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Letters

Dis Honor
Alan Prendergast's October 24 article, "Motion to Dismiss," made reference to the divorce action involving a local attorney whose estranged wife was dying of cancer. I performed a great deal of the research for the respondent in that case. Never in all the courtrooms where I have assisted has my sense of fairness been so offended. Judge Hufnagel's viciously disdainful, derogatory and continuing statements to and regarding the respondent, as well as other blatantly prejudicial behavior with regard to our team, stunned me. I have been in the courtrooms of numerous judges who can be harsh or are considered so; never have I seen behavior that came close to that of Judge Hufnagel. Her lack of impartiality, her refusal to recognize strong legal precedent in the treatment of that case, and her rudeness and disrespect of the dignity of the court continue to offend my sense of trust in the court system.

There is no room for her kind of "justice" in our system, and it would give me great satisfaction to vote against retaining her this November.

Daniel Disner
Lakewood

Say what you will about Judge Hufnagel's attitude and/or demeanor, she is still one of the best damned judges in this state.

The whining and bitching displayed by those who claim to be victimized by her is no more than their attempt to justify their own inadequacies. I have experienced Judge Hugnagel's court as a defendant. I was facing more than a few very serious charges. Because Judge Hufnagel not only knows the law but also possesses a sense of compassion and understanding that people make mistakes and bad choices but are capable of overcoming all of that, she gave me a chance to make something of myself. I was facing many years in prison when I walked into her courtroom, but because of her compassion, I am now a productive member of society and am doing my best to give back what she gave me. Had she been the cold, heartless person you and those you interviewed make her out to be, I would be just another statistic.

Next time you decide to do on expose on someone like the Honorable Lynne Hufnagel, why don't you find some people who will paint a more objective picture of her instead of this one-sided bashing? I personally experienced the wrath of Her Honor and the humiliation of her asking me pointed questions about my crimes. I am thankful that she did this. It was a step in a long process of waking up and taking responsibility for my actions, choices and decisions.

Judge Hufnagel is tough. She does not have patience for those who come to her unprepared. She is very demanding. But she is also fair and compassionate and does her job with integrity and pride. Who can fault her for that? She is, after all, a judge.

James A. Sweet
via the Internet

Until Judge Hufnagel and attorney Mathis got their considerable talons into Yellow Cab, we drivers labored under the illusion that there is some measure of freedom and judicial responsibility in America. As good as Prendergast is, and as bad as Yellow Cab was, no writer could describe the duress, arrogance and greed foisted upon us during our Hufnagel/Mathis era.

Those who did not vote with their feet then--and the rest of you--should now cast ballots. Spread the word: We need impartial judges, not imperial ones.

Gene Edwards
Lakewood

The Colorado Hispanic Bar Association strongly supports the retention of Judge Hufnagel. As a practicing attorney, I have had the pleasure of appearing before Judge Hufnagel on numerous occasions and have tried a number of serious cases before her, including a homicide case. Through such experience, it has become clear that Judge Hufnagel is an excellent jurist who has a vast knowledge of the law and an uncanny ability to apply common sense. It has also been my experience and that of my CHBA colleagues that Judge Hufnagel is fair and even-handed in her rulings and treats all litigants with respect.

Perhaps one of Judge Hufnagel's finest qualities is her willingness to volunteer her time to assist young attorneys to develop and improve the skills they need to effectively advocate their client's cause. I first met Judge Hufnagel several years ago when she served as a volunteer instructor in a CHBA program that provided young Hispanic attorneys training in effective advocacy skills. During this program, Judge Hufnagel impressed upon participants the gravity of our work as attorneys and how, through our work, we can positively impact the lives of others on a daily basis. Given the degree of importance that she attributes to the law and the legal process, it is no surprise that Judge Hufnagel demands excellence from the attorneys who appear before her.

 

Frank Lopez, president
Colorado Hispanic Bar Association

Virtually speaking, Alan Prendergast is the top cat, the alpha wolf of alternative journalism. Let's just hope he doesn't wind up in the court of Judge Hufnagel or one of her judicial pals.

Larry Budd
via the Internet

Strike While the Flatiron's Hot
I fear the Flatiron fiasco described in Alan Prendergast's excellent September 19 article, "Shut Up and Deal," is just the tip of the iceberg. If the current CU Board of Regents can so foolishly waste public funds in this matter, they are probably making equally bad decisions in other areas.

I became interested in the CU regent race as a result of the regents' recent decision to purchase the mined-out Flatiron gravel pit in Boulder County for $16.4 million. This was done in spite of the fact that a recent appraisal performed by a certified appraiser stated that the property is worth a maximum of $9.2 million.

The property is located in the geologic drainage of South Boulder Creek, which is capable of producing very large floods. Millions and millions of tons of sand and gravel have been removed from the site during the gravel operations, and the property has significant floodplain, groundwater and wetland problems. Furthermore, two-thirds of the property is designated as open space. These factors make the parcel a very inappropriate site for purchase by the university, and something is very wrong.

The board is chaired by Robert Sievers, who is up for re-election. As chairman, Sievers has been a leader in the purchase of the Flatiron property. Sievers's opponent, Gordon Johnson, is opposed to the purchase and has clearly stated his intent to end the regents' back-room dealings and make the board more responsive to citizen concerns.

Ben Binder
Boulder

Nice Guys Finish...
Regarding Andy Van De Voorde's "Trial by Ire," in the October 17 issue:
I have worked in the Denver DA's office since 1983. I have had the pleasure of working with and for both Craig Silverman and Bill Ritter. Both are good men. Craig was my direct supervisor for over six years. Bill is still my boss. Contrary to your portrayal of Craig, he is a nice, funny and hardworking man who had excellent relations with the people that he supervised. Craig is a skilled and intense prosecutor in court, but he is a sweetheart to work for back at the office. People at the DA's office all looked forward to an assignment to Craig's courtroom because of Craig's willingness to teach, his professionalism and his easygoing temperament.

Westword went looking hard for detractors of Craig (and of Bill) and found critical people. Of course, if you told the truth that both Craig and Bill are nice guys, you would not have had much of a story.

Carla Mondragon
Wheat Ridge

Andy Van De Voorde's story was the first article that gave me any real feeling for the DA's race. Although I know that some people think we should get tougher on crime, I worry about what will happen when all the people we lock up get out many years from now, even angrier than they are already and with no skills to help them create a life on the outside.

I appreciate Bill Ritter's approach. Projects such as Denver's Drug Court are a good way to give people a second chance. Throwing them in jail--and then building more jails to hold more and more prisoners--is no solution! We need to help people learn how to help themselves.

Jan Parks
Denver

"Trial by Ire" really missed the point. Both Silverman and Ritter are intelligent, likable people who both want what's best for Denver and its DA's office. Guess what? Ritter wants the spotlight as much as Silverman or any person running for public office. We all saw Ritter crowd into a leading role as the press covered the conclusion of the Hollar trial, which Silverman won. Ritter rarely misses a chance to get into a press conference or photo op at various staged society and political happenings. Silverman's publicity has largely come from his effective and entertaining advocacy in major criminal trials.

The serious question facing Denver voters is whether they want a DA who is willing to follow the law even when a judge/politician does not like it. If the answer is yes, then that man is Craig Silverman.

Bernard Zaler
Denver

I work at the DA's office and so have had ample opportunity to watch both Ritter and Silverman at work. Ritter is a good manager and keeps the office running smoothly. I cannot imagine what this place would be like if Silverman were DA! (But just in case he is elected, I must ask that my name not be published.) He was hard enough to work with as chief deputy; there's no reason to think it would be any better if he were the boss. He seems incapable of keeping his ego under control or giving anyone else credit.

 

That might work in a courtroom, but it doesn't work in an office.
Name withheld on request

I proudly support Craig Silverman for district attorney, but I must ask that my name be withheld, because I work at the DA's office and I fear repercussions from the Ritter administration.

Craig has my respect, both as a prosecutor and as a co-worker. You bet he demands a lot from his team, and he is most demanding of himself. Craig may never win a Mr. Congeniality contest, but he's a fair, intelligent and hardworking manager. He goes to the mat for what he believes in: justice. Crime victims and their families adore Craig, and for good reason. He is truly the victim's advocate.

I read with great surprise that Ritter makes personal relationships with staffers a priority. Since when? Which staffers? That is just not true! Bill surrounds himself with his little clique of white men over forty and his assistant, Bonnie Wright Benedetti. The truth is, Bill doesn't have time for, or interest in, 90 percent of his staff. That fact was brought to his attention by an outside consulting firm that interviewed the entire staff two years ago. Bill Ritter totally ignored these findings. He remains unaware and unavailable to anyone outside his inner circle.

Name withheld on request

Peak Performance
In all fairness, I need to salute Michael Roberts, who reached the pinnacle of his career with his October 17 story on Miles Davis and Gil Evans. I never liked his reviews or taste before and even called him a "dickhead" in a letter last year that Westword printed, unedited, to my surprise.

"The Odd Couple" is brilliant writing and insight, and Roberts is at his best when he writes "While Davis was in some ways as analytical as Evans, he never shied away from spontaneity--a tool that the tightly structured, heavily arranged backdrops Evans constructed prevented him from using as he otherwise might have." Roberts goes on to note that Miles's "chafing at the restrictions" produced some of the most interesting music to be heard. This tells you the reason Miles reinvented jazz four times. He simply had the best taste in the history of music. Of course he was a brilliant musician, but he had the good taste to explore all his sides, as well as his projects, with other artists, such as Gil Evans.

J. Intravia
Littleton

Pop Goes the Weasel
On September 12, Westword ran Steve Jackson's "Athlete, Artist, Indian Chief" article on Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, in which the senator discusses our disagreements over environmental policies. In the article, Senator Campbell refers to me as a "weasel" who lives in a dream world. While many readers may have recoiled from the personal quality of Senator Campbell's remarks, this is somewhat of an improvement over the senator's prior attacks in newspapers in which he referred to me as a "coward," "a mouse," and "a rodent defecating on [his] floor at night."

I am concerned less by the personal attacks than by Senator Campbell's statement that he came to the campus to debate his environmental record "but [Professor Turley] barricaded himself in his office." As the senator was informed before he conducted his rally with young Republicans, I was in Denver on the day in question, meeting with the Rocky Flats grand jurors. While the image of me cringing in my office in fear of Senator Campbell may present a satisfying image for the senator, I was completely unaware of his demonstration until my staff called me in Colorado.

Nevertheless, Senator Campbell insists that he is eager to debate his environmental record. So be it. I will debate the senator at his earliest convenience. There is clearly much to talk about.

I doubt, however, that Senator Campbell is truly interested in debating the facts of his record. The wonderful thing about a record, however, is that it speaks for itself. In the last year alone, Senator Campbell's legislative actions included efforts to limit the Safe Drinking Water Act; to block legislation requiring that communities be informed of toxic or hazardous spills; to freeze the Endangered Species Act; to kill funding to protect wolves; to sell millions of acres of public forests to lower the deficit; to open up areas for timber salvage; to protect restrictions on grazing rights on public lands; and to develop protected areas.

 

Let it not be said that environmentalists opposing his policies, according to Senator Campbell, live "in a damn dream world." The damage caused by Senator Campbell's pro-development record are all too real and apparent in Colorado and other states. If we are living in a "dream world," then Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell is certainly our common nightmare.

Jonathan Turley, director
Environmental Law Advocacy Center
Washington, D.C.

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