Beeson takes oath, announces staff |

Beeson takes oath, announces staff

Post Independent/Kara K. PearsonMartin Beeson jokes with the crowd after being sworn in by Judge T. Peter Craven as the new 9th Judicial District Attorney Friday morning at the Garfield County Courthouse.

Martin Beeson officially replaced recalled 9th Judicial District Attorney Colleen Truden when he was sworn in Friday morning. A roomful of supporters gave him a hardy cheer after Chief District Court Judge Peter Craven administered the oath of office.Beeson defeated Truden in a recall election Dec. 13. Beeson won the election over local attorney Chip McCrory, who ran as a write-in candidate. Truden is the only DA recalled from office in Colorado history.Also sworn in were Beeson’s new deputy district attorneys, including new Assistant DA Jeff Cheney. He replaces Vince Felletter who held the post in the Truden administration.Cheney and Beeson worked together as deputy DAs under Mac Myers who preceded Truden. They both left Truden’s employ in April, which triggered a handful of resignations in her office that in part led to the recall campaign.Five attorneys left the office last spring, as well as a number of support staff. Beeson said he told six attorneys he would not retain them in his office. He kept on most of Truden’s office staff.

Deputy DA Scott Turner, who prosecuted felony cases in Glenwood Springs court, was retained by Beeson.Also returning is Gail Nichols as chief DA in Aspen; Jim Leuthauser; Tony Hershey, who will cover juvenile court, and Katherine Steers. Steers brought an ethics complaint against Truden and her office that is under investigation by the state Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel.Steers will prosecute cases in Aspen county court.Beeson said Brain Rossiter and Joshua Ritter have agreed to stay on as deputies, at least temporarily.Russ Wessley remains as deputy DA in Meeker.Ed Piccolo will stay on as investigator and Beth Bascom returns as chief investigator. Bascom was an investigator under Myers.Beeson met with Truden Thursday evening in her office as a preliminary to the hand-over Friday. “I would like to thank Colleen Truden for her efforts in this transition,” Beeson said. “She went out of her way to be gracious and kind.”He said his first order of business will be to go through all the active case files to determine if appropriate charges and plea bargains were filed.He accused Truden of routinely overcharging criminal offenses.”We know the dockets (court appearances) are seriously backlogged and that has to change,” Beeson said. “We are going to check the charges and if we feel they are not appropriate or excessive we will promptly move to dismiss them (and refile).” As to plea bargain offers now on the table, Beeson said, “If they are appropriate we will keep them and if not (we’ll) change them.”The mission of his office, he said, is not to put a priority on a high-conviction rate. “We are not in this to get convictions. We are in this to pursue justice. It’s a different obligation than a defense attorney.”Beeson admitted he was nervous about taking on the job but confident that with the right people in place he was up to the task.”What an awesome responsibility. I’m very humbled with the trust and confidence the people of this district placed in me,” he said. “I’m greatly honored.”

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