Conversation with … Tammy Stewart, candidate for district attorney
September 8, 2008
Tammy Stewart is a candidate for district attorney of the 14th Judicial District, which covers Grand, Routt and Moffat counties. She has 19 years experience as an attorney and 12 years experience as a deputy district attorney.
A Colorado native, Stewart earned her undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Colorado. She served as Routt County’s prosecutor from 2005-06 when she focused on cases involving crimes against children, domestic violence, and serious and violent crimes.
Stewart lives in Steamboat Springs. She is married with two teenage children.
Why did you decide to become a prosecuting attorney for the DA’s office?
“I’ve always been interested in serving the community, and after I became an attorney, I worked for six years as a public defender because I wanted to see that justice was done. But during those years, I realized that I could actually do more to serve justice as a prosecutor. When I get a conviction, my goal is not only to see that justice is done, but the offender gets the rehabilitation he needs to be able to return to society.”
What do you like about being a prosecuting attorney?
“I like the idea of having some control over the safety of our community. I especially want make sure that children are protected, and I have extensive experience prosecuting crimes against children to keep them safe from sexual predators and abusers. It’s the best thing I’ve done as a prosecutor, and that really makes this job worthwhile.”
How do you approach a case that you plan to prosecute?
“The first thing I do is look at the police reports to make sure the charges are appropriate. I don’t believe in ‘charge stacking’ where every conceivable charge is added up against a defendant. I present only those charges that I believe can be proved. My goal is to ensure that justice is done, and that a person’s civil and constitutional rights are protected.”
How do you feel when you win a case and a guilty verdict is handed down?
” Most of the cases that I’ve worked on are crimes against children. When I’m prosecuting one of those cases, I feel like I’m the only person standing between a little child and the adult who harmed him. When the verdict comes down for the prosecution, I feel that the system has worked and a child has been protected. But that’s the same way I feel in all cases, including those involving crimes against property. You feel you did your job as a prosecutor, the jury did their job and justice was served.”
What is the hardest thing about your job as a prosecuting attorney?
“As a prosecutor, you see the worst of the world. You see the victims who have been hurt and damaged by crime. You try to become hardened to it, but you still bring it home in your mind at night. It’s especially hard when you don’t get the verdict that you believe is just. It feels like the weight of the world and you reflect on yourself.”
If elected this November, what are your goals as the new district attorney?
“I’ll be a working district attorney in our jurisdiction and will handle the most serious cases. That’s important for the credibility of this office.
“I also think we need a lot of changes in how the district attorney’s office operates. We need to do more outreach programs to the community, especially in our schools.
“One such program I want to start is an alternative youth program such as a Teen Court where a lot of petty offenses could be handled. These Teen Courts would have an adult judge with teen prosecutors, defense attorneys and juries. These types of courts have worked well in Front Range communities, and I’d be excited to bring it to our district.
“We already have a Drug Court in Moffat County and I want to bring it to Grand and Routt counties. It deals with first-time offenders to get them the intensive supervision and rehabilitation they need, which will help keep their families together. A separate Drug Court also keeps these cases out the regular courts, which should be handling violent offenders.
“I’ll also begin a Domestic Violence Fast Track Program. After an incident, both the offender and the victim will be in court the next day. This will speed up getting the offender into rehabilitation such as anger management and domestic violence treatment programs, and will get the victim immediate help such as a protection order.
“I also plan to stay in touch with the community by setting up a DA Advisory Board. A variety of people will serve on it so that I can find out what’s important to the public.”