Part of ethics complaint against DA dismissed
State investigators have dismissed a portion of an ethics complaint involving District Attorney Colleen Truden and her office.The action involved an allegation that DA employee Robin Allweiss engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.Assistant DA Vince Felletter said it’s his understanding that the same allegation against fellow employee Josh Ritter has been dismissed as well.John Gleason, regulation counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court, informed Allweiss of the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel’s decision in a letter to Allweiss’ attorney, Philip Cherner, of Denver.”Based on the facts of this case, the matter has been dismissed,” he said.Former deputy DA Katherine Steers raised the issue as part of an ethics complaint she filed with Gleason’s office. She also has accused Truden and Felletter of discriminating against defendants on plea bargain decisions based on which attorney is representing them.Truden hired Ritter and Allweiss as interns while both were awaiting the results of their bar exams. Colorado’s Student Practice Act allowed them to participate in court cases under an attorney’s supervision, but the state was investigating whether they received proper oversight.Gleason wrote, “Based upon the provisions of Colorado’s Student Practice Act, the Office of Regulation Counsel has determined that the circumstances here do not warrant imposition of discipline.”Attorneys violating ethics rules, including DAs, can face actions ranging from private admonition up to suspension or even disbarment.Felletter said it appears the state is still investigating the remainder of Steers’ complaint.”I’m very confident we will be vindicated in that, just as we were in this part of it,” he said.Steers’ other allegations were the subject of a court hearing Monday. Defense attorney Jeff Cheney has asked that a special prosecutor be appointed in a case he is handling regarding the shooting of a dog. Steers and Tony Hershey, who also had worked for Truden as a prosecutor, testified Monday that Truden and Felletter referred to an enemies list of attorneys who had spoken out against Truden or worked for her predecessor, Mac Myers. Steers said Cheney, who resigned as one of Truden’s prosecutors earlier this year, was on that list.Judge Dan Petre is scheduled to rule on the special prosecutor request by Dec. 22.Truden faces a recall election Dec. 13, and her critics, including several ex-employees, accuse her of lying and mismanaging her office, allegations she denies.Felletter contends Steers is making her allegations for political purposes. He said the DA’s office filled out the proper paperwork regarding Ritter and Allweiss and always provided the required supervision of them.Ritter has since passed his bar exam. Allweiss failed her exam, which made her no longer eligible to continue the work she was doing under the Student Practice Act. She is now acting in a paralegal capacity for the DA’s Office.Allweiss said Tuesday she’s happy the complaint was dismissed but upset by Steers’ accusation. She said Steers should have looked into the situation more closely before taking action against her. She said she never even worked with Steers, who left her job before Allweiss was hired.”I don’t even know who she is. That’s why this doesn’t even make any sense to me,” Allweiss said.Steers declined to comment Tuesday.Allweiss, 45, said her father was a prosecutor, and all her life she’s wanted to be one. But she’s disillusioned by her experience and the criticism of the DA’s office since she began her job.”It’s not this office, it’s the town. I’m very hurt by what’s going on and what’s been done to me.”She said while some employers would mandate the dismissal of someone who has failed to pass the bar exam, the DA’s office has been supportive of her.”This is honestly the first place I’ve worked where there are just really decent, decent human beings. It’s just a shame that people don’t know that,” she said.Allweiss said she hasn’t decided if she wants to try to pass the bar exam again and remain at the DA’s Office. She came from Denver for the job but could go home to Florida, she said.”I Google myself now and I see 15 to 16 stories about unauthorized practice of law,” she said in frustration. She said she’s done nothing unethical but has suffered at the hands of people who have left the DA’s Office and have a grudge against it.”You know what, if you’re not happy, you move on. … To do this, what they’re doing to people here, they’re taking lives and they’re just destroying them and it’s a very, very sad thing.”
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