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Friend or foe?

Despite the recall of District Attorney Colleen Truden, a special prosecutor still may be needed in a dog shooting case. But now the problem is that the defense attorney is the incoming DA’s friend rather than the outgoing DA’s enemy.Ken Newton, of New Castle, is accused of a misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals, and felony charges of tampering with physical evidence and criminal mischief. Authorities say Newton shot a neighbor’s dog and then buried it in a makeshift grave without telling the neighbor.Jeff Cheney, who represents Newton, had originally requested a special prosecutor because of allegations that Truden had kept an enemies list and made decisions on cases based on whether the defense attorneys were on a supposed enemies list. Cheney, a former deputy DA for Truden, was said to be on that list.Voters recalled Truden Tuesday and elected Martin Beeson to be her successor.Cheney was Beeson’s campaign manager. Cheney said it’s possible Beeson might ask for a special prosecutor in the dog shooting case to avoid any appearance of impropriety, because of the close relationship between him and Beeson.Meanwhile, Cheney said his own request for a special prosecutor isn’t a moot point until Truden leaves office. That is expected to occur sometime between Christmas and Jan. 6, depending on when county clerks are able to certify election results.Judge Daniel Petre is scheduled to rule on Cheney’s request by next Thursday. He heard arguments about it Nov. 14, in a hearing with political overtones because ethics were an issue in the recall campaign.Cheney said it might make sense to postpone action in the case until after Beeson takes office.”I haven’t had time to really factor in the recall in what’s going to happen in that case,” Cheney said. “That’s a great question, and I’m not sure I can answer it at this point.””I would think right now, theoretically we’re still in similar circumstances, albeit on the horizon we know that there is going to be a change of command, a change of leadership.”At last month’s hearing, Petre said the contention that other attorneys on an alleged DA enemies list could be in situations similar to Cheney’s “does raise the stakes,” opening the door to other requests for special prosecutors. But now, if Petre agrees to Cheney’s special prosecutor request, the ramifications will be far more limited because Truden is due to leave office so soon.Truden’s office has denied allegations of biased treatment of cases based on the defense attorney who is involved. The allegations also are being investigated based on an ethics complaint filed by former deputy DA Katie Steers with the Colorado Supreme Court.That investigation is continuing despite Truden’s recall. John Gleason, the court’s regulation counsel, said Wednesday that a change in an attorney’s employment status has no bearing on an investigation by his office of alleged misconduct by the attorney.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516dwebb@postindependent.com


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