Pulling us out of the mainstream

rampant corruption that pervades our sheriff's department. It's so bad, in fact, I was nearly convinced our entire county government had become infected. A recent examination of the petition process has left me pleasantly surprised. As our County Clerk, Sara Rosene is responsible for verifying the

The last three issues of Grand County Uncensored have focused on the




January 13, 2012 || Volume 2, Number 1 || Free

Opinion and Commentary By Reggie Paulk

signatures submitted by potential candidates for elections that take place inside state registry; and finally the output of a petition report.

Grand County. The process involves the intake of petitions; conversion of written signatures and addresses into a digital format; comparison of that database to a A few weeks ago, a concerned citizen approached me and asked if I'd look

into the 2010 sheriff election. For this exercise, I made a request for copies of both Sheriff Johnson in the 2010 election. Unlike the sheriff's department, who refused to meet my requests or just

the petitions and petition reports for the two candidates who planned to run against outright ignored them, Sara Rosene immediately responded and had copies of the petitions in the mail the next day. The petition reports, on the other hand, took a week to make their way to me, and this is where I became suspicious. When I did receive the petition reports, the date on one report was

10/16/10­­one day after the petition for the candidate had been submitted for review. Conversely, the date on the second petition report was 12/21/11­­one day after I made the request for information. Knowing that the sheriff routinely changes report. I contacted the Colorado Secretary of State's office. incident reports and narratives after they've been signed, this immediately rang alarm bells, and I was determined to independantly verify the information in the My initial call with the state helped me understand their statewide voter

registration system (SCORE), an electronic database shared by all counties in the state. The explanation I was given did not rule out the possibility that something officials, so I had no way of getting independently verifiable information unless I The SCORE database is only accessible to state and local elections untoward may have happened with the petition, so I continued my investigation. approached the state. I continued to dig into the details of some of the questionable addresses in the petition report without outside assistance. With the help of Google and some time, I was able to contact one person who'd signed the petition in 2010 listing a Granby address; the only problem is they were listed as living in Bailey, the state with this information. Colorado. This person was able to verify they hadn't moved to Bailey until January,

2011; nine months after signing the petition. I approached both our county clerk and to answer the bulk of my questions. But there was still no way for me to verify A day later, I received a detailed response from Sara Rosene that appeared

This is a little ditty from the November 16, 2011 issue of the Desert News: "A Salt Lake County constable and his wife have been charged with altering a police report to downplay an officer's use of force. Silvan Warnick, 55, and his wife, Alanna Warnick, 53, both were charged Tuesday in 3rd District Court with tampering with evidence, a third­ degree felony." In Colorado, the punishment for being convicted of a third class felony can range between 4­12 years of imprisonment, and anywhere between a $3,000 to a $750,000 fine. Tampering with police evidence is serious business, and constitutes a serious crime. When this type of crime is committed by a law enforcement officer or officers, the breach in the public's trust is devastating. When it's committed by those in positions of leadership within the law enforcement community, the damage can be immesurable. My coverage of the Grand County Sheriff has opened a floodgate and the water is just now beginning to rise about his feet. The corruption and lawlessness is blatant. It is pervasive. It is dangerous. It is so bad that other law enforcement agencies are aware of it and are trying to avoid dealing with it. They're not going to be able to do that for much longer. If I told you it was standard operating procedure for the Grand County sheriff to alter police reports and other documents after the fact, you'd demand proof. We're talking about a possible felony offense here, and this is a serious allegation. Well, not one to disappoint, here's a direct quote from a former undersheriff of Rod Johnson with regard to records: "But, ah, we try to keep our business in house. Because, ah, there's checkboxes and we give very limited information to the county we don't really want them to know. We've got information in our personnel files that they don't have access to which they'd love to. They don't get them, that's the sheriff's thing. So, uh, I think on a couple of them we even went back over them and changed some things uh, ya know because, uh, what we have in our file and what they have over there are two different things. Only because we don't want them to have dirt on us over there." The above "dirt" was obtained on strict condition of anonymity, and is a transcript from a recorded conversation. There's more though. I've been approached by numerous sheriff's department employees, again on condition of anonymity, about the state of records­keeping by our illustrious sheriff. According to them, being ordered to alter police and incident reports after the fact is standard operating procedure. The impact of altering police reports on the accused can be devastating. It can enhance the charges they face; increase potential jail and prison sentences; and cause permanent, irreversible damage to a person's reputation. So where is our District Attorney (DA) in all of this? Why hasn't she taken action to investigate what is common knowlege to just about everyone in Hot Sulphur? A quick search on Google opened up a whole other can of worms. I contacted the author of a very scathing article, and was given permission to reprint it. It's offered for historical reference, and to provide more insight into the dysfunctional inner­workings of the judicial aparatus in Grand County. At the end of the day, holding your nose and checking the box "for the team," may not be in your own best interest when it comes time to vote.

Tampering With Police Evidence: A Third Class Felony

whether those who'd been rejected due to party affiliation were legitimate or not.

Resolving the addresses was also an issue. Luckily, I was later provided with a disc containing the county election database from the time the petitions were circulated. Using the disc, I went through each of the 409 signatures in the petitions. few signatures rejected when they shouldn't have been, but the database itself Rosene that verified what I had discovered. As I progressed, it became clear that my suspicions were unfounded. There were a could be to blame for that; not the county clerk. I was convinced that the petition had been properly vetted before being rejected. Then I received an e­mail from Ms. She took the initiative to ask the state for a custom extract of the voter

record as it appeared in 2010, so I could compare it to the printouts she'd mailed to in Grand County, and I thank Clerk Rosene for that.

me. I can safely say that I have no doubts about the integrity of the petition process

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Elizabeth Oldham: Steamboat Springs DA Short on Legal Experience but Well Versed in Adultery, Evidence Withholding and other forms of Cheating
Despite a history of ethics violations and relatively scant experience as a lawyer, in 2008 Elizabeth Oldham was elected head District Attorney for Colorado’s 14th Judicial District, a geographically sprawling district that encompasses Routt, Grand and Moffat counties, and includes the ski resort of Steamboat Springs. It would not be unfair to conclude if more information about her ethical history had been reported to the public and to the Office of Attorney Regulation, the result might have turned out differently. Why is that? I should first point out that the information about Oldham’s career at the 14th and why she was forced to leave there for several years and join Mark Hurlbert’s 5th District Attorney’s office, is not disputed at all by Oldham. She sat down during the campaign for a lengthy interview with Steamboat Springs publisher Thomas Reuter. In the original post, I linked to the URL for that article, but under what Reuter described to me as local pressure, he removed that URL from his website a few weeks ago. When I discovered the link was no longer current, I contacted Reuter and he sent me a downloaded PDF of the article, which I have now embedded on my website. In that interview, Oldham admitted to Reuter that she’d committed serious misconduct while a Deputy District Attorney in the 14th Judicial District when she, married herself, embarked on an affair with her married­with­children boss, the head DA. While Oldham’s marriage remained intact, it broke up the former head DA’s marriage and devastated his wife and children. I have done independent research, and recently spoke with this now­Senior Judge’s former wife. Seven years later, she and her family are still devastated. Because of this, I have removed the name of her former husband and Oldham paramour from this post. A Senior Judge, in addition to collecting his PERA pension at a far younger age than most of us get to retire, picks up an additional 20 percent for filling in for judges on vacations and conducting overflow work. I hope the majority of it goes to his family. The affair was a violation of the DA’s office ethics rules for reasons that should be obvious. Each attorney is sworn to uphold state ethics rules, and many rules apply to DAs that don’t apply to private attorneys, because under the law, prosecutors are sworn to seek justice, even if that means losing a case. By contrast, defense attorneys opposing them in court, are bound by ethics rules, but are free to defend the guilty and in fact are required to use all legal means to vigrously defend their clients. In practice, though, many DAs pursue their prosecutions seeking only to win, justice be damned. Sometimes the DAs just want notches on their belts, and sometimes they are settling personal scores with lawyers or defendants they don’t like. A boss might overlook ethical violations by his mistress; he might encourage her to cover up his own ethical violations. He might be threatened if he left the mistress against her desires with disclosure of the affair to the public or his wife. In addition, as Reuter points out, a DA is an officer of the court and representations they make will generally be taken at face value by judges in what is called a “proffer” — a statement of alleged facts made without swearing under oath, which serves to immunize the DA from potential perjury if they lie. Their entire job involves proof of the truth. In theory.
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By Laura Victoria: abusivediscretion.wordpress.com

Thus, if someone goes around lying to her husband or his wife, to co­workers, to friends on a daily basis, it doesn’t take an imaginative leap to conclude such an individual is not particularly trustworthy in general. The wife of the then­head 14th District Attorney was a clerk of the court. She came into contact with Oldham every day and thought she was her friend, all the while being betrayed (She denies Reuter’s report that she spread news of the affair around the court house). That’s why such conduct has brought down the careers of politicians who we don’t even expect to be telling the truth routinely, such as presidential candidate John Edwards, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford or New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer. The media coverup of John Edward's infidelities and lies could well have changed the outcome of the presidential election in 2008, as his continued campaigning while the media kept his secrets arguably took a lot of votes away from Hillary Clinton. Oldham’s series of ethical violations was no big secret in legal circles, but it was from the general public and litigants in Hurlbert’s 5th Judicial District after he brought her aboard despite not only ethical violations of 14th District policies, but his own appropriate policies as well. He told me in a note dated March 29, 2010, he would hire her back had he the opportunity. Hurlbert did not deny the ethics violations (and how in the small mountain communities of DAs and judges could he, or local judges, not have known). In addition, he has failed to report other ethics violations by her as required by the Office of Attorney Regulation. And just when one would think all this legal hypocrisy couldnt get any worse, the former 14th District DA was appointed a District Court Judge by former­governor Bill Owens. This left Ms. Oldham with an obvious conflict of interest problem, as she could not ethically have any of her cases adjudicated before him. And akin to all the bad cops that get kicked out of one department and then, behind the backs of the public who pay them, get jobs in a new and unsuspecting town or suburb, Oldham moved to Summit County. Mark Hurlbert ultimately promoted her to his third in command, Chief Deputy. Hurlbert, facing term limits he unsuccessfully tried to extend, is now a candidate for State Senate District 16. The real kick is the reasons Owens gave for the appointment of an ethically challenged District Attorney to a judgeship. “During the course of the selection process," said Owens, "I heard from a wide range of members of the community about [his] courage, integrity and excellent legal skills. These qualities combined with his exceptional intellect will serve him well as District Court judge.” I guess Bill Owens had a very different definition of “integrity” than most Coloradans. The restored interview, in a downloaded PDF, may be viewed by visiting tinyurl.com/89pmq46. I would note that there’s a lot of stuff in there that’s not my style, in particular the observations about what a “legal cutie” Oldham supposedly is. My characterization of her would not be fit to print.

Editor's Note: Elizabeth Oldham's term expires at the end of 2012. You'll have the option of voting for a replacement in November, and I'll try my best to research the backgrounds of any potential candidates.

Contact the editor: reggie.paulk@gmail.com (303)552­7963

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