District attorney apologizes for error in salaries statistics
November 20, 2017
I received a courtesy copy of the letter to the editor authored by Douglas K. Wilson with the Colorado State Public Defender pointing out that I provided false data in my budget letter and oral presentation related to the average annual salary of public defenders. Mr. Wilson provided figures that were substantially different from those that I garnered from an internet search which identified the average annual salary of a Colorado State Public Defender as $115,466. Given the information provided by Mr. Wilson in the letter, I would not rely on the data obtained from the internet search. Rather, I would rely on Mr. Wilson's figures.
I was careless both in my efforts to determine the average annual salary of a Colorado State Public Defender and in using the salary amount in my budget request. I see now I should have confirmed my number with the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender. I did not intentionally engage in dishonesty. I believe in telling the truth, even if it hurts. The truth is my numbers were wrong and I have no one to blame except myself. It is inappropriate to blame The Aspen Times or anyone else for my error. I accept full responsibility and there is no excuse for my hasty research. I sincerely apologize to the commissioners. I have written a letter of apology to them as well as Mr. Wilson.
I believe that public defenders are very important in our criminal justice system and I think they should be paid well for their hard work. I also believe the folks who work at the district attorney's office who work with victims of crime and encounter on a near daily basis human suffering, pain, anger and sometimes injustice, deserve more than is reflected in my proposed 2018 Budget. However, I am deeply sorry for presenting inaccurate data for the purpose of advocating for the employees of the 9th Judicial District Attorney's Office. I accept responsibility for my error.
Jefferson J. Cheney
9th Judicial District attorney
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