Worst Prosecutor Comment of the Week

The backdrop to this outrageous comment by a prosecutor post is an Aspen Daily News article about how the budget for the DA's office in the four county district that includes Aspen (Pitkin County) is five times bigger than that for the Public Defender's office. (2/3 of the defendants charged in the district qualify for court-appointed counsel. There are 14 DA's and 4 public defenders.) The Pitkin County Commissioners asked Martin Beeson, the elected District Attorney, to cut 5% off his $3 million budget. Instead, he asked for a $600,000. increase.

When asked about the funding disparity, Beeson responded with:

“Public defenders are not defenders of the public,” Beeson said. “They are not serving the public good. They are taxpayer-funded attorneys for criminals.”

Not serving the public good? Someone needs to clue Beeson in to the purpose of the Bill of Rights. It was designed to protect the rights of the individual accused against the power of the government, by restraining the government's power. [More...]

Put another way, "the Bill of Rights was designed to protect personal liberties from governmental infringement, not to protect private individuals from each other." The framers of the Constitution understood mistakes happen, and it is better that a guilty person go free than an innocent person be convicted.

According to Beeson, the public defender's office:

...abus[es] the 6th Amendment right to a defense counsel by needlessly frustrating the DA’s efforts and using legal loopholes to suppress incriminating evidence against their clients.

Beeson needs to re-read Gideon v. Waignwright, the 1963 case guaranteeing counsel to those who can't afford a lawyer:

The right of one charged with crime to counsel may not be deemed fundamental and essential to fair trials in some countries, but it is in ours. From the very beginning, our state and national constitutions and laws have laid great emphasis on procedural and substantive safeguards designed to assure fair trials before impartial tribunals in which every defendant stands equal before the law. This noble ideal cannot be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him.

Our system is based on the presumption of innocence. When the Government charges an individual with a crime, an innocent person is at risk. Preventing a wrongful conviction should be the first priority.

Beeson is an elected public servant, sworn to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States and Colorado. His views and comments are embarrassing and unacceptable.

He sounds like Dick Wolf, who thinks prosecutors are doing "G-d's work" while the job of defense counsel is merely to get guilty people off.

Prosecutors and public defenders have a few things in common: Both groups have chosen public service, and in so doing, they have sacrificed more financially rewarding opportunities to become overworked and often under-appreciated public servants. Prosecutors have no leg up on defenders in terms of doing G-d's work.

Martin, meet Dick. Dick, meet Martin. You two sound like a marriage made in heaven. But please, get a room in Los Angeles. The last thing we need is Law and Order, Aspen.


Update: Beeson, a Republican, announced he was running for Congress last year against Democrat John Salazar. Then he dropped out because of his high profile cases: Charlie Sheen's domestic violence case and a 12 year old murder case where it will be a year or more before the suspect is extradited back to the U.S. from Britain.

Beeson sounds as bad for America as he is for defendants. On the campaign trail against Salazar.

As Americans, we must re-summon our courage and stand anew for that central value — freedom. Freedom to pursue the destiny God has designed for each of us without fear of Congress confiscating and redistributing destiny’s bounty through the House Appropriations Committee.”
Or, as Colorado Independent described him,
Beeson wants voters to turn with a vengeance on members of Congress whom he feels are fiscally running roughshod on our God-given rights as red-blooded Americans.

And from his aborted congressional campaign webpage: He says he is:

"[A]n honest, proven, Republican leader who will fight every step of the way...... for the right of every person – born and unborn – to live securely in their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” (My emphasis)

Maybe instead of spending thousands on overseas trips for an extradition hearing, he should spend some money on technology so he can keep the people of the 9th Judicial District a little better informed about his office and cases than this.

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    clearly, he's a tad math challenged. (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by cpinva on Fri Oct 22, 2010 at 11:20:29 PM EST
    aside from that, he's every citizen's "wet dream" DA, until, of course, they themselves become ensnared in the legal system.

    funny how that works.

    Or may he just blows through money (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Oct 22, 2010 at 11:46:02 PM EST
    Check this out. He took a deputy DA and two cops with him to London for an extradition hearing in a 12 year old murder case.

    bq.. Being the prosecutor on the case, it was important to be present for the extradition hearing, Beeson said.

    "I made the determination that it would be more cost effective for Mr. Cheney and I to come here and meet with and accomplish initial witness preparation, than it would to try to bring them individually to Colorado," Beeson said. "Given the progress that we've made in that regard, I believe it was a good decision."

    The murder was in Colorado. In 1997. The body was discovered in 2004. The suspect husband was arrested in England in 2009.

    Won't the witnesses have to fly in for trial?

    It's not the only travel:

    Investigation has taken (the deputy sheriffs) to the cities of London and Edinburgh and also to Dublin, Ireland, to interview potential witnesses.

    Travel arrangements were made by and paid for by the Garfield County Sheriff's Office. However, the DA's office will reimburse the Sheriff's Office for its respective costs and expenses, according to Beeson.

    The woman who was killed wasn't even a resident of Beeson's district. She lived in Mesa County (Grand Junction.) Her remains were found in the Beeson's district.

    "Not only is this a murder case, it is one in which the family of the victim has been waiting 13 years for their day in court," Beeson said, adding, "The combined efforts of the Sheriff's Office and the Office of the District Attorney have given them hope -- a hope that they never had before."

    Sounds Familiar (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by JDB on Sat Oct 23, 2010 at 10:59:02 AM EST
    Along those same lines, there is a state judge running for reelection in the county where I work but don't live (so I can't vote there).  In one of her ads she slams her opponent as being "soft on crime" because he "represents criminals who drive drunk."  In another ad, she touts her "conviction rate" as a judge.

    The punchline?  She used to be a public defender.

    Makes my blood boil.

    Nor does he believe in (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Oct 22, 2010 at 11:53:44 PM EST
    spending money on technology to share information with the public. Here's his barren website.

    Who elected this man? (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Sat Oct 23, 2010 at 04:14:28 AM EST
    He shouldn't be the District Attorney.

    On the other hand, if he is indeed the lead prosecutor on the murder case and sign. witnesses live outside the U.S., interviewing them in the presence of investigators would be good lawyering.  

    he was elected during a recall (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Oct 23, 2010 at 11:16:49 AM EST
    of the previous DA. He used to work for the previous DA, quit, organized a recall campaign with himself running to replace her. The recall was overwhelmingly successful and he was in.

    He wasn't the only DA to quit during the recalled DA's tenure, for whatever reason, she was pretty universally disliked by those in her office.

    One of the other DA's who quit back then is now a judge. I guess we should be glad his aspiration is Congress rather than the Bench.


    I guess your Guilty, not presumed Innocent (none / 0) (#6)
    by KLCarten on Sat Oct 23, 2010 at 06:08:27 AM EST
    I always had this quaint idea, that you had to be proven guilty in a court of law.  I guess your guilty until proven innocent.  Cops have the latitude to lie but your guilty if you ask for a lawyer.  Would be nice if D.A's had debates and such so we know what we are getting, just on the fact that if your around trouble could send you to jail is scary.

    He sure has got it twisted... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Sat Oct 23, 2010 at 09:50:54 AM EST
    Maybe prosecutors like Beeson need a reminder that the defendants are part of the public too...they are not aliens from the planet Criminalon, they are our neighbors, who may or may not have done something wrong.  Scary that a DA can be so confused about it...Beeson is a posterboy for continuing education requirements for attorneys...dude needs to go back to school.  

    public defenders had equal budgets.

    They freak out... (none / 0) (#11)
    by rhbrandon on Sat Oct 23, 2010 at 05:42:19 PM EST
    Look at the efforts to relieve caseload in the Missouri public defender system: from the reaction of the prosecutors to any loss of discretion to overburden appointed counsel you'd think they were being raped.

    Liars and Morons (none / 0) (#12)
    by factcheck on Sun Oct 24, 2010 at 09:15:50 PM EST
    Attention Liars and Morons:  His budget from Pitkin County for next year is the $600K they are responsible for.  According to  your math, I guess he had a zero budget from them last year.  Not surprising that liberal liars and idiots don't care to traffic in truth.  He did not ask for a $600K increase, nor did he  respond to any members of the funding agency with the quote about taxpayer funded attorneys for criminals.  Of course, none you care about truth.  No surprise.  Continue to spout off without knowing what you're talking about and lying about any  one who doesn't share your "tolerant" ideology.  That's why your party members are deserting you.  God forbid that you should traffic in truth.

    Sorry, I spoke to the reporter (none / 0) (#13)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Oct 25, 2010 at 05:32:17 AM EST
    who wrote the article, whom I've known a long time, and he told me Beeson did make the quote. You havne't provided any facts to show those statements are false.

    he made the quote to the reporter (none / 0) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Oct 25, 2010 at 05:33:14 AM EST
    That's clearly stated in the article.