DA narrows list to 190 Silt cases | PostIndependent.com

DA narrows list to 190 Silt cases

Greg Masse
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Ninth District Attorney Mac Myers confirmed Monday that some court cases could be dismissed because of irregularities in informing attorneys about former Silt police officer Michael Williams’ past.

Myers said his office has narrowed the number of court cases possibly affected by Williams from 253 to 190.

In all, Myers said 190 defendants were found guilty in cases “even remotely” involving Williams – who resigned from the Silt Police Department on May 2.

Of those 190 cases, three defendants were found guilty after a trial and the remaining 187 pleaded guilty after accepting plea deals from the DA’s office.

Myers’ office pored over more than 500 cases before narrowing the list to 190.

“A lot of those cases have been dismissed and were never prosecuted,” he said.

Williams’ resignation came less than a month after Myers sent a letter to area defense attorneys informing them that Williams has a criminal past, and that court procedures might not have consistently been followed in dealing with that.

Williams told the Rifle Citizen Telegram his resignation was for personal reasons and had nothing to do with past legal troubles.

Myers said he doesn’t know why Williams resigned.

“I think there were a number of things that were kind of coming to a head,” he said.

Myers’ April 10 letter explained that when Williams was a police officer at the Frisco Police Department, he was arrested on charges of attempting to influence a public servant and tampering with physical evidence, both felonies.

He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of first-degree official misconduct and was forced to resign from the Frisco Police Department in 1997.

When Williams was hired as a full-time Silt officer in 1999, Myers’ office began a policy of informing all defense attorneys whose clients were arrested by Williams that Williams had a conviction in Summit County.

That information – called a notice of potential impeachment information – was supposed to be given to defense attorneys as they prepared for trials or advised their clients of what to do with a case. It could have allowed attorneys to raise questions about Williams’ credibility as a witness in those cases.

In Myers’ letter, he admitted the potential impeachment notice might not have been consistently distributed.

“We sent a letter to about 31 or 32 attorneys who regularly practice in Garfield County,” Myers said, adding that his office also sent letters straight to defendants who didn’t hire attorneys.

“We erred on the side of being conservative and filed one on every case,” Myers said.

The letters also will serve as documentation for court and district attorney office files that the notifications were sent out.

Myers said the situation with Williams is “unfortunate,” but insists that it shouldn’t shake people’s faith in the judicial system.

“I think what we have is a very isolated type of incident. I think the vast majority of police officers that I’ve had contact with over the years are people with impeccable integrity. I certainly don’t feel it’s a tarnishing of the system,” he said.

He said his office is using an “overabundance of caution” in dealing with the Williams situation by sending notifications out to any attorneys and defendants who might have been affected by Williams, even for old, long-closed cases.

“What makes this unusual is that Williams had a history, he was convicted of official misconduct,” he said.

Myers said he doesn’t know how many cases might be dismissed, if any.

“I would say it’s possible, but I couldn’t tell you how many because they’re going to need to examine it on a case-by-case basis,” he said.

“It depends on the circumstances. Every (case) is going to be a little bit unique. But I would say that most any case where Mike Williams was the only potential witness – you know, your typical traffic stops and things like that – there’s a good chance those will be dropped,” Myers said.

But in the types of cases where Williams was less involved and was “more of a conduit for the information as opposed to providing the information itself,” Myers said he doubts that the case outcome would be seriously affected.

While looking into all of Williams’ cases since he became a full-time Silt police officer in 1999, the DA’s office also had to examine some New Castle police cases because the Silt Police Department sometimes helps back up that department. Myers said he doesn’t expect any of those cases to be affected by the Williams situation.

Myers also said he’s not sure if the DA’s office, the Silt Police Department or Williams could be sued by people who were wrongly convicted, but said he doubts it.

“Just because there’s a conviction that involved allegations of dishonesty, certainly that questions his credibility, but there are only three cases that actually went to trial,” he said. “I think you have to look at the nature of the cases. I really don’t know.”

He said it’s “difficult to imagine scenarios where people may have been unjustly affected.”

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511


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