Denver Post deserves credit for judges' censuring

Judge Terry Gilmore probably isn't smiling this morning.

An article headlined "Two Judges Censured Over Trial" appears on the front page of today's Denver Post, and that's appropriate for a couple of reasons. First, the decision by the state Supreme Court's regulatory office to censure Terry Gilmore and Jolene Blair, a pair of Larimer County district judges, for ethical misconduct related to a murder charge against Fort Collins' Tim Masters (whose conviction subsequently got tossed) is undeniably newsworthy. Moreover, the pair might have skated were it not for the doggedness of Post reporter Miles Moffeit, who wrote the piece above and many others about the Masters case. Moffeit may not have won the Pulitzer Prize for his efforts, but he's earned deserved praise in many quarters. At a time when newspapers are in decline, his Masters-related reporting presents a strong argument for their continued importance and viability.

Read the press release about the censure of Gilmore and Blair below. -- Michael Roberts

On September 9, 2008 the Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Colorado Supreme Court approved agreements tendered to the court by the Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation and Terrance A. Gilmore and Jolene C. Blair, and publicly censured Gilmore and Blair for misconduct in their roles as prosecutors in the murder trial of Timothy Masters.

Gilmore and Blair admitted to violating the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct. Specifically, they agreed that they breached their duties to the judicial system by failing, as prosecutors, to ensure that several pieces of information obtained and developed by the Fort Collins Police Department during its 12-year investigation of Masters were acquired by the prosecution and then provided to defense counsel. Information that the prosecution did not gather from the police, despite indications that it was available, included opinions of experts who had examined the crime scene evidence, and police reports concerning a 1988 "enhanced surveillance" of Masters that did not produce the results expected by the police, but instead tended to undermine the theory of Masters' guilt.

According to Regulation Counsel for the Supreme Court, John Gleason, the public censure of the lawyers ends an eight month investigation by the office. The office reviewed thousands of pages of court documents and transcripts and interviewed anyone with information relevant to the 1999 prosecution of Mr. Masters. Mr. Gleason is confident that the public censure of the two former prosecutors will underscore the important message to all prosecutors that it is the obligation of the prosecutors, not the police, to ensure that all material obtained by the police in the course of an investigation is provided to the defense as required by the criminal rules.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts