Panty Raid

From JonBenét to Kobe Bryant, Colorado gets hung out to dry.

Today the Ramseys are represented by L. Lin Wood, who has sued Fox News on their behalf (and sent the DNA to the FBI). An Atlanta judge gave that libel suit legs when she bought into the DNA in the panties/intruder theory; the case has since been moved to Colorado. Which is handy, because Wood is now spending plenty of time in this state: He's representing Bryant's accuser in her civil suit against him, filed just last month in Denver.

Up in Eagle County, Wood has not only rubbed up against Haddon, but he's encountered some of the same broadcast folks who are targets of the Ramseys' ire. If Bryant had decided to have knee surgery in Omaha, if JonBenét had been murdered in Peoria -- if whatever did happen in these cases had happened in places without pretty scenery and nearby ski resorts -- would the national media have racked up so many frequent-flier miles to cover them? And would so many local figures have gained second careers as legal pundits? Craig Silverman, Denver's former chief deputy DA, has opined on the Bryant case for numerous national shows, as well as Channel 7, where he noted a few Ramsey connections months ago.

In his January 21 "Craig's Court," on 7's website, Silverman wrote about Shapiro's upcoming book on Bryant and recounted how Shapiro had cozied up to then-Boulder DA Alex Hunter, and "the addled veteran prosecutor became so unhinged by the pressure of the world watching that he sought solace in extensive secret soul-searching meetings with this tabloid junior reporter." That relationship was revealed in Perfect Murder Perfect Town, a book made into a TV movie (in which Silverman got to play himself) that was written by Lawrence Schiller and Charlie Brennan -- the Rocky Mountain News's main reporter on the Ramsey murder who, yes, is now covering the Kobe Bryant case.

For the sake of closure for all Coloradans, lawyers on that case should ask each potential juror one final question: "Do you know who killed JonBenét?"

Spell Bound

Brandon Shaffer, the Democratic candidate in Colorado Senate District 17, was pleasantly surprised when he saw an unexpected television ad touting his campaign. But that was before his wife, a schoolteacher, caught the misspelled word.

And what a word: The ad plugging Shaffer, a graduate of Stanford University whose website promises that he's "100 percent dedicated to quality public education in Colorado," misspells the word "amendment." Adding insult to injury, it does so in a reference to Amendment 23, the constitutional provision guaranteeing a certain level of funding for public education that Shaffer's pledged to preserve.

But when Shaffer tried to have the ad corrected, he got a fast lesson in the unintended consequences of campaign-finance reform. Because of quirks in that law, even groups placing ads in favor of candidates don't have to reveal who's funding them -- not until sixty days before the election. And when Shaffer contacted the Colorado Senate Democratic Campaign Fund, he was told only that "whoever might have put it up has figured out they made a mistake," he says.

When he spotted the ad again this Monday, though, it still read "ammendment."

Even the Colorado Democratic Party says it has no idea who made the buy.

"They're very well-meaning, but I have no editorial control," Shaffer laments. Still, there's a happy ending to this story. "I've been knocking on doors," he says. "The ad's working."

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