Vail Daily editorial: Carey for district attorney | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily editorial: Carey for district attorney

the Vail Daily Editorial Board

The 5th Judicial District is a big place, encompassing Lake, Summit, Clear Creek and Eagle counties. Running the District Attorney's Office is a big, complex job, one that needs stability. But a challenger seems the right choice to run that large operation.

Incumbent District Attorney Bruce Brown, a Democrat from Clear Creek County, is finishing his first term in office. He's drawn two challengers this year: Bruce Carey, a Republican from Eagle; and Sanam Mehrnia, an independent candidate from Summit County. Both are defense attorneys.

Brown is running on his record, as most incumbents do, pointing to his management of the district's multiple offices and the success he and his staff have had in prosecuting cases.

Brown hasn't made any major gaffes, with the possible exception of a remark he made to a Denver Post reporter about the time off he's taken as district attorney.

As often as tried to explain the remark — and he has, with some success — "I'm a public servant, not a public slave" will never sound right.

Brown's two challengers are also running on the incumbent's record. Both Mehrnia and Carey voice the same complaints about district prosecutors. Both have spoken at length about what they see as a trend toward bringing too many charges — often felony counts — against suspects who in many cases have made regrettable errors, not heinous acts.

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Both challengers have also spoken at length about turnover in the district's offices, and both question the need for a permanently-empaneled grand jury based out of Summit County.

Candidates challenging incumbents need to point out flaws in the status quo. But the consistency in the complaints raised by Brown's challengers raise questions about how much fire there is behind the campaign-year smoke.

Both challengers also cite a need for a more collegial relationship between prosecutors, cops, judges and defense attorneys. Carey has even pledged to hold open houses in each district office every month, rotating between the four district offices. That equates to three events per office per year.

Then — and this doesn't matter as much as it once did — the fact remains that Brown lives on the fringe of the district's boundary. He's become familiar with the district in the past four years, of course, but there is a distance between the district attorney and the residents he serves.

With all that in mind, it seems time to make a change, and Carey is the best person to lead that change.

Mehrnia is likable, sincere and would no doubt throw all her energies into the job. But she has very little experience compared to the other candidates. That's essential when dealing with the futures of both suspects and victims.

Carey has served as both a prosecutor and defense attorney. He knows the district intimately.

With all that in mind, we believe Carey would have a lot to learn as the 5th Judicial District's lead prosecutor, but would learn quickly, and will ably lead the office the next four years.