Shawn Mitchell: Lawmaker admits inability to focus and personal "demons" affecting his work

In an unusual court filing, state senator and prominent GOP campaigner Shawn Mitchell states that his battle with anxiety and depression has made it difficult to get work done in his law practice and political life, leading to blown deadlines and missed hearings and campaign events. The affidavit, filed in a Denver District Court civil case, informs the judge that Mitchell failed to provide adequate legal representation for a client "through a blend of bad judgment, poor performance, and incapacity" and he's now seeking professional help.

The Broomfield lawmaker has seven children and, in addition to being an attorney, is also a part-time college teacher. "The juggling act that I used to be able to maintain now eludes me," he wrote in the affidavit.

While he's still meeting many of his obligations, he adds, he's had difficulty managing his schedule and focusing on and completing certain tasks: "I pass frantically but idly through windows of opportunity, accomplishing little or nothing. This includes not infrequent fruitless all-nighters, often yielding little or nothing to show for the time at the end of long hours staring at a desk and computer."

Mitchell acknowledges missing a status conference before a federal judge, "numerous legislative and political meetings," and a fundraising event for his close friend Ken Buck, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, even though he describes himself as Buck's "preferred surrogate speaker."

In other court documents, Mitchell indicates that he may eventually curtail his law practice in favor of teaching and that he "failed" his client in the case at hand "because of demons he has taken first steps to grapple with."

Asked for comment on the affidavit, Mitchell responded, "I'm working with a counselor to get my planning and scheduling under control. It's a challenge to be juggling three full-time jobs. I would be grateful if people could understand that even public officials have some zone of private struggle. I don't have any further comment."

To read the complete Shawn Mitchell affidavit, read below.

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast