Update, 12:17 p.m.: State senatorial candidate Joel Judd has responded to questions about a Pride Fest incident this weekend, when he allegedly jabbed marijuana advocate Robert Chase in the chest -- prompting Chase to file a criminal complaint about him. The new details are available after the original item, on view below, published at 12:10 p.m. June 22:
At Pride Fest this weekend, marijuana advocate Robert Chase says he used a megaphone to address state senatorial candidate Joel Judd -- and he alleges that Judd responded by poking him in the chest. He's filed a criminal complaint about the incident.
Judd's response? Dunno -- because he hung up on me when I tried to ask.
Chase definitely believes in expressing his pro-cannabis views in loud public ways. Back in March, he led a protest demanding the resignation of Denver City Council members because their recently passed regulations would likely lead to the closure of half the city's dispensaries.
In the end, only 235 of an estimated 500 dispensaries wound up applying for licenses under the city's rules.
For Pride Fest, Chase distributed fliers with a positive message. They declared, "This Pride Fest, Don't Hurt Yourself with Alcohol. Come Out for Cannabis!" and "Legalize Colorado 2012!" He also hoped to heckle Mayor John Hickenlooper -- a plan that went awry when he didn't actually encounter him. But he did see Judd, a District 5 representative who's currently running for senate in District 34. And Chase isn't a fan.
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He recalls speaking with Judd on the phone a year or two ago and exchanging some e-mails in civil fashion. But during the legislature's debate about medical marijuana bills this year, "he completely blew me off," Chase maintains. Then, when HD 1284, the main regulatory measure, reached the judiciary committee, he encountered the representative in front of the Capitol.
"I hailed him and said, 'Representative Judd, you haven't returned any of my phone calls or e-mails about these bills,'" Chase recalls. "And he said, 'Well, you're meeting with me now.' So I got right to the point and said, 'I hope we can count on your opposition to these two bills.' And he said, word for word, 'We are going to regulate medical marijuana. Do you understand?' I didn't know what to say, so he said it again, just like that."
In response, Chase continues, "I sent him an e-mail saying I thought he was incredibly rude and that I would be campaigning for one of his opponents, Lucía Guzmán, who seems like a sensible person -- and she wants to legalize cannabis."
Cut to Sunday, when Chase says, "I saw Joel Judd just east of Corona and Colfax, and I called out to the crowd that he doesn't communicate with constituents. Now, that may have been somewhat unfair. Maybe it's only me that he treats with such contempt. But he came up to me and said, 'Why are you saying that?,' and put his fingers into my chest rather forcibly."
This action didn't injure Chase. Still, "it's illegal to touch someone in an unwanted way, and he did it in front of hundreds of people. He knew damn well I didn't want to be touched, let alone poked." As a result, "I filed a criminal complaint against him" early Monday afternoon.
In an attempt to get Judd's take on this development, I phoned the number on his campaign website, and he answered personally, and personably. But when I explained that I'd just spoken to Chase, he interrupted with the phrase, "Well, see if you can find somebody to talk to you about it," and hung up.
I subsequently sent an e-mail to Judd through the website explaining Chase's claims in detail. At this writing, he hasn't responded. If he does, this post will be updated.
In the meantime, Chase says, "I hope that justice is done. And justice will be Representative Judd getting convicted of a misdemeanor offense of minor assault.
"I'm sure this would be characterized as the least serious form of assault, but I'm standing on the letter of the law. You don't come up to people you disagree with and poke them in the chest -- not if you're Joe Schmo on the street, much less if you're a state representative trying to be a state senator."
Update, 12:17 p.m.: As noted above, I sent an e-mail through Joel Judd's campaign website after he hung up on me. Here it is:
My name is Michael Roberts, and I'm a reporter with Westword newspaper in Denver. I just spoke briefly with Joel Judd on the phone, but he hung up on me before I could give him details about my inquiry. So I'm sharing my questions here, in the hope that he'll get back to me. I was contacted by a man named Robert Chase, who said that at Pride Fest yesterday, Judd jabbed him in the chest when he asserted, through a megaphone, that the representative doesn't communicate with his constituents. Chase added that he's filed a police report naming Judd. Is this an accurate description of what took place? If not, how would Mr. Judd describe it? If Mr. Judd or someone from his campaign could get back to me as soon as possible, I'd appreciate it. I can be reached at Michael.Roberts@westword.com. Thanks for your time.
Just past 11 a.m. this morning, I received the following e-mail response from Judd:
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Dear Mr. Roberts,
Thank you for your note. I'm told Mr. Chase is unhappy that I support marijuana dispensary regulation. His complaints to you or anyone else won't change my position.
I immediately followed up by asking via e-mail if Judd could comment on the filing of a criminal complaint over the incident -- whether it was justified, or if he viewed it as something akin to harassment. Thus far, Judd hasn't answered back. If he does, this post will be updated again.
Update, 2:34 p.m.: Joel Judd has just sent a response to my second e-mail. He writes:
I understand the DA declined the complaint. Presumably Mr. Chase felt the complaint justified. I've no reason to comment on his feelings.
I apologize for being abrupt. My ballots drop July 19. Until then I'm focused on contacting my voters.