DA says there’s ‘zero evidence’ of retaliation against former Kremmling police chief
The prosecutor is repudiating Jamie Lucas’ efforts to get a judge to dismiss the charges against him, saying the former Kremmling police chief made up the conflict of interest Lucas alleges.
In a response to Lucas filing a motion to dismiss the charges against him or have the judge appoint a special prosecutor, 14th Judicial District Attorney Matt Karzen has asked the judge to deny Lucas’ request on grounds that Lucas didn’t offer evidence or demonstrate the extreme circumstances needed to grant the motion.
Lucas was charged with multiple counts of official misconduct, official oppression and false reporting in January on allegations he mishandled an animal abuse case last October. In May, Lucas pleaded not guilty and a trial was set for Oct. 12-13.
Since then, Lucas’ attorney, Jeffrey Eidsness, has filed a motion to dismiss the charges or have a special prosecutor appointed by alleging Karzen is retaliating against Lucas for comments Lucas made critical of the ethics at the DA’s office.
Karzen maintains Lucas’ accusations of retaliation and ethics violations are false. Lucas has not yet filed a formal complaint against the office.
In his motion, Eidsness detailed a contested history between Lucas and Karzen, which the attorney argues led to discriminatory prosecution in an effort to silence Lucas.
On Friday, the DA’s office filed a response to the motion saying it “presents zero evidence” that other law enforcement officers haven’t been charged for the same conduct.
As for why Karzen chose to prosecute Lucas for jurisdictional errors, which Eidsness had claimed is unusual, the response argues that Lucas was fully aware his actions were inappropriate.
“It is not the people’s position in this case that defendant made an inadvertent mistake regarding the law of jurisdiction or the limits of his lawful authority,” the DA’s response reads. “It is the people’s position (that the) defendant knowingly acted outside of his jurisdiction and lawful authority under circumstances such that the elements of all charged crimes are established beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Karzen contends the false reporting charges meet the state statutes and dismisses the idea that those charges have no basis.
For these reasons, Karzen asks the judge not to dismiss the charges. Responding to Lucas’ request for a special prosecutor, Karzen cited several cases as evidence that removing a district attorney from a case should be a “drastic remedy that should only occur in narrow circumstances.”
According to Karzen, Lucas hasn’t proved special circumstances or personal interest on Karzen’s behalf that would prevent him from prosecuting the case fairly.
In reference to the comments Lucas made about ethical concerns, Karzen emphasized that Lucas cannot make baseless accusations about the DA’s office and then point to those accusations as evidence of an appearance of impropriety.
In his motion, Lucas claimed that a letter of declination from the DA’s office showed a personal interest because it was critical of Lucas’ behavior at the time. Karzen disagreed, saying that sharing professional concerns doesn’t constitute a personal interest.
“People can say anything they want, make any accusation they want and thereby create an ‘appearance,’” the response reads. “The integrity of the criminal justice process … cannot be subject to such a chaotic standard.”
Even if Lucas were to file a complaint against the DA’s office with the Colorado Supreme Court, as he has said he plans to, that wouldn’t disqualify the office from prosecuting the case, Karzen wrote.
Judge Nicholas Cantanzarite previously said he planned to issue a written response within two weeks of Karzen filing his response. Lucas’ next court date is Sept. 21.
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