Clear Creek defense attorney to challenge top prosecutor
District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, now managing the prosecution of Kobe Bryant, faces a challenge to keep his job from a Clear Creek county criminal attorney.
Bruce Brown, 41, of Greystone, a defense attorney who has a criminal law practice in Lakewood, has entered the race for the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s seat. The district comprises Eagle, Summit, Clear Creek and Lake counties, which has a population of about 82,000 people.
“I feel there is a need for me to run,” said Brown, who has practiced law for 18 years and since 1993 in Colorado. “People who practice regularly in the district have told me they don’t feel that the current administration is serving the needs of the community.”
Hurlbert, 35, a former prosecutor from Breckenridge, became the 5th Judicial District Attorney in December 2002, after Mike Goodbee, the former district attorney, was joined the state Attorney General’s Office.
Hurlbert said he isn’t too concerned with the challenge.
“Having a challenger is part of the democratic process,” Hurlbert said. “My record, however, shows that I have done a good job and that this office is doing very well.”
But Brown said Eagle County in particular has been neglected.
“We’ve got to stop this carrousel of office turnover,” Brown said. “We need a DA who is capable of leading major cases. Every time an attorney goes to court, he encounters a new DA, so the process becomes delayed. There needs to be more prosecutors assigned to the Eagle office. There have also been problems to meet deadlines.
“We need to establish a continuity amongst the deputy district attorneys, which includes training, retaining and recruiting them,” he added.
By the time Hurlbert took office in 2002, several prosecutors had already left the Eagle prosecutor’s office, leaving him with the task of organizing a new team.
“I’ve done a good job under very trying circumstances: a small budget, a huge case load and two major cases,” Hurlbert said.
To Hurlbert, Brown has a misguided view of how the DA’s office runs.
“And that comes from not practicing in this district very much and never prosecuting a case,” Hurlbert said. “This DA’s office deserves the experience of someone like myself who has prosecuted 10 years in this district.”
But to Brown, the fact that he has always been a defense attorney doesn’t mean he’s blind to what the prosecution’s job is.
“In fact, I understand it more thoroughly than most of the prosecutors do,” he said. “I’ve tried dozens of felony cases, including murder cases. My experience range is broad.”
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.
“We also need to improve the communications between critical public safety officers and the DA’s office,” he said. “The DA is the lead public safety officer for the four counties, his role needs to be one of leadership in coordinating the relationship between these offices.
“I’m willing to give up my private practice in order to assure that those basic public safety needs are met within the community,” he added.
Veronica Whitney can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 454, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.