By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
I repeat: top down. Every actor in this glaring exercise of elitist and paternalistic power, including lawyer/judges Barnhill and Nieto, lawyers Stanley and Grant, and lawyer/governor Roy Romer, is a member of the legal priesthood known as the Colorado Bar Association.
What happened to the sacred separation of powers principle? Isn't Romer clearly a member of two branches of government at the same time? Look at your Colorado senators and Colorado representatives. Count the Bar-member lawyers. Now, ask yourself why lawyers have so much power and suck not only your money but your Enlightenment heritage and your very blood.
So, Gilpin County District Judge Henry Nieto has finally issued a ruling in the Laura Kriho contempt of court case Karen Bowers wrote about in "Beyond Contempt." It's too bad that after four months, he still hasn't had enough time to get it right.
Laura Kriho is guilty of nothing more than being a conscientious citizen willing to do her duty by serving on a jury. For this she is now facing six months in jail and thousands of dollars in fines.
If Nieto and his cronies think this action will accomplish their obvious goal of making jurors into unthinking robots who will meekly rubber-stamp unjust convictions, they are very much mistaken. Patriotic citizens like Laura Kriho will continue to bring their consciences and their brains into court and into the jury room, but they will do so more carefully.
And this ruling will be challenged. Those of us who have contributed to Ms. Kriho's defense fund in the past will dig into our pockets and contribute again. Others will surely join us. Our nation is far too precious to be flushed down the toilet by judges and prosecutors who are determined to ride roughshod over the right of people to obtain justice.
John A. deLaubenfels
Who's really guilty of contempt here? The juror who didn't have the heart to send a nineteen-year-old girl to prison for five years for having drugs, or the judge and Gilpin County prosecutor who want to set a legal precedent that would make Thomas Jefferson roll one in his grave?
Maybe Kriho's conscience told her to take the law into her own hands, just as the voters of California did with Proposition 215. That's zero tolerance for unjust laws.
The trial of Laura Kriho for contempt of court in Gilpin County ended on October 2, and she was told to wait for a verdict. According to Colorado state statute 13-5-135, former prosecutor and now Chief Judge Henry Nieto of the First Judicial District, who heard the case, had ninety days to render a judgment. By my calculations, Judge Nieto was late. According to Colorado state statute 13-5-136, if a judge doesn't render a decision within ninety days, he forfeits his salary for that quarter. In this case, that is approximately $20,000.
Who will dare enforce these statutes?
U.S. Representative Newt Gingrich was not charged with lying, even though it is clear that he conspired to hide the truth about illegal campaign contributions until after his reappointment to a leadership position. Contrast this special treatment with the Laura Kriho incident.
Could it be that the noble title of U.S. representative provides immunity from laws that prohibit making false statements? Newt's peers--his fellow congressmen--decided that he must pay back the expense of the investigation that proved him a liar but gave him no jail time. Laura wasn't so lucky. She wasn't allowed a jury of her peers to decide if she should be punished for untruthfulness.
Chief Judge Henry Nieto decided he is better qualified to judge Laura's character than twelve of her peers. What's best for all resident subjects (including Laura) is clear to Judge Nieto. Gilpin County subjects of the realm must comply with laws made by the likes of Newt's peers, a noble assembly of legislators.
The message is clear! Be a compliant juror! Don't question authority or stray from a judge's instructions if you are called to judge your peers! Voting your conscience may be construed as showing contempt of court. Recalcitrant jurors must be punished!
How long, oh Lord, before the loyal subjects of Gilpin County realize that this democratic society allows them to recall tyrannical scoundrels such as the Honorable Chief Judge Henry Nieto? When all the druggies and their sympathizers are eliminated, will Gilpin County subjects then be concerned with jurors' rights? I'm afraid they'll need a replica of the Tower of London before that happens.
Editor's note: On February 10, Judge Henry Nieto found Laura Kriho in contempt of court. In his ruling, Nieto said Kriho had obstructed justice by not revealing during jury selection her own conviction on drug charges and her active opposition to drug laws. Meanwhile, Titus Peterson's case is proceeding, with a hearing set for February 21 in Gilpin County on a motion requesting a special prosecutor. A photograph of Peterson's former boss, who was quoted in Bowers's story as supporting Peterson, ran on the contents page of that issue; however, Summit County District Attorney Pete Michaelson was definitely not the prosecutor referred to in the "Beyond Contempt" headline. Our apologies for any confusion.