War of the Words

Jeffco happens to be the county where law enforcement officials encouraged the Aronson family to tape conversations of their Evergreen neighbors, the Quigleys--conversations that occurred not during calls to the Aronsons, but in calls to others that the Aronsons picked up with a scanner. The Jeffco District Attorney's office then used transcripts of these calls, conveniently provided by the Aronsons, to file a dozen ethnic-intimidation charges against the Quigleys and another neighbor in December 1994.

Six weeks later, after his office reviewed the tapes more closely, Jeffco DA Dave Thomas dropped all but one of the charges--and that one involved an incident with a car, not a car phone. The following December, he apologized publicly to the Quigleys and agreed to pay them a $75,000 settlement for their troubles.

The DA's office must not have learned much from that costly fiasco, judging from how it handled Roszel. Had Thomas listened carefully to the tape, he would never have filed charges--much less let his prosecutors introduce the call into evidence at a preliminary hearing in July. At that hearing, Kasteile categorized the mother-daughter chat as "normal conversation."

On what planet?
After that, Thomas soon dropped the charges, citing "legal uncertainty" regarding the right of a custodial parent to tape a minor child's call. But couldn't that "uncertainty" have been cleared up before Roszel was charged with a felony?

Roszel's attorney, Craig Silverman, has asked Thomas to apologize, just as he apologized to the Quigleys, but Roszel isn't holding his breath--or his tongue. "For ten years I've been trying to tell people what's been going on in my family," he says. "I took the tape in. I made this public. I wanted someone to listen to me.

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