A Message from DBA President Janet Drake

The Make a Difference initiative is a call to action, urging Denver attorneys to do more public service. There are many different ways to engage in public service. This month, I would like to thank and acknowledge the veterans who offered everything to protect our freedom. Military service requires selflessness, courage and bravery. Thank you, veterans, for your service!

I would also like to give some insight into the four candidates for Denver District Attorney, all of whom would like to dedicate their careers to public service. I asked each candidate to answer three questions so that we might learn more about their motivation and vision for the office. Here are their responses:

Boyd

Kenneth Boyd

1. Why do you want to be Denver DA?

I’m running for DA because I want our community to be extraordinary. Denver, along with the rest of the country, is evolving and facing new challenges. Challenging times provide the best opportunity for meaningful change, and I have a comprehensive plan to lead our community forward.

2. Would you make any changes to the Denver DA’s Office? If so, what?

The Office’s commitment to holding the guilty accountable, protecting the innocent and respecting the rights of victims will not change. I’m mindful of the demand for more transparency and accountability. I am committed to holding public fact finding reviews on officer involved fatalities, encouraging greater communication and stronger community partnerships by assigning DAs to neighborhoods throughout Denver and renewing the commitment to crime prevention and wise intervention.

3. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

I am a prosecutor — not a politician, a native Coloradoan and the only Democrat who has handled cases in every major unit of the DA’s office.

Carrigan

Michael Carrigan

1. Why do you want to be Denver DA?

Our city, state and nation are at a critical juncture regarding criminal justice and public safety. I have the perspective, experience and vision required to bring a fresh, modern approach to the office and to ensure that the Denver DA’s Office is one of the premier prosecution offices in the country.

2. Would you make any changes to the Denver DA’s Office? If so, what?

On day one, I would rejoin the bipartisan Colorado District Attorney’s Council (the Denver DA’s Office is the only non-member). I would increase collaboration with Denver’s municipal leaders, encourage attorneys and staff to be more engaged in our community and be more transparent about charging decisions involving excessive use-of-force by law enforcement.

3. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

I am the only candidate who will bring a balanced perspective to the office. During my career, I have been a prosecutor; I have also served as a criminal defense attorney and am currently a partner at a large private law firm — all valuable experiences to bring to the Denver DA’s Office. As a CU Regent (and former Board Chair), I supervised a $3.4 billion budget for Colorado’s third-largest employer.

McCann

Beth McCann

1. Why do you want to be Denver DA?

I am passionate about criminal justice and have been throughout my career. The DA’s position combines two of my great interests: law and social justice. I love the challenge of trial work — being in the courtroom, strategizing about how to present a case effectively to a jury, cross-examining witnesses and presenting a winning case. I am also a life-long advocate of social justice. How do we make the criminal justice system fair to all and effective in preventing and reducing crime? What is an appropriate response to criminal activity in individual cases?

The Denver DA’s Office is at the center of our criminal justice system. The DA can be a leader in examining the system from a broad perspective, making sure that those who need to be removed from society are removed, while also providing alternatives for those who have the potential to be productive citizens. It is an exciting time in criminal justice reform, both nationally and locally, and Denver should be at the forefront!

2. Would you make any changes to the Denver DA’s Office? If so, what?

I am a community person. Throughout my career, I have attended community meetings and sought the advice of community leaders. I believe strongly that as elected officials, we must be accessible and responsive to the community. I would require my deputy district attorneys to attend neighborhood association meetings and make that part of their performance evaluations. I would increase transparency and accessibility.

We must restore trust between law enforcement and the community. Law enforcement officers must be held accountable when they violate the law, and community members should be fully informed about decisions that are made by the DA’s Office. I would involve the community in a more meaningful way in these decisions while respecting the challenges faced by law enforcement officers.

I also plan to work on juvenile justice reform. I want to increase the use of restorative justice in the juvenile system and find more alternatives for those who are just entering the system. We need to intervene and help those who have the potential to choose a different direction.

I also want to address the issue of mass incarceration that we have been experiencing in this country and explore creative ways to keep our communities safe. The issue of jailing those with mental illness is another significant concern that we must address.

3. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

I am the best-qualified candidate for this office. I prosecuted hundreds of cases as a deputy and chief deputy district attorney in Denver. I am the only candidate that became a chief deputy in a district attorney’s office. In this role, I was responsible for a Denver courtroom, and I supervised and mentored other attorneys. I tried cases ranging from DUI’s to first-degree murder, sexual assault, child abuse and white-collar crime.

I have extensive management experience, as a chief deputy district attorney, as the Manager of Safety for Denver (over 3,000 employees and a budget of $180 million) and as the Deputy Attorney General in charge of the Civil Litigation and Employment Law Section (over 30 trial attorneys and support staff).

I have made the law for the last seven years as a State Representative, which has given me a deep appreciation for the value of inclusion, compromise and perseverance. I have been able to pass major human trafficking legislation, significant gun safety legislation, a bill providing increased due process for juveniles facing possible charges as an adult and bills ensuring equal treatment for women in the health care field, among many others. It has been very gratifying to pass laws that correct injustices that I observed when I was a chief deputy in the DA’s Office.

I want to bring this experience to the Denver District Attorney’s office. I am excited about the opportunity to reshape the office to proactively address issues of social justice, crime and security as a trusted community partner.

Morgan

Helen Morgan

1. Why do you want to be Denver DA?

I have proudly serviced as a prosecutor in the Denver District Attorney’s Office for over 21 years. I have dedicated my professional life to the pursuit of justice. As a Chief Deputy District Attorney, I know how critical it is to have an elected District Attorney who has extensive experience in the field of criminal law, as well as the ability to inspire an office of more than 200 people to do the right thing each and every day. It is for these reasons that I am running to be Denver’s first female District Attorney. I look forward to the opportunity to lead the way in responding to crime in a manner that respects every crime victim, no matter who he or she is, and addresses defendants’ mental health and addiction issues to improve the lives of everyone in Denver.

2. Would you change anything about the DA’s Office?

There are two areas I would immediately address as the next District Attorney. The first issue is collaboration and outreach. During my time as a prosecutor handling every type of criminal case, I have learned that the work of the District Attorney’s office is most effective when we leverage the resources we have in our community to reach appropriate outcomes. For example, when I led the effort from the District Attorney’s Office to reestablish Denver’s Drug Court, I knew that we would never succeed if we did not engage treatment providers, mental health experts, housing advocates and other agencies to give all defendants the tools to address their addiction issues, which are at the root of so many criminal activities. As District Attorney, I will expand the reach of our office into every community in Denver and invite partnerships with those best-equipped to assist victims and defendants alike. Jail and prison sentences are appropriate for violent and high-risk offenders, but they cannot be the default sentence for every case. The second issue is the treatment of law enforcement officers. I have spent my career working with outstanding professionals in the field of law enforcement. I know these professionals want to work with my office to regain the trust of many community members who perceive that the District Attorney’s office is unwilling to charge officers who violate the law. A badge cannot be a shield to justice. As District Attorney, I will work to further expand what information is available to interested parties and to establish a charging decision protocol so that charging decisions are made by a specialized team.

3. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

I am a career prosecutor, not a politician. I am running as an independent candidate because electing the next District Attorney should not be about right and left: It should be about right and wrong. No other candidate comes close to having my wide range of professional experience, which encompasses achievements such as leading a multiagency statewide team in a five-year prosecution of a white supremacist prison gang to establishing problem-solving courts to address issues including drug and alcohol abuse. Finally, no other candidate has spent over two decades nurturing the professional relationships I have with victims, victims’ rights groups, the police department, the sheriff’s department, the criminal defense bar, probation and a host of other community groups so that when I am elected we can immediately begin the work of improving the way we prosecute criminal cases in Denver.


Previously posted on The Docket.