Rival takes on DA | VailDaily.com

Rival takes on DA

Bruce Brown

By initiation and then disassociation from a prosecution he initiated, Mr. Hurlbert has demonstrated a total disregard for his client, we the people of the state of Colorado. This abandonment is as if the ship’s captain, having commenced a voyage with a reluctant crew, disembarked at the nearest port to avoid a coming storm. Unimaginable and unprecedented is how to view the act of a professional prosecutor quitting on his case just as a much delayed trial date is finally nearing. Should Mr. Hurlbert’s actions put into jeopardy the upcoming trial date, extreme hardship upon a victim and public, both wanting to see the case move toward a conclusion, would undoubtedly occur. This single act demonstrates that Mr. Hurlbert is completely unsuited to lead the District Attorney’s Office, where turmoil and turnover continue to flow unabated. Because of Mr. Hurlbert’s plan to rely in this case almost entirely upon attorneys supplied from Front Range offices who lack connection to the district in which the Bryant case is pending, there is now an almost total lack public accountability between the prosecution team and the local area in the most widely watched criminal trial in Colorado’s history. When appointed one-year ago, it might have been reasonable to assume that the public investment in Mr. Hurlbert’s previous experience as a deputy district attorney would pay off. It hasn’t. Instead, we now can see plainly that any past investment in Hurlbert’s capability as a prosecutor was misplaced. By his seeking an elected term as the lead prosecutor for Eagle, Summit, Clear Creek and Lake Counties, voters in November will be asked to pour additional public capital, not just money but trust that a district attorney will effectively lead criminal prosecutions to a successful conclusion, into Mr. Hurlbert. This would be as if Kenneth Lay came to your door today and asked you to buy shares in Enron. Voters will to continue to ask the same questions as people all over the nation, expressing doubts about the capability of the District Attorney’s Office. Of course, this action is not the first self-inflicted injury to the prosecution. First was a tug of war between the district attorney and the sheriff in having Mr. Bryant arrested. Then, the mercenary hiring of prosecutors from outside the district, followed by missed filing deadlines, on again off again re-testing of DNA evidence, and finally this early, and largely unexplained exit by Hurlbert. Every procedural misstep has the potential to obscure the ultimate issues in a case – whether or not a crime occurred. We can only hope that this roller coaster case will not cause jurors to believe that they are being taken for a ride.

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