Judge to DA Carol Chambers: Get cracking

Julie Stene has waited nine years for her day in court, and Arapahoe County District Judge Carlos Samour Jr. figures that's long enough. Denying a reluctant district attorney's effort to further delay filing charges in a 2000 rape investigation that the DA's office repeatedly refused to pursue, Judge Samour instructed Carol Chambers to appoint a special prosecutor in the case today.

Like, now.

The decision is another setback for Chambers, who is appealing Samour's ruling that there's ample evidence Stene was sexually assaulted after a high school graduation party by two men. Stene had passed out after drinking at the party, could recall few details and was initially reluctant to pursue the case; one of the suspects went on to play football at the University of Colorado and was implicated in the sex-assault allegations that erupted on campus in 2002. When Stene did press for charges, an assistant district attorney tried to discourage her, saying the office didn't want to look like it was "jumping on the bandwagon" of rape allegations in Boulder.

Given DNA evidence and other factors in the case, Samour ruled that Chambers' continuing refusal to prosecute is arbitrary and unreasonable. That led to the unusual order to force prosecution and the even more unusual appeal by Chambers, which could have delayed Stene's case by another year or more. But then, this isn't the only clash between Chambers and the judiciary; for more on her ongoing disagreements with a variety of rulings against her office, see my previous blog, "If DA Carol Chambers is Right, Everybody Else is Wrong."

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