DA office actions need independent investigation | PostIndependent.com

DA office actions need independent investigation

District Attorney Mac Myers’ apology for mishandling of information in hundreds of criminal prosecutions is a start, but it’s not enough.

For the sake of shoring up public trust in his office, an independent investigation of the matter should take place.

It has come to light that up to 190 court cases involving former Silt police officer Michael Williams might have been tainted because Myers’ office either forgot to provide, or, in the worst case, purposely withheld, information calling into question Williams’ reliability as a witness.

Williams pleaded guilty to official misconduct in a 1997 case in which he was accused of falsifying an alcohol breath test while a policeman in Frisco. Myers has acknowledged that his office had that information for 31⁄2 years but failed to provide it to defense attorneys, who might have been able to use it to obtain acquittals in cases that hinged on Williams’ testimony.

The implications are huge: People who have been convicted and sentenced to do time or otherwise been punished could have their convictions overturned.

Myers has conducted an in-house investigation and says disciplinary action could be forthcoming against prosecutor Trisha Lacey, who he said had the material and didn’t bring it forward.

Given Myers’ solid performance as DA over the years, we are inclined to believe him. But he needs more than that for his office to regain its credibility in a court of law. A special prosecutor would independently assess whether the mishandled information was an oversight or intentional, and whether it involved one prosecutor or a wider-spread problem in Myers’ office.

In the future, defense attorneys and the criminally accused need to know that prosecutors will make every good-faith effort to produce any information that might help the defense’s case. An outside investigation – requested by defense attorneys, a judge or Myers himself – is the best way to get to the bottom of this matter, for the sake of justice.

Meanwhile, we shouldn’t forget that the problem began with Silt’s hiring of a cop with a problematic past. Credibility is as important a weapon as a gun for a policeman, and police should be hiring officers whose truthfulness can’t be questioned on the stand.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.