever since he left, their treatment of me has been very poor and unprofessional.”She said she has no job prospects at present, adding, “This is scary for me. I hope this happening doesn’t ruin my chances for employment elsewhere.”John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com