Changes loom over the Pitkin County DA’s office
Their jobs aren’t finished just yet.
On Monday, Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin still will be prosecuting alleged criminals in Pitkin County. He will have filed at least nine new felony cases by then. The next day, Deputy District Attorney Richard Nedlin will handle a court docket of misdemeanor and traffic transgressions, at least until the clock strikes 11:30 a.m.
That’s when Sherry Caloia will be sworn in as the new district attorney for the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, which comprises Pitkin, Garfield and Rio Blanco counties. Caloia is not retaining Mordkin or Nedlin.
In November, Caloia, 57, of Glenwood Springs, unseated incumbent District Attorney Martin Beeson with 17,633 votes, or 50.27 percent, in the three-county district. Beeson collected 17,441 votes, or 49.73 percent.
Caloia, a Democrat, has lined up Andrea Bryan, already a prosecutor for the 9th Judicial District, to handle felony cases in Pitkin County. While Bryan will replace Mordkin, Caloia said Wednesday that she is still mulling her options on how to replace Nedlin, whose caseload has mainly consisted of misdemeanor and traffic offenses.
One of Caloia’s considerations is to have a prosecutor work two or three days a week in Pitkin County’s Aspen office to handle the misdemeanor caseload. The same person would work in Garfield County the rest of the workweek, she said. The replacement could come from within the District Attorney’s Office, or be hired from the outside.
Until then, Nedlin and Mordkin said they plan to handle cases like they always do from their ground-level offices in the Pitkin County Courthouse. But come Jan. 9, they’ll be on the other side of the aisle.
Both Mordkin and Nedlin said Wednesday they will hang up their own shingles as criminal-defense lawyers.
Mordkin will operate his practice out of Snowmass Village; it will be called Snowmass Law, with the subheading, A Law Firm.
“For those of us who have done both sides,” Mordkin said, “we realize our system of justice requires people have an adequate and proper representation. That’s the way the system works.”
Nedlin will run his firm, The Law Offices of Richard P. Nedlin, out of the Aspen Airport Business Center.
“I feel I have a good reputation with the defense bar and others in this town,” he said. “Word gets around quickly, and I’m hoping my reputation as a fair prosecutor carries over.”
Mordkin said he made efforts, after Caloia won, to contact her about retaining his job. However, she had spoken publicly during her campaign that she would keep neither Mordkin nor Nedlin aboard if she was elected. Mordkin, after sending Caloia multiple emails about his job status, said he learned from her on Dec. 13 that his job was finished.
“I made it clear from the get-go that would be the case [that Nedlin and Mordkin would not be retained],” Caloia said. “Frankly, I am not an overly wordy person and I didn’t see the need to go through that. The decision was made, it was clear, and it was not up for debate.”
Mordkin said he has made peace with his fate and is ready to move on.
“I enjoyed what I was doing before I began to work here,” said the former Snowmass Village town councilman, who had practiced criminal-defense law in Pitkin County since 1996, until he was hired as a prosecutor in November 2008. “And I enjoyed what I was doing while I was a district attorney.”
For Nedlin, who has been a prosecutor in Pitkin County since March 2008, his practice will have an emphasis in criminal defense, but he said he also plans to take on family-law matters as well.
Unlike Mordkin, Nedlin said he had no desire to work for Caloia.
“I didn’t try [to contact Caloia about keeping the job],” he said. “I did not want to keep my job. I have never met her, I’ve never spoke with her on the phone. I would not have stayed.”
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