Category Archives: Justice System

Nederland Drug Abuse Tragedy

July 13, 2013

My heart aches for both families. My brain can not fathom how a parent survives either circumstance. Wisdom is hard to come by when faced by such a tragedy.

Young adults are fearless when it comes to risky behaviors. They seem drawn to them like moths towards a flame. Although our educational system tries to help with life skills programs ranging from “Just Say No” to recommendations for responsible use, clearly, neither parents nor schools can meet this perennial challenge alone. Society, generally, and our community, specifically, have roles to play, too (it truly “takes a village”), but ultimately our children, when temptation knocks, will be alone and under great pressure to go along.
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Municipal Code Drafting and Interpretation

March 22, 2013

Tussles between private land owners and government representatives fueled the revolution that formed the United States. Boulder County, the City of Boulder, and some Homeowner Associations stir similarly visceral passions when private dreams are thwarted by thoughtless application of burdensome and costly rules and regulations.
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Alcohol Rules v. Education and Peer Pressure

August 25, 2012

Alcohol is a social lubricant. It also kills indiscriminately. The way young people “learn” how to drink could not be more poorly designed. High schoolers learn from their college peers, who are old enough to acquire alcohol. Collegians develop drinking patterns at private parties, where ids are not checked and the alcohol is often more powerful and usually free. The patterns they establish in college carry forward into their adult years. The U.S. has a drinking problem because most people learn to drink without adult supervision in environments where there are no rules (or even good modeling behavior).
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Aurora Theater Slaughter by Holmes

July 28, 2012

6,000 rounds of ammunition. 2 Glock handguns. 1 pump-action shotgun. An AR-15 (M-16) with a 100-round drum capable of firing 50-60 rounds per minute. All acquired within the past two months. Is there no division at Homeland Security in a position to connect these dots?
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Guns on CU’s Campus

March 10, 2012

In the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I, with 5 other people, were held hostage for two very frightening hours in 1981 by a man holding a snub-nosed .38 and wearing a silk stocking over his head. From my perspective at the time, the odds of disarming the guy were not good (about ½-inch of the barrel extended beyond the palm of his hand). We made no foolish mistakes and all of us survived unharmed, but I hate guns, particularly hand guns.
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Safe Streets Begin Between Your Ears

February 11, 2012

“The last time I should speed is when I’m in a hurry.” “While waiting to make a left turn, it’s not what I see, but what I don’t see that could kill me (look for blind spots, not semi-trailer trucks).” “If I’m on a bicycle, I’m invisible, but if a driver sees me, he may try to kill me (eye contact does not equal awareness).” “If I ride a bike at night without a light, I’m an idiot.” At one time or another, but more frequently towards the end of my career as a prosecutor in Boulder’s municipal court, I often suggested to drivers and bicyclists that the above thoughts just might save their lives some day.
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Municipal Court Jury Trials

January 21, 2012

For the vast majority of Boulder’s citizens, the only encounters they are likely to have with the criminal justice system occur in Municipal Court. Justice should be served every day to everyone who appears, without exception. In the words of Alexander Hamilton, “The ordinary administration of criminal and civil justice . . . contributes more than any other circumstance to impressing upon the minds of the people affection, esteem, and reverence towards the government.” The Federalist Papers (No. 17) (1787), at 120.
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Travis Masse – Sexual Predator

July 28, 2011

I don’t know Travis Masse or any of his victims. My knowledge of the case is based on what I read in the paper – a source of information wholly inadequate to the task of peering into another person’s soul, so I won’t try. I hope all those involved find peace and healing eventually, but I fear the scars will never fade away completely. Mr. Masse’s consequences are self-inflicted. He must own them. The harm he caused his innocent victims earned a harsh punishment. Society has wisely determined that such conduct is reprehensible, and a jury of his peers determined that Mr. Masse did it. Case closed.
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Seth Brigham, Redux

Seth Brigham, Redux
September 25, 2010

‘Tis a challenge to find 250 more words to write on this arguably unworthy subject. Isn’t all the attention going to encourage or enable similar behavior? Not to mention the cold, hard cash. Do we really want Council’s public comment period to become the City of Boulder’s “Gong Show” (apologies to Chuck Barris)?

The premature “hook” of Mr. Brigham is apparently going to cost “us” $10,000. What would have been “price-less” is waiting a few additional seconds to see whether Seth might remove his skivvies, thus committing an actual code violation; or, his three minutes having been exhausted, whether Seth would be content to simply leave the stage wearing fewer clothes than when he started.

Let’s be honest. Boulder’s citizenry are a creative lot. Anticipating every behavior that might be conjured up by one of our own is well nigh impossible at a public hearing, where passions have occasionally been known to run hot. Thus, patience is proved yet again to be a virtue. Instead of, “Go directly to Jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200” (apologies to Parker Brothers), we pay $10Gs. We ought to be able endure for three minutes or less almost any combination of words and actions. We do it on the Downtown Mall all the time, don’t we?

There are victims of city mistakes who are far more deserving, but the City has told them, “times are tough; we’re sorry, but we just don’t have the money.” This case settlement would suggest otherwise.

In Boulder, What’s The ACLU To Do?

August 7, 2010

It must be difficult for Boulder’s local chapter of the ACLU to find public policies to challenge. On the political correctness scale, Boulder has to be off the charts. What’s a local chapter to do? How do you keep your members engaged and fulfilled?

Picking on the Boy Scouts in some parts of the country is probably fair game, but I’ve seen no indication that Boulder’s local troops deserve to take a hit, just because the national organization’s prejudices are out of step with the times. We too often take for granted the potential public schools have to serve as community gathering places. In some of our residential subdivisions, there is literally nowhere else people can get together without jumping in their cars. Schools are paid for with everyone’s taxes and they should be open to all. The local ACLU should focus their slings and arrows on legitimate local targets. Had they been Boy Scouts (disclosure, I was one), they’d have learned this.

With mandatory sentences putting too many of the wrong people behind bars, some nuance in the deprivation of prisoner freedoms is warranted. Sheriff Joe Pelle gets that. Prisoners are allowed to communicate with their legal representatives in sealed envelopes, but we don’t want predators chumming for future child victims, or felons intimidating witnesses using sealed envelopes sent from behind our prison walls. A pre-approved list of family and friends could also be created for each prisoner, but I’d leave that to Sheriff Pelle’s soundly exercised discretion.