Heidi McCollum sworn in as district attorney
Eagle resident will serve as the 5th Judicial District’s first female DA
EAGLE — Heidi McCollum was sworn into office Tuesday morning in Eagle County Court as the 5th Judicial District’s first female district attorney. The ceremony was conducted virtually via the court’s Webex conferencing software.
The ceremony included all the female judges in the 5th Judicial District, which spans Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake and Summit counties. “I wanted that done for symbolic reasons,” McCollum said in brief remarks at the ceremony. “I thought that was important in this time and in this year to do that.”
The ceremony was held in the courtroom of Judge Rachel Olguin-Fresquez. Joe Kirwan was also sworn in as McCollum’s assistant district attorney, Lisa Hunt as McCollum’s chief deputy district attorney, and a number of deputy district attorneys who will help McCollum prosecute criminal cases in the 5th Judicial District.
Judge Karen A. Romeo introduced McCollum, saying, “She’s the first female DA for the 5th, but more important is what she brings to the job.”
Romeo described McCollum as one of the most prepared attorneys that she has ever worked with and applauded McCollum’s “commitment to our communities, her deep appreciation for trying to do the right thing, her willingness to sit down and listen, and to be prepared for any court hearing or trial.”
McCollum, born and raised in the town of Eagle, was sworn in by Judge Cynthia J. Jones, who attended junior high school and high school with McCollum.
In brief remarks, McCollum thanked members of the law enforcement community for what they do day in and day out, the attorneys who work in the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, and her family for its support.
Speaking to the attorneys who work in the district attorney’s office, McCollum said their jobs are as important as ever.
“Your jobs are to hold the line. To hold the line and make sure that the rights of defendants are upheld and not violated. To hold the line and ensure the rights of victims are being given their voice. To hold the line in doing justice both in and out of the courtroom, and to adhere to the rules of law in this state. To have compassion for those in the criminal court system, whether they are on the defense side or whether they are on the prosecution side. To do all these things with dignity, propriety, and by following the rules of law that are set up to be fair for everyone. These are the lines that we all need to hold,” McCollum said.
McCollum has worked as assistant district attorney in the 5th Judicial District since 2013, working under former District Attorney Bruce Brown, who could not run again because of term limits.
“I will work very hard to ensure the public is protected, that victims’ rights are protected, and that everyone accused of a crime has a fair opportunity and their day in court,” McCollum said in a news release.
McCollum takes office at a challenging time for 5th Judicial District courts that are continuing to operate through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Most dockets are being handled virtually through the court’s Webex conferencing software and a moratorium on new jury trials was imposed in mid-November and remains in effect. Local jail capacity has been reduced and work-release programs for inmates are on hold to help prevent the spread of the virus. About 130 jury trials are scheduled for the district from March to June, with jury trials presently scheduled to resume in March.
Brown said McCollum has proven herself to be a leader with excellent technical skills in the courtroom, and someone who has “all the tools in the bag” and a lot of community support to get the job done.
“Obviously, you can’t avoid the fact of her gender, which is wonderful,” Brown said. “For the first time ever we’ll have a woman leading the DA’s office. There are not many women who are elected DA in the state of Colorado. And diversity is so important to our community. It’s nice that an important part of the judicial system will be reflective of the community.”
Brown noted that McCollum has taken on some of the most challenging criminal cases the district attorney’s office has faced over the last eight years.
“She knows the community well and has a lot of confidence from the community. I think she is going to flourish,” Brown said of McCollum and her team. “All the attorneys sworn in today, they have all been there the past several years, so the continuity this brings will pay dividends. There won’t be any gaps in service.”
Tom Lotshaw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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