This time, the world is watching |

This time, the world is watching

Don Rogers

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert has done well to take his time weighing the sexual assault case against Kobe Bryant.

Maybe this is even a harbinger of a new era in which cases that can ruin reputations of locally well-known people are thought through before charges are filed, only to fall apart some excruciating time later, damaging lives instead of exacting justice.

For Avon Town Councilman Peter Buckley, that meant filing and ultimately dropping the charges against him not once, but twice. Buckley was accused in October 2001 of spamming a rival computer company. It took until Wednesday, July 16, 2003, for the prosecutors to figure out they didn’t have a case. Where’s the justice in that?

Vail’s Bruce Gillie, another well-known local, dangled on computer porn charges for about a year and a half before his case fell apart. Before that it was auto shop owner Louis Medeiros living for four months with stolen auto charges before those were dismissed in a wacky case that saw a deputy DA insisting on the immediate forcible recovery of a resold van just before a Vail town councilman’s brothers’ family planned to drive it to Denver to catch a plane to their father’s funeral.

The DA’s office has had some big wins, too, and congratulations on getting those plea agreements in several largish embezzlement cases of late.

There are positive signs that the office is regrouping from a tide of prosecutors leaving over the past year, including former DA Mike Goodbee, for better jobs.

No question, it’s tough running a prosecutors’ shop in rural America, even in paradise. The pay is low, the pile of work high, and the experience level of the local prosecutors tends to be thin.

But the report on Hurlbert picking up this particular Humpty Dumpty is optimistic. Attorneys seem to feel he’s made some good hires and the office is beginning to get some traction.

That’s all good, notwithstanding that missed deadline in another locally high-profile case, the murder charges against Kathy Densen, which will prevent the prosecutors from using certain evidence at the trial because they missed a filing deadline. There’s still a hill to climb.

In the case of Kobe Bryant, the DA and his office are at a cross roads. Their direction from here will be announced at 3 p.m. today. If the case is weak, best figure that out now and take the heat. That’s better than damaging lives for a prolonged period and then dropping the ball. If the case is strong, get on with it in confidence that the ordeal is worth it, and something approaching justice will be served.

Now the world is watching. Take your time.


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