EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - Bruce Brown has spent two and a half decades as a trial lawyer and that, he says, is the exactly the experience he needs to be the next district attorney.
Brown is a Democrat running against Republican Scott Turner for district attorney in Colorado's four-county 5th Judicial District.
"I've identified during the last several years the extreme need for increased professionalism in the DA's office," Brown said. "With my 26 years of criminal trial experience I can correct the wrongs that will undoubtedly occur if there isn't change."
Brown, 50, is a single father to three kids, 21, 15 and 7.
"It keeps me busy. I'm hopping day and night," he said. "My main focuses of my life are my family and my career. I work hard and I work hard in all areas of my life."
It's good practice for a life in law.
"To be a good trial attorney you have to outwork your opponent 2-1," he said.
For now, he juggles his thriving legal practice with single parenthood and the campaign.
"That's the way I've led my life, by taking on much more than anyone can possibly complete. Somehow I manage to get it done," he said.
He said this and hopefully one more will be his last campaigns.
"You get the most out of your district attorney if they serve two terms," he said.
You may remember him from his 2004 run against outgoing District Attorney Mark Hurlbert. He narrowly lost.
He has learned how to campaign, he said, and was the Clear Creek County chairman for Gov. John Hickenlooper's campaign.
"I've grown so much since then. I didn't have the knowledge about what it takes to run an effective campaign. I'm running a much more robust campaign this time around," Brown said.
He says he was what's now called a "spirited" youth. When he was a kid he spent some of his summers in Gypsum, he said, so he sort of grew up around here.
He struck out on his own at 16, and a few years later graduated the University of Colorado Boulder. He swung lift chairs in Vail for a winter, then graduated law school at Whittier College near Los Angeles at 23.
He interviewed with both the Los Angeles County's Public Defenders office and District Attorney's Office. The public defender offered him a job first, and his career path was set.
He tried his first murder case when he was 24. He doesn't remember much about that case, except it was part of a massive caseload.
"In the L.A. County Public Defenders office it's not uncommon to represent 30 people a day, around 700 to 800 a year - literally trial by fire," Brown said. "That's the sort of caseload it takes to train young lawyers."
"If you don't try cases, and you don't have experience in the courtroom, the defense attorneys will run circles around you," Brown said.
'Relaxed and approachable'
He worked in the U.S. Congress as a staff assistant. The suit and tie chafed a bit and sometimes still does.
"I'm always relaxed and approachable, but if the judge would let me wear a Hawaiian shirt, I'd do it," Brown said.
He's quick to point to the Martin Erzinger case, and how he says Hurlbert mishandled it, pleading a felony hit and run down to a misdemeanor.
Turner counters that he disagreed with Hurlbert's decision, but that Hurlbert ran the office and it was his call.
Brown said the DA's office received 6,000 emails opposing Hurlbert's decision.
"That told us the DA was completely tone deaf to public opinion," Brown said. "That's their MO. They never admit they're wrong. Everything is always someone else's fault."
A crime victim in Georgetown had a firearm pointed at him, the suspect's third time pulling that. The DA's office plea bargained it down to a misdemeanor.
Brown represented a suspect in a sex assault case who was acquitted.
Brown said that over a five-year period, 60 percent of sex assaults in this judicial district that go to trial end up with acquittal. If prosecutors cannot make their case, they shouldn't bring it, Brown said.
"Most communities seem to have an inclination to side with the prosecution. They've lost a huge advantage," Brown said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.