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Vail Daily editorial: The judge who said that’s not his job

Vail Daily Editorial
editor@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado

Marty Erzinger is a pretty fortunate guy, all things considered.

Thanks to Eagle County’s woozy concept of justice, the price for running over a cyclist last summer and driving away is a misdemeanor and maybe a little time in jail. Maybe.

This is the “left me for dead” case in which the sudden onset of sleep apnea apparently struck at just the wrong time, perhaps caused by new car smell, and so Erzinger had no idea he’d run over the cyclist and drove three more miles before wondering what was wrong with his bumper.



Hey, the District Attorney’s Office bought the story.

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert explained that he was very concerned about poor Erzinger’s job as a money manager, so he submitted a plea bargain similar to what he gave two ladies a year ago for switching bibs at a bike race.



The guy at the wrong end of the sleepy driver protested that maybe a misdemeanor charge came a tad short of justice for nearly killing him.

So he raised a ruckus through his attorney, an old foe of Hurlbert from the even more wacky Kobe Bryant rape case, Hal Haddon.

Thought a judge might apply some perspective? Think again.



Thursday, District Judge Fred Gannett came up with an entirely new way to look at the separation among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.

His role is not part of the checks and balances between branches, he explained, but instead to go along with the “executive” branch represented by the district attorney so as to not rock the boat.

And so this little case got a little stranger.

The judge believes his job is not to judge. All righty then. Why did they bother having a hearing?

Are these guys all driving new cars now?

Eagle County has a district attorney more concerned about the defendant’s job prospects than approprate prosecution, and a judge who believes the district attorney should do his job for him. Is there anotherway to understand this?

Checks and balances really mean rubber stamps, victims have no place at the table with law enforcement, and apparent “that’s the ticket, yeah” explanations from defendants are accepted as gospel.

Welcome to Eagle County.

This one cries out for a trial. Maybe a jury would bring a measure of rationality to a case marred by some deeply muddled thinking. Seems more people than Erzinger fell asleep at the wheel.

We have no comment on Erzinger’s guilt or innocence, which while he apologized in court for his actions was pretty much overlooked in all the legal wrangling.

But this is an indictment of our justice system, a real wake-up call.


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