The final district lawyer to move the state’s largest judicial district earlier than it’s break up in two shall be elected this fall by voters in Arapahoe, Douglas, Lincoln and Elbert counties.
18th Judicial District Lawyer candidates Amy Padden, left, and John Kellner
Voters should select between Democrat Amy Padden and Republican John Kellner to switch present 18th Judicial District Lawyer George Brauchler, who’s term-limited.
Colorado lawmakers determined earlier this yr to separate the judicial district, which is probably the most populous within the state. In 2025, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties will grow to be the 23rd Judicial District in Colorado, leaving Arapahoe County alone because the 18th Judicial District. Every could have its personal district lawyer, elected within the fall of 2024.
However for the subsequent 4 years with the 18th Judicial District in a single piece, whoever is elected as district lawyer will oversee 1000’s of legal instances and closely form the area’s method to legal justice.
Each Padden and Kellner mentioned they’d prioritize neighborhood security if elected, however every has a unique method.
Kellner at present serves as chief deputy district lawyer within the 18th Judicial District, the place he has centered on fixing chilly instances and garnered a fame for bringing instances to trial — and successful convictions — even when previous prosecutors handed for a perceived lack of proof.
He served within the Marine Corps, working as a JAG prosecutor, earlier than becoming a member of the Boulder County District Lawyer’s workplace in 2011 after which the 18th Judicial District in 2013.
In an interview with the Denver Submit, Kellner emphasised his trial expertise and mentioned his time as a prosecutor within the courtroom has ready him to guide the workplace, partly as a result of it helped him perceive which punishments are warranted for which instances, to know who ought to go to jail and who shouldn’t.
“It takes expertise to know the place on that spectrum individuals fall, primarily based on their conduct, their historical past, their probability for rehabilitation,” he mentioned. “So sure, I’ll aggressively prosecute critical legal instances, however we aren’t going to incarcerate our approach out of the opioid epidemic and psychological well being points.”
If elected, he’d wish to double the district’s capability in its “problem-solving courts,” that are non-traditional courts aimed primarily at therapy and rehabilitation. These courts now give attention to veterans, individuals affected by dependancy, and people with psychological well being diagnoses who’re going through minor legal expenses.
Padden, who at present serves as a deputy district lawyer within the 11th Judicial District, is a reform-minded prosecutor with expertise on the native, state and federal ranges. Padden touted her managerial expertise in an interview with the Submit and mentioned she would ramp up the district’s diversion program and set up a strong conviction evaluation unit if elected.
Padden beforehand labored as an assistant lawyer common within the Colorado Lawyer Normal’s Workplace, and spent 10 years with the U.S. Division of Justice, rising to grow to be third in command for the District of Colorado. In 2017 she began a run for Colorado lawyer common, however later dropped out of the race and backed rival Phil Weiser.
She mentioned she favors diversion — the place somebody going through low degree legal offenses agrees to take steps geared toward rehabilitation and the legal expenses are dismissed when the individual efficiently completes these steps — over “problem-solving courts” as a result of diversion packages are usually cheaper and may deal with extra individuals.
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“Too usually as prosecutors now we have been punishing the actions after the actual fact reasonably than attending to what precipitated these actions,” she mentioned. “That’s the key to creating our communities safer, as a result of that’s how we are going to finally cut back crime.”
If elected, Padden would set up a conviction evaluation unit with paid staffers tasked with analyzing claims of wrongful convictions within the district, she mentioned, to switch the present volunteer unit.
Each Padden and Kellner declined to touch upon Brauchler’s current and controversial resolution to cost anti-police protesters in Aurora with a bevy of legal expenses for his or her actions in the course of the protests.
The 2 will be part of for a digital debate hosted by CCJRC4Action, an affiliate of the Colorado Prison Justice Reform Coalition, on Oct. 7, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. A hyperlink to the digital debate shall be posted at ccjrc4action.org.