For Greer, it’s all about defense

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Greg Greer is all about defense.He defends people accused of crimes who can’t afford attorneys. He has helped coach the defense for Glenwood Springs High School’s football team. He’s leaving the position of chief public defender for the Glenwood Springs region after 20 years in the office, but will still be a defender.”I think in addition to being a good trial lawyer and wonderful friend, he is one of the strongest lawyers our system has ever had,” said Ann Aber, training director for Colorado’s public defenders. She’s known Greer for 17 years.”I really feel like poor people in Colorado are losing one of their most tireless champions,” Aber said.Today was planned to be his last day as public defender. He’s starting a solo private practice, Greer Law Firm PC, in which he’ll continue his 25-year dedication to criminal defense work. Greer said the State Public Defender’s Office is bringing on someone new to replace him but he didn’t want to say too much about it.

Some people say it’s demanding, working in a public defender’s office and handling 80 to 100 open cases at any time. Greer calls it a luxury.”As a public defender, you can dedicate yourself solely to the practice of law,” he said. Public defenders get lots of serious felony trial experience and can focus on developing their criminal defense strategies, he added.”The government is dangerous and someone needs to be that check,” he said. “It’s just exposure to the need to protect people against the extraordinary power of police and prosecution,” he said.But he said he’s eligible for retirement at 50, after 20 years at the Glenwood office, and he wanted a change.”I’m looking forward to giving the kind of detailed attention that private practice will allow,” Greer said.Greer knew he wanted to be a lawyer since undergraduate school. He landed a job as a research assistant for a book, “Crime and Criminology,” by Sue Titus Reid. In the acknowledgments she thanks him for his excellent research and sense of humor. A big part of that job was reading all the crime stories in the New York Times and gathering information about the criminal justice system. He began his undergraduate studies at the University of Tulsa and finished his law degree at the University of Colorado. He interned at the public defender’s office in Fort Collins and worked in Larimer County before coming to Glenwood.

A 2003 Denver Post story mentions a complaint Greer filed that sparked a state investigation into former 9th Judicial District Attorney Mac Myers’ office. It was brought to light that Myers’ office hadn’t revealed information about a Silt Police detective, Michael Williams, to defense attorneys. Williams had been accused of felony tampering with evidence and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of official misconduct prior to getting the Silt job. Defense attorneys went through cases involving Williams and sought for cases to be altered or dropped.”We pursued it,” Greer said. “A number of cases were adjusted or dropped.”He also has traveled to other jurisdictions to handle serious cases and has helped teach “boot camps” for new public defenders and conducted seminars in Texas and Virginia.”Greg has a remarkable ability to check that trial lawyer’s ego at the door and focus on concern of his clients,” Aber said.Greer handled Mike Stagner’s case – one of the more serious or high-profile cases of his career. Stagner walked into a trailer park in Rifle and shot seven people in 2001, killing four. Stagner received not guilty verdicts by reason of insanity.Greer not only proved that Stagner was mentally ill, he persuaded the prosecution not to seek the death penalty and saved his life, Aber said.

“Greg is just a fierce litigator,” Glenwood Springs attorney Jamie Roth said. “He’s very dedicated to his clients.”Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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