Bruce Brown – candidate for Fifth Judicial District Attorney |

Bruce Brown – candidate for Fifth Judicial District Attorney

Daily Staff Report
Special to the Daily Bruce Brown

Brown, 41, is a Democrat who has been a defense attorney for 18 years and has a practice in Lakewood.

Q: Violent crimes are in the rise in the district, what would you do to curb this problem?Brown: To prevent violent crime, offenders must be held accountable and punished severely. Teamwork among local law enforcement and the community is key. Prosecutors don’t work in isolation, but become a critical link to complete the “circle of public safety.”Q: What were the positives and negatives of the Kobe Bryant case?Brown: The Kobe Bryant case was a total disaster for the integrity of our prosecutor’s office. As a consequence, true victims of crime are now more reluctant than ever to report offenses because they don’t feel well protected by the prosecutor’s office. Limited prosecution funds were poured down the drain, there being no public safety benefit from the nearly $500,000 added costs, wasted on a case that never went to trial. The only way to reap any benefit from this fiasco is to coordinate existing community-based resources to reach out to victims and let them know that if they have been the victim of a a criminal act they will be safe and protected in court by a capable prosecutor.We, as a judicial community, have a duty to spearhead those efforts to restore a now tarnished reputation.Q: What cases would you give priority to?Bruce Brown: The most important cases to prosecute are crimes of violence — murder, sexual assault, using weapons during an offense, and robbery. Among misdemeanors, our priority must be domestic violence and driving under the influence.Q: What crimes would you give a lower priority?Brown: “Nuisance” offenses that make our communities unpleasant should be informally handled if the offenders are amenable to change their behaviors. For example, neighbors who have disputes over barking dogs or pets off leash should be directed initially to an informal arbitration in hopes of devising a plan for compliance with laws as a constructive alternative to a Judge’s order. If no cooperation or compliance occurs,professional prosecutors should utilize formal courtroom processes. Juvenile offenders with proper parental support, such as “first-timers” who may have stolen a candy bar, should be diverted into community service or appropriate counseling before punitive sanctions are imposed.Q: How do you plan to prioritize the budget?Brown: The budgetary priority must be on paying staff attorneys and support staff competitive salaries to secure that the investment made in training young attorneys becomes returned through a long lasting commitment to the office. Cutting-edge trial performance and presentation is the next highest budget priority.Q: In the past years there has been a high turnover of prosecutors in the district. What would you do to keep good prosecutors?Brown: Turnover should be addressed in the following fashion: The election of a district attorney who, through the leadership of his example, will be a model for young prosecutors learning how to try a criminal case and create an atmosphere of camaraderie that cannot be beat.Prosecutors are naturally attracted to doing their job as a public service without exclusively focusing on salary. Additionally, an in-district training program should be instituted, and tangible benefits in the form of increased salaries or a flexible work schedule would have immediate, positive affects.Staff Writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 454 or Vail, Colorado

by Veronica WhitneyDaily Staff WriterEAGLE COUNTY – Clear Creek defense attorney Bruce Brown is ready to change sides in the courtroom.After working for 18 years as a criminal defense attorney, Brown is now seeking to be the new district attorney for the 5th Judicial District, which includes Eagle County.”I live in a community where I feel we aren’t well represented by a prosecutor,” said Brown, 41, of Greystone, which is west of Evergreen. “I have experience and the capability of making a positive change. I felt it was my civic responsibility to step forward and accept that challenge so that we’ll be all safer.”Brown is challenging District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, who took over the office in December 2002 after former District Attorney Mike Goodbee left to work for the state attorney general. The district comprises Eagle, Summit, Clear Creek and Lake counties, and has a population of about 82,000 people.”I’ve been arguing in criminal court and working with justices for the past 18 years, so it really is more continuity than change for me,” Brown said. “It’s not a large transition, you move basically from one side of the courtroom to the other.”Brown, who owns a criminal law practice in Lakewood, said he’s also ready to trade what he earns there for a public-sector salary.”I’ve done public service before and I understand that it comes with a diminished salary,” said Brown, who will close his practice if he wins the election on Nov. 2. “But that isn’t the only concern for me in my life.”‘Office in disarray’Although becoming a prosecutor would be a challenge, Brown said he isn’t too concerned. “This is a situation where there is a tremendous need for a leader in an office in disarray,” he said. “There will be things I’ll be confronted with for the first time. All I can do in that situation is the same thing I’ve been doing for my entire practice, and that is to consult with people who have gone the route before.”Even though felonies will always be the most serious crimes, Brown said misdemeanors have to be seriously prosecuted as well.”In terms of misdemeanor cases, the most important to prosecute are DUIs and domestic violence cases,” he said. “Those are often the type of crimes that lead to much more serious criminal activity.”One of the things Brown wants to change is what he calls a “very high” turnover in the District Attorney’s Office. High cost of living and lower salaries than in bigger cities are some of the reasons – prosecutor’s salaries range from $40,000 to $80,000 in the 5th Judicial District compared to $48,000 to $140,000 in Denver.Brown said turnover can be stabilized.”Turnover is a constant, but we shouldn’t accept it,” he said. “While we might accept turnover from younger staff members, we shouldn’t be willing to lightly accept it from the assistant district attorney.” Phil Smith, the former assistant district attorney, left the district earlier this year.”We will have a staff that is committed to working in the district,” he added. “I will insist that each D.A. lives in the county they work in. We’re going to create an atmosphere within the office that is going to encourage people to stay by giving them benefits, training programs and leadership.”Victims outreachUnless you have a strong prosecutor, people will push the boundaries of the law and take advantage of others, Brown said.”The law is to create a stability within our communities so people don’t feel they can take advantage of others,” he said. “It’s critical that people trust their prosecutors. If people don’t feel they are going to be held accountable for their actions they are going to act without regards to their neighbors.”I understand the role of a person in the courtroom,” he added. “I’ve worked with hundreds of prosecutors and that gives me a tremendous advantage to represent a case in court.”To Brown, the key to a successful district attorney’s office is to have a good relationship with all local law enforcement agencies. He also said dropping charges in the Kobe Bryant rape case may cause some victims not to go to the police.”We need to do much better outreach to victim’s in the shadow of the Kobe Bryant case,” he said. “True victims of crimes aren’t going to be willing to come forward. Victims are reluctant to report true crimes because they feel they won’t be well protected by the prosecutors. “Though he’s never been employed as a prosecutor, Brown said he has volunteered in the past in the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office. He also has served as a probation monitor, supervising lawyers who have been disciplined, he said.”I’m capable of making good decisions,” he said. “When you go to court as a defense attorney you have obligations to represent your client but you also have obligations as an officer of the court to so do with integrity and strong devotion to the U.S. Constitution.”Maureen O’Brien, a criminal defense attorney from Lakewood, said Brown can bring a wealth of knowledge about the criminal justice system.”He seems to really care about people and he wants to make the system work well. One of his concerns is that white collar crime gets prosecuted to its fullest extent,” O’Brien said. “I believe he would be a tough prosecutor. He would put people’s feet to the fire to prove his and their case.”Staff writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 454 or Vail Colorado

Bruce BrownAge: 41Family: Wife, Patricia; two children.Hobbies: Skiing, biking and cooking.Education: Law degree from Whittier College; B.A. from University of Colorado at Boulder. Experience: Has practiced criminal law for 18 years, since 1993 in Colorado.What are the worst criminal cases: Murder of a child and torture.Which is the crime that causes the least damage for society: Jaywalking.Vail Colorado

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