Myers doubts DA’s stats
Post Independent Staff
Former 9th Judicial District Attorney Mac Myers says that statistics released by current DA Colleen Truden don’t add up.
In a press release Monday, Truden said felony convictions are up 8 percent from January to July in the 9th Judicial District, which covers Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Myers, now an assistant DA in the 22nd Judicial District in Cortez, questioned the DA’s caseload for the first six months of the year. He said the numbers are probably driven more by a rise in crime rather than cases filed by the DA’s office.
Myers also said felony filings were down in the 9th Judicial District in previous years on his watch. However, conclusions about a DA’s performance should be made on the percentage of convictions made on felony cases filed.
“I think the real key to assessing performance is not comparing numbers of filings this year as opposed to last year, but the percentage of felony convictions to the number of felony filings. When she says felony charges are up 58 percent in Garfield County and felony convictions were up 8 percent, that raises some questions,” he said.
Truden acknowledged that various factors account for the increase.
“The crime level is up,” Truden said. “There are various components … I think we have greater population that has brought with it certain level of increase (in crime). And much as (Myers) hates to hear it, we’re filing more cases. I think we’re responding more to what police are bringing us.”
According to the state judicial branch Web site, felony cases filed in 9th Judicial Court decreased more than 5 percent from 2003 to 2004.
“There could be some reasons for that,” Myers said. “A lot of cases get set for trial and are working their way through the system or plea bargained. I suspect about half the cases have been (settled) by now. I expect a 25 to 30 percent conviction rate if she’s on par with what we’re doing.”
Myers also pointed out that although Truden claimed her misdemeanor filings increased, such filings are not a function of the DA’s office.
“In county court, the DA has nothing to do with filings; 90 percent of it is done by the police who write the tickets,” he said.
Truden has maintained that the numbers prove she is delivering on her campaign promise to get tough on crime. Myers scoffed at the notion.
“The whole business of getting tough on crime is bogus, because I never knew a prosecutor who wasn’t (tough on crime) … I certainly tried my share of high-profile cases. I put a lot of young people away for the rest of their lives. I know what tough is … I also gave people breaks. It’s really a balance.”
Truden stands by her performance so far this year.
“It’s almost ridiculous that (Myers) finds it necessary to comment on what we are up to. My detractors are saying we’re a train wreck waiting to happen. In fact, we have filed more cases and gotten more convictions during that same period of time (as last year).”
Myers left office at the end of 2004 because of term limitations.
Truden has been the target of a recall effort since July 12. A total of 10 attorneys and staff members have left Truden’s office since she took over in Jan. 11. There have also been questions over her handling of her budget and accounting practices.
Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510
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