Truden touts diversity of her experience | PostIndependent.com
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Truden touts diversity of her experience

Ninth Judicial District Attorney candidate Colleen Truden says if she’s elected, the diversity of her legal background will give her an advantage over her opponent, H. Lawson Wills.The two Republican attorneys are vying for voter support in Tuesday’s primary election. The winner of the primary likely will become the 9th Judicial District’s next district attorney because there is no Democratic challenger. Truden touts 22 years of experience in law, including civil litigation in private practice, clerking for judges, being a municipal judge and coordinating with various federal agencies while working for the Indiana Department of Corrections. “I was partly responsible for overseeing the entire caseload, then I’d work with the deputy DAs,” she said of her corrections job. But as her opponent has repeatedly pointed out during the sometimes-heated campaign, Truden has never worked as a prosecutor. “She claims 22 years of trial/appellate experience, but she’s never been in a jury trial,” Wills said. “She’s very deceptive in the way she characterizes her experience.”Despite Truden’s admitted lack of experience as a prosecutor, she insists the “breadth of my experience gives me an advantage rather than having tunnel vision.””I don’t see the role of district attorney as having an active docket, but I certainly do not expect full-time management. I plan to carry a partial caseload,” she said. Truden has a solid backing from Garfield County law enforcement personnel. But contrary to the picture Wills painted – he says she was “drafted” by law enforcement people – Truden said she was drafted by people other than police. “It was not law enforcement who first approached me,” she said. Truden, however, did not say who first approached her, only revealing that it was “different individuals.””It wasn’t just law enforcement officers that talked to me,” she said. Truden feels she is supported by law enforcement because she knows many of them and has worked well with them in the past, she said.”They know my ability to interact with groups and bring about effective partnerships where people can work together in an environment that is positive,” she said. Truden also challenges Wills’ notion that she’ll cater to police, taking any case they bring her way. “I’m absolutely not going to take just any case they throw at me,” she said. “I think what they see more is that I’m someone who will review their cases and get back with them instead of saying ‘No, no, no, no.'”Truden has been critical of current district attorney Mac Myers’ tendency to offer plea bargains in the majority of cases that come before the courts. But despite this argument, she stopped short of saying she would reduce the number of plea bargains offered if she were to win office. “I don’t know. You have to really look at the entire picture,” she said. Truden did say she would like to see more trials, and if there have to be plea bargains, “I would rather have people pleading to what they did,” she said. Wills has also described Truden as being an “outsider” to the happenings in the 9th Judicial District. But Truden disagrees with that assessment. “I probably see things more from a judicial perspective, which would be a more balanced view than an insider’s view,” she said. “I don’t consider myself an outsider; I don’t consider myself having the same view as Lawson, for sure.”Truden said that if elected, she would be an independent evaluator of cases. “I have absolutely no intention of delegating my responsibility to anybody,” she said. “That is the DA’s responsibility.”Truden also said her ability to lead an experienced prosecution staff, despite her lack of experience in the area of prosecution, is solid. “They’re at the point of anxiety. They’ve heard all sorts of rumors about what I will or won’t be able to do. Once they’re able to assess it for themselves, there won’t be a problem. I don’t think it’s going to be an issue,” she said.Truden said, if elected, she’ll teach her employees by giving them greater supervision and more mentoring than they’ve received in the past. “I think you have a responsibility to help those younger deputies develop their career,” she said. Truden said if she’s elected, she’ll also reassess the way cases are screened. In the current administration, one deputy district attorney, Jim Leuthauser, screens all cases that come into the office. But she figures by letting all deputies share the screening process, it could help them to broaden their legal knowledge. “I’d definitely like to look at the system,” she said.Contact Greg Massé: 945-8515, ext. 511gmasse@postindependent.com


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