RBC I I’m Chip McCrory, the independent candidate for 9th Judicial District Attorney for Rio Blanco, Garfield and Pitkin Counties. As an independent, I am not the choice of political insiders. All voters in the District, regardless of party, signed petitions to place me on the ballot. As an independent, I am free to do what is right, not what is the popular position of the moment. I hope that voters of both parties will consider me for the job.
Why am I running? For 35 years, I have worked in the court system and I understand how it should run. The criminal system is not working in the 9th, and has not for years. Someone challenged me, “If you don’t like it, change it.” I have accepted that challenge.
I began my practice with the First Judicial District Attorney’s office handling cases in the metropolitan Denver area for four years. I moved here in 1985 to work under 9th District Attorney Milt Blakey. I worked my way up from deputy district attorney to assistant district attorney, second-in-command. I tried cases, ran the Grand Jury, wrote appeals, worked with the police in all three counties, and ran the Aspen office of the D.A. I have tried and investigated numerous homicides, and other major crimes. After twelve years there, I went into private practice doing criminal defense.
Our judicial district is predominantly rural. In an average year a few big cases occur—murder, kidnapping, armed robbery. The remaining bulk of criminal cases must be handled effectively, but efficiently. The last three district attorneys have not managed those cases in a way that serves our citizens. I am running to re-establish a DA’s office that is efficient and professional.
The court system is clogged by criminal cases. Civil cases are pre-empted and rescheduled, sometimes years later. Several trials are set on the same day, yet only a handful of trials are actually held. Cases resolve just days ahead of the trial dates. Jurors are called to do their civic duty, only to learn that the case was already settled when they appeared. Repeat court appearances by defendants and victims continually occur with no progress made to resolve the cases.
This adversely affects the entire court system, and the taxpayer as well.
The current district attorney’s office is neither open nor accountable. The Rifle county judge recently criticized why the district attorney gave diversion to some defendants, and forced others, facing the same charges, to plead guilty. (Glenwood Post Independent, 6/16/16). Aspen residents still are puzzled about the resolution of the Nancy Pfister homicide. The DA charged three people with first degree murder, all were held without bond for three months; two suddenly had their cases dismissed when the third claimed the others were innocent.
The current district attorney, Sherry Caloia, has been accused of not conferring with the police. She told the Aspen Daily News:
“I don’t want to be a part of their club,” Caloia said. “I’ve been kicked out of the club. I’ve never been invited to [police] chiefs’ meetings, except for one.” That meeting, too, was shortly after she was elected. The chiefs “carefully went around the room and screamed at me, and I mean screamed at me, telling me what they believed I should do.”(Aspen Daily News, 9/16/16).
The district attorney must be able to work with the police. The DA is the lawyer for the People of the State of Colorado, and is answerable to the citizens for these decisions.
My DA’s office will treat everyone with courtesy, and be open and accountable. That means returning phone calls, taking responsibility to run the system right, and explaining our decisions plainly and openly.
The bad guys will go to jail. However, a “lock ‘em all up” policy is stupid and expensive. It costs Colorado $37,000 to keep someone in prison for a year, while supervised probation costs $1700. The programs in the prisons are limited and have long waiting lists. Many offenders serve their time before they can actually take the classes that they need.
Most defendants remain in our community. The goal in most cases should be to keep a defendant from returning to the criminal courts. Colorado laws provide for sentencing and charging alternatives, many discretionary by the DA, which are too little offered in current prosecutions.
Rio Blanco County has been mostly ignored by the current DA, Sherry Caloia, who won’t support having a full-time deputy district attorney serving Rio Blanco County.
“I’m already punishing someone to go up there four days a week. I can’t get anyone to live up there.” (Aspen Times 11/18/15)
I will work to find a DA who will live in the county to have a better feel for these communities, and better rapport with the police.
The district attorney is the chief law enforcement officer of Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties. It requires the courage to act and the wisdom to know when not to act. It is my firm belief this is currently lacking and why I am running for district attorney.
Why should you care? Everybody comes to court sooner or later. When you do, whether as a crime victim, witness, juror or defendant, you want to be treated fairly, courteously and competently.
Please, cast your vote for experience and independence—vote Chip McCrory for district attorney in the Ninth.
Chip McCrory is a Colorado native who graduated from Colorado College in 1976, and from the University of Colorado School of Law in 1980. He served four years as a deputy district attorney in the Jefferson County district attorney’s office before accepting a job here with the 9th Judicial District Attorney. He worked in the 9th District from 1985 through 1997 as chief deputy DA, then assistant district attorney. He has been in private practice, focusing on criminal defense in the district, since 1997. Learn more at www.chip4da.com.