Tag Archives: District Attorneys

Colorado Female Basketball Coach Faces Felony Charges For Sex With 17-1/2 Year Old Male “Child” – Basalt High Teacher Lauren Redfern Charged by Eagle DA Mark Hurlbert

Basalt High's Lauren Redfern Coaching Her Girls Basketball Team - Aspen Times

In a bizarre story of legislative ineptitude, sure to invoke the ire of Fox’s Bill O’Reilly for all the wrong reasons, Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert has charged the hot, athletic, 25-year old Lauren Redfern with several acts of consensual sex with a male “child” who was also a student at Colorado’s Basalt High where Ms. Redfern taught him a P.E. class.  I kid you not, Ms. Redfern faces 16 long years in prison for this joke of a charge that at most should be a misdemeanor.

The Aspen Dailey News shares some details, as does the Aspen Times.  The Swift-owned Times explains the “nuances” of Colorado laws on young adults having sex with relatively old minors:

Colorado law has some nuances when it comes to sexual relations between people in their late teens and adults. An 18-year-old can have a consensual sexual relationship with an older adult, even a teacher, without a crime being committed, McWilliam said. That would violate policies of most schools, but it isn’t a crime because an 18-year-old is considered an adult.

A 17-year-old can have sexual relations with an adult of any age as long as it’s not a person in a position of trust — such as a teacher, according to McWilliam.

Sorry, but the hot adults a late teen is likely to meet are these “people of trust.”  Late teens generally can’t go to bars and meet untrustworthy adults there.  (I’ll be blogging later about how head District Attorneys in positions of trust are rewarded instead of punished for far worse sexual transgressions in Colorado’s 18th Judicial District as we follow the re-election bid of DA Elizabeth Oldham (RINO – Grand County).  Here’s a couple blog posts of mine from 2010 about DA Oldham and her transgressions.)

Back to the hot action at Basalt High.  How were these sexual encounters discovered?  Apparently the gossip mill was running at full-tilt in Basalt and school officials discovered the relationship while collecting their union paychecks.

Man-child “X”, the alleged victim,  is now 18, and did not seek to have charges pressed, nor did his family.  But according to nanny-state enabler Eagle County Undersheriff Mike McWilliam, this doesn’t matter one little bit.  “It’s really not in their hands,” McWilliam said of alleged victims in these heinous cases.  These are cases where we, “The People of the State of Colorado” are the aggrieved party.

Meanwhile, plenty of real dangerous criminals run free in Colorado and even down here in Los Cabos, Mexico, where real victims want real charges filed.  But they aren’t.

ExPat ExLawyer herself is one such victim here in Mexico.  Right now, I’m blogging from the left – not politically speaking -no, never.  Literally speaking.  My right arm was shattered in an unprovoked attack and I just had surgery involving six screws and one titanium plate.  The assailant meanwhile is still running around loose.  I’ll be blogging about my experience with the Mexican criminal justice system soon.

Ex Kobe DA Mark Hurlbert and Republican Tim Leonard Square off Tonight at Colo. State Senate Candidates Forum

Mark Hurlbert will take his first questions to date in a head-to-head forum against Evergreen businessman Tim Leonard.  The two are competing in the Republican Colorado 16th State Senate district race.  Democrat incumbent Dan Gibbs announced late last year that he would not run for re-election, leaving the seat open and vulnerable to a Republican party anxious to retake the Colorado legislature and to reverse the 21-14 advantage currently held by the Democrats in the senate.

The forum, slated for tonight in Evergreen, is sponsored by the Mountain Republican Women’s Club, a long-standing and effective grassroots conservative organization.  First to enter the race, Tim Leonard has been upfront on the issues as a conservative/libertarian, who holds an MBA in real estate finance from the University of Denver.  Leonard’s website lays out in detail his views on the issues including his support for Clear the Bench Colorado and his signing the candidate pledge for the Colorado Taxpayers Union.

To say his opponent, 5th District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, has been reticent about what he believes on unemployment, taxes and spending would be gross understatement.  His website doesn’t even have an “Issues” tab, and what is known about him shows him to be a RINO who has spent his entire adult life as a government lawyer.

In the 43 days and counting since Hurlbert announced his candidacy, he has faced no press questions, and has labeled himself, with the assistance of GOP boss Dick Wadhams, as the “Green Republican.”  Hurlbert no doubt will have to answer what the heck that means, as well as other tough questions tonight.   Mouthing platitudes such as “small, efficient government” won’t cut it with this tough crowd.  After all, we hear Robert Gibbs make these claims every day about Barack Obama.  That’s why I’ve named him Hurlbert Hurlritter.

Hiring a Criminal Lawyer in Colorado: Part 1 of a How to Guide

Let me be blunt.  Colorado has lots of  strange laws and procedures and also pretty slim pickings when it comes to finding a really good criminal defense lawyer.  Plus, they all know each other.  So if your first attorney-client relationship doesn’t work out, other lawyers in Colorado might be scared off. They also might not want to create bad blood with their colleagues by seeming to be poaching their clients.  So best to get it right the firt time around.

Readers should also know I speak from having been one.  I’m a burned out lawyer with a new career who still passionately likes to follow and write about the legal system.   So as the title of this blog indicates, I am not a licensed attorney and nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice.
I also have no dog in this fight, as I am not a practicing Colorado lawyer and I will not receive any compensation for the attorneys I recommend.   referral fees are illegal in Colorado

I will also do something you don’t see on most sites:  tell you about some lawyers you should not hire based on personal observations of how these attorneys handle their cases.  Some of these attorneys will probably be miffed at me, but hey, truth is an absolute defense for public criticism.

This first in a series of articles on How to Hire a Criminal Attorney in Colorado will focus on misdemeanor cases, and will speak to the very different situations someone charged with a crime faces in a small community versus one of Colorado’s metro areas.

Get a Free Attorney Consultation Before Going to Court

In many Colorado jurisdictions, such as Summit County, if you show up alone the court clerk will direct you to meet with a DA to discuss your case and get an offer.  You won’t get a Miranda warning because they don’t have to give you one as you are technically free to leave and are not in police custody.  Believe me, the DA is not your friend and is not there to help you.  They want people to plead out to their deal without getting an iota of objective legal advice.

At your free consultation you should ask the lawyer about your bond conditions. These are on one of the many forms you probably signed without reading it to get out of jail.  For a DUI, the bond conditions will typically include a prohibition of drinking alcohol–regardless if you are driving or not and even if you are just enjoying a glass of wine in the privacy of your own home.  A violation of bond if the DA charges it carries a minimum six month jail sentence. If you’ve used a bail bondsman, he or she should explain the bond conditions to you in detail.

If you’re in a small town like Edwards, for example, and are out at a local bar having a drink, even if you’re walking home, if a cop knows who you are, he can and likely will handcuff you right then and there and send you back to jail.

As the most common misdemeanor offense, I will use the DUI as my primary example in this series.  The DUI is a complicated law, particularly when it comes to sentencing and the likely three years of probation you’ll get along with the sentence.  Probation is like being at the end of a short leash with a choke collar.   Even if the attorney cannot get you a better “offer” than what the DA would give you if you showed up all by yourself, the attorney will be able to guide you through the process, including helping you complete the myriad laundry list of probation conditions.  See the next article in this series for more on hiring a misdemeanor attorney and the DUI process in Colorado.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: The Forfeiture Racket, or How the Government can Seize Your Money and Property without Charges

In the February issue of Reason, Radley Balko has written an excellent, comprhensive summary of the largely unknown constitutional abuse of the public known as civil forfeiture law.  In The Forfeiture Racket, Radley lays out some of the more heinous current abuses and the history of the forfeiture law’s end run around the contitution.  Radley details how the law enforcement tag team of  prosecutors and cops use this racket  to keep what is essentially stolen property for their own agencies,  including personal junkets.  The complete article is here.

Mark Hurlbert, Failed Kobe Bryant DA, to Run for Colorado State Senate Against Tim Leonard – Updated

Mark Delbert Hurlbert, the prosecutor best known for his failed and aborted prosecution of Laker’s basketball star Kobe Bryant,  announced last week through the Summit Daily that he will run for Colorado’s 16th District State Senate seat.  Hurlbert’s announcement came after he unsuccessfully tried to extend term limits that would have ended his reign as 5th Judicial District Attorney at the end of 2012.

Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert is taking a lot of heat for his handling of the Kobe Bryant case (NBC Sports) Photo - Eric Lesser/Getty Image File

Hurlbert claimed his vast geographic district made the learning curve for the DA a steep one, and that he had the dual role as both an active trial prosecutor, as well as head administrator and supervisor of the relatively small office. In a video from an August 2009 Republican event (discovered after this article was originally published) Hurlbert stated that “after four years as DA you’re just finding out where the bathroom’s at.”

He also spoke of other officials having no term limits or longer ones,  but he fails to note that because likely candidates for DAs would probably come from local attorneys who need DA cooperation in resolving their clients cases,  few if any opponents want to step up and take a shot at the king.   They prefer to run for open seats, and as evidence of this Hurlbert was the only name on the ballot in 2008.  (Local lawyers have told me that they are looking forward to an open seat in 2012 and are working on finding a top-notch candidate from the defense bar to run for the post).

Lake County, unhappy with his performance as DA, thwarted his efforts to get the term limit extension on the ballot.  Hurlbert vowed to try again in 2010 to get the extensions assuming he could repair his relationships with Lake County officials and residents. Apparently, his contact with that county was sending his requests for budget increases to them every year, but making no personal visits.

Then, unexpectedly, popular Democrat incumbent Dan Gibbs decided not to seek reelection. Despite his proclaimed desire to be DA as long as possible, an election to the State Senate will actually cut short his current term by two years, making folks wonder what his real goals are. Well most don’t wonder all that much.  They know he is a career politician who has never worked a private sector job in his career.

And he opens his campaign announcement extolling the virtues of government in helping ordinary Americans.  He even lives in government subsidized housing, though he is one-half of a two-attorney family. He received a pay raise, in the middle of a recession on January 1 that raised his salary to $110,000 (plus taxpayer pension contributions equal to 13% of that salary, as well as other benefits).  The state Senate post only pays $30,000, and though he could supplement that with part-time work for a law firm, for example, perhaps the run for Gibbs’ seat is just the first step in climbing up the political food chain.

He will have a tough, conservative/libertarian primary opponent in Evergreen businessman Tim Leonard.  Tim Leonard definitely believes in smaller government and greater civil liberties, and is a signer of the fiscal conservative manifesto-the CUT pledge established by the Colorado Union of Taxpayers.

Hurlbert  had no website  when this article was originally published, but launched one in early February.

Update: On March 22, I updated this post as it is still read often and my blogging skills were quite green two months ago.  I elaborated on some issues, and added a few embedded links (I was so technically inept I didn’t know how to embed links when this was published on January 21.  I didn’t know how to embed photos; I added one).  I also added some information that was in existence at the time, but which I had yet to discover.  I also tried to improve the writing.

Elizabeth Oldham: Steamboat Springs DA Short on Legal Experience but Well Versed in Adultery, Evidence Withholding and other forms of Cheating – UPDATED

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 Local 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 at the bottom of this post.

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 married-with-children boss, the head DA.  His name is mentioned in the attached article, but is misspelled.  It should have an “a” where it has an “o”.  While Oldham’s marriage remained intact, it broke up the former head DA’s marriage and devastated his wife and children.

As usual, I have done independent research, and recently spoke with this now-Senior 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, 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 jobs involve proof of the truth.  In theory.

Thus, if someone goes around lying to her husband or his wife, to co-workers, 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 then-head 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.  (And 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 Edwards’ 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 wrote me today, 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 former-governor 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.  Owens  said:  “During the course of the selection process 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.

Here’s the restored interview, in a downloaded pdf.  Elizabeth Oldham’s Adultery, Ethics Violations, and Conflict of Interest with 14th District DA: Elizabeth Oldham’s Interview with Thomas Reuter. I would note that there’s a lot of stuff here 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.