Letters to the Editor

The Invisible Man

Trace evidence: I really enjoyed Eric Dexheimer's "Without a Trace," in the November 14 issue. As I feel the pressures of the holiday season building, I think I can understand why someone like Terry Johnson might want to disappear. I wouldn't run away myself, but I think I can understand.

I know it can't be very comforting to his family and loved ones to think that he might have run away, but it has to be better than thinking he's dead.

Jared Parker
via the Internet

You must remember this: I just read Eric Dexheimer's "Without a Trace." Has anyone considered the possibility that Terry entered what is known as a "fugue" state? This is a mental condition in which the "victim" suddenly becomes amnesic. It is like waking up in a strange place, not knowing your name, age, family, anything. Think the new series John Doe -- without the savant aspect.

Granted, you would think that they would just look at their license plate (if they remember they have a car) or their driver's license. But who's to say what one would do in that circumstance? Just a thought. (P.S.: Sorry, but I haven't seen him.)

Renee Walters
via the Internet

Justice on Trial

The great pretenders: What happened to Naim Amini is a tragic example of why public defenders should be renamed "public pretenders." They are a guaranteed conviction to anyone unable to afford private counsel. I am just happy to see that your paper chose to expose this gross miscarriage of justice. It's a public injustice!

One thing should be clear to anyone who reads David Holthouse's "Trials and Tribulations," in the November 21 issue: At trial, our public defenders are completely incapable of going the distance to acquittal. Their standard practice is to first waive the defendant's preliminary hearing and right to trial, and then convince the defendant to take a plea bargain. Regardless of guilt, innocence or outrageous constitutional violations (crimes in and of themselves), the public pretenders system compromises each and every defendant's right to a fair trial. Each assistant DA knows all too well that he or she can defeat any public defender at trial, because most have absolutely no trial experience, having copped pleas in every case on their docket.

It was Mr. Cole's job to ensure that his client had a translator fluent in both English and Dari. It was his job to cross-examine the victim as to the inconsistencies between her statements to police and trial testimony. It was his job to present some defense, including calling witnesses and properly conferring with and advising his client on whether or not to testify on his own behalf.

Mr. Cole's representation was a gross violation of Naim Amini's Sixth Amendment right to counsel. It was also the standard representation offered by the public defender's office. If one area in government is in vital need of reform, it is the sham and public embarrassment of justice known as the "public pretenders" system.

David Noland

Open to interpretation: With no public understanding of the profession and no existing regulations, even the best court interpreter is left open to defamation.

Isabelle Houlbreque
Court Interpreter/Coordinator
Denver County Court

Fair warning: In the November 28 issue, Janice Hampton writes that "it won't be too long before all of us...are denied our right to a fair trial."

She obviously has not dealt with the courts and legal community much, or she would know that "before too long" is already here, and has been for quite a while. "Rights" are an illusion.

Randy Stadt
via the Internet

Slop talk: Excellent work on the Amini article: David Holthouse did our community a great service by exposing the matter to public scrutiny. Westword has consistently impressed me with the quality of its journalism -- a rare and greatly appreciated island of competence in a sea of otherwise ideological slop.

Robert Teesdale
via the Internet

Blind justice: How do we help this man and his family? This story about the Aminis tears my heart out. Justice has closed her eyes -- how do we prevent her death altogether in this instance?

Kathy Robinson

David Holthouse replies: Naim Amini's fate now lies in the hands of Colorado Court of Appeals judges Dennis Graham, Jose Marquez and Charles Pierce, who heard oral arguments in Amini's appeal and questioned attorneys for both sides during a half-hour hearing on December 3. After the hearing, Paul Grant, Amini's lawyer, said he expected the appellate judges to issue their ruling sometime over the next two to six months, a standard time span. If Amini loses this first appeal, Grant added, he'll take the case to the Colorado Supreme Court and then, if necessary, into the federal court system.