Colo. U.S. Attorney Nominee Withdraws From Consideration
Republicans claimed a scalp today in Colorado as Stephanie Villafuerte, President Obama's nominee for U.S. Attorney for Colorado, withdrew her name from consideration. Her withdrawal comes after last week's call by Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for an investigation regarding the Cory Voorhies matter (background here.)
So, who's left? Bill Thiebaut, Jr. the current District Attorney for Pueblo (south of Colorado Springs) and a former state senator, and John Walsh, an AUSA in L.A. for several years, now in private practice in Denver.
Thiebaut has some good positions. He is opposed to the death penalty and while serving as Pueblo DA, called for the passage of a bill to abolish it, even though it was opposed by the District Attorney's Council and state AG John Suthers. He also opposes mandatory adult sentences for teens. [More...]
Pueblo District Attorney Bill Thiebaut says all teens - and adults - should be considered for rehabilitative treatment and parole. Automatic sentencing measures adopted by the General Assembly strike him as reaching outside the realm of reason, he says.
"We don't want public vendettas; we want public policy for the public good," says Thiebaut, a former state legislator. "In the end, when we reflect on our crime policy, we'll see it's cost us millions or billions of dollars."
Thiebaut, who has been DA since 2005, is a long-time Democrat. His personal campaign contributions show donations to Joan Fitzgerald and Rep. Ed Perlmutter.
In 2001 as a state senator, Thiebaut co-sponsored a bill calling for a study on the death penalty due to concerns of wrongful convictions and arbitrary application. Too bad it didn't pass, but he tried.
In 2002, he introduced a bill to limit police power in forfeiture cases by preventing seizures before charges are filed. (Denver Post, 3/19/02.)
This year, Thiebaut didn't oppose the parole of Donna Yacklich, after she served 24 years of a 40 year sentence for having her abusive police officer husband killed.
According to his stated prosecutorial goals, He also supports diversion and alternatives to incarceration, particularly for first-time teen offenders and the mentally ill and drug addicts.
There are many others who break the law, however, who are not a threat to the community at large and who will only become more of a threat if they are incarcerated – for example, first-time offending juveniles and mentally ill persons who could be stabilized with medications, and drug addicts whose criminal activities would cease if their addictions were held at bay. Toward that end, the District Attorney’s Office continued its Diversion program and worked on the development of new programs.
He also is sponsoring a restorative justice program and obtained a grant for an intensive intervention program. Another of his changes: he announced that his office would be more responsive to the public, open to walk-ins at lunch-time and more involved in community affairs.
On the personal side, Thiebault is married and he and his wife have 15 chidren.
Thiebaut sounds like an excellent candidate for U.S. Attorney. As to John Walsh, the Denver Post endorsed him for Denver DA in 2004, noting his top priority would be enforcement of gun crimes and prosecuting white collar crime. He also supported juvenile diversion and drug courts.
I think Sessions and the Republicans just shot themselves in the foot by forcing Stephanie Villafuerte's withdrawal. She was much more of a hard-line prosecutor than Thiebaut -- and probably than Walsh as well. I believe Stephanie was qualified and ethical, but Thiebault and Walsh seem much more progressive.
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