Matt Ferguson: Guest Opinion |

Matt Ferguson: Guest Opinion

Matt Ferguson
Aspen CO, Colorado

I am an attorney representing some of Aspen’s restaurant owners in a suit against Jim Blanning or what’s left of him ” an estate. That you have more pity than “sympathy” for Blanning suggests you have sympathy for him in the first place, an emotion sorely misplaced.

Legal action is the opposite of “retaliation” ” and access to the courts is a right. I suppose had Blanning stayed alive a prosecution would have been, in The Aspen Times’ eyes, “retaliation” against another “disturbed and distraught” local guy and you all would have been there championing an insanity plea.

Because there is no “body” to prosecute, the victims have no criminal forum where their rights are considered. New Year’s Eve’s victims would have had the right to speak in court and seek compensation, but Blanning “off-ed” that opportunity. That The Aspen Times thinks legal action makes people laugh at Aspen ignores that your parent company reported the lawsuit, the wires picked it up and every day your press prints far more fodder for outside “ridicule.” Any joke on us is by you.

I have handled several terrorism cases. This was terrorism (read the federal statute) and it cost us dearly even though, luckily, the lout failed in actually detonating his IEDs. My kids were too scared for the downtown ice skating parties and I realized that all of our children have grown up on Columbine and Sept 11. How were you editors touched? Well at least you get to take another cheap shot at my friends and partners and get to report snidely about a mysterious philanthropist. I do not run in your “in the know” circles so I have no idea who this person might be ” but thanks for an act of kindness by someone. I doubt that legal action will stop further acts of kindness ” just maybe there will be more despite The Aspen Times’ twaddle.

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Play the “sympathy card” ” what ever does that mean? These local business and our own neighbors are reeling from a wretched economy and then lost their biggest revenue night. They have every right to use the courts and band together for help.

Explain, too, just what “good will” the bomb scare generated. Is there a FEMA check or grant or law being passed to help my clients? Our firm’s young lawyers and dedicated staff have spent a helluva lot more time working to help Aspen’s own who are really hurting than it took you all to scribble another predictably feckless “opinion.” The complaint will have far more thought in its sentences than this fish wrap drivel, but our deadlines are sensitive to both accuracy and common sense.

We lost many friends in New York City and many friends lost their businesses and that economic damage then washed across the country because of flying bombs. My physician-parent’s hospital on my home’s block had the thousands of desperate searching family notes and photos of ones lost. No survivor came to any hospital just the exhausted fire and policemen. Evacuating Aspen was no joke for me and many others who have been near or impacted by any “ground zero” anywhere, from Denver to Oklahoma or Moscow to Madrid. I met and worked with the families of every victim on Pan Am 103 and the Pan Am Karachi hijacking on three continents. I saw my friends at Pan Am lose a great American company and thousands of jobs because of a bomb. I learned too much about terrorism and bombs. My wife’s best friend had federal marshals at my wedding because her husband was brave enough to prosecute bombers. I know first hand and too well the pain of bombs, and I also know the goodness and strength of people who endure the unimaginable and the heroes who risk all to help.

The courts provide a place for some measure of justice even if it is just to be heard. You have no place degrading that right. Your “op-ed” crew clearly does not understand our system or the good judges and “court officials” who every day allow the catharsis so needed by any victim, whether it be for a mugging, a robbery, a murder, a rape or a bomb evacuation that forces someone to abandon their business in minutes and leave behind lifeblood in investment and sweat.

Law enforcement did a great job that dreadful night and likely averted tragedy beyond even the brilliant wordsmiths’ abilities at your company. The costs to the taxpayers in emergency response were enormous ” can I have your approval then to represent those agencies too ” some have asked? Economic damage from terror is bad enough and luckily, The Aspen Times did not have to report any actual carnage and Friday’s “op-ed” weavers are still safely behind their word processors. Isn’t it grand to have all the rights that my profession has safeguarded for your estate, but take cheap and ignorant shots at mine?

It remains to be seen if this character should have been back on the streets in the first place. I had also dealt with Blanning’s and his friends’ land schemes and antics in our courts too. Judge DeVilbiss sentenced Blanning to 16 years. I can tell you for certain that the families relying on restaurant income that night and the businesses subjected to ruinous waste wish he had been kept right there. The Aspen Times has pity and sympathy for Blanning. In my office, the victims get the compassion.

The Aspen Times is out of bounds calling a lawsuit a “shakedown.” My word ” Blanning was the one in shakedown mode, not his victims.

We work every day with the very “court officials” you are so concerned about. They are awesome, dedicated and professional folks. Those courthouse doors are open and our courts provide the one place a citizen can actually have a branch of government really hear them. Try that in Denver at the Statehouse or in the Capitol. Nary a worry Aspen Times, all the court filing fees will be paid. The Aspen Times actually alludes to the hundreds of thousands of dollars in emergency response alone squandered by New Year’s Eve’s episodes, and then compares that to and drolly complains about the “costs” in “court official” time? Did you even think before you pushed send?

Bringing this lawsuit is our honor and I can assure The Aspen Times that the taxpayers it so transparently feigns to champion in a slow-news-day rant will not pay a “steep” price in “court official” time. That’s a real stretch guys as is the suggestion that the landlords should automatically pay Blanning’s tab. You guys can’t even handle a story with an actual villain, but just revert to the tired landlord shtick.

Thanks for confirming that our work on this case is important.

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