Update: Broncos Heir John Bowlen's Domestic-Violence Case Appeal Sacked

Update: A few months back, we told you about the quizzical decision by John Bowlen, son of Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, to appeal his wrist-slap of a conviction in a domestic-violence harassment incident last year based on a technicality; see our previous coverage below.

That appeal has now been rejected by Arapahoe County District Court Judge John Wheeler in a document shared here.

As a result, the only avenue left open for Bowlen would be to take the matter to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Elsewhere in this post, we share the police account of the goings-on at 4550 Cherry Creek Drive South circa June 2015 — a strange series of events that allegedly involved drinking, inhaling whippets, a declaration by Bowlen that he'd killed somebody, his assertion on a 911 call that he owns the Broncos (he doesn't — yet), and a reference to himself as "the blood of the city."

Likewise, we describe the basis for Bowlen's appeal, which turns on a claim that the officer who wrote up his summons didn't include the parenthetical subsection of the criminal-harassment statute for which he was cited, along with telecommunications crime. (He allegedly caused his then-girlfriend to drop her phone after shoving her into a wall.)

To put it mildly, Judge Wheeler wasn't persuaded by this argument — and even used underlines to emphasize his points, as seen in this excerpt: "This Court will not overturn the decision of the trial court below where the amendment of Charge No. 1 — Harassment was based only on the form of the charge, and the defendant was provided with ample notice of the additional allegations...and was not prejudiced in preparation for or during trial."

Bowlen's initial appeal, despite being sentenced to just 24 months' probation (plus domestic-violence treatment and drug, alcohol and mental-health evaluations), led to speculation that he feared the conviction would cause problems if he someday gets the chance to assume full ownership of the Broncos; his father is suffering from Alzheimer's. But plenty of other NFL owners have gotten in trouble with the law in the past. A New York Daily News roundup mentions Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay's six-game suspension as a result of his guilty plea following a drunk-driving and drug-possession arrest; an allegation that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had sexually assaulted a former stripper (a lawsuit in the matter was dismissed); and a $92 million fine paid by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and his brother, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam, for supposed improprieties at Pilot Flying J, a national truck-stop company that's also in their portfolio.

Still, the NFL has had an embarrassing run of domestic-violence-related public-relations disasters, the latest of which was the mishandling of a case involving former New York Giants kicker Josh Brown, who admitted to being physically abusive to his wife on multiple occasions.

As such, John Bowlen may have legitimate reasons for appealing the case to the state Supreme Court beyond embarrassment and wounded pride. But the odds of the court taking the case, let alone ruling in his favor, seem smaller than the chance that the Broncos will repeat as Super Bowl champions for the next five consecutive years.

Thus far, neither Bowlen nor the Broncos have commented on the appeal's defeat. Here's the judge's latest order, followed by our earlier reports.

John Bowlen Appeal Decision

Update, 6:58 a.m. September 1: John Bowlen can't leave well enough alone.

In April, Bowlen, the son of Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen (and possible future owner of the team), was found guilty in a strange June 2015 domestic-violence incident that involved alcohol, whippets and a 911 call during which he declared himself to be the "blood of the city"; see our previous coverage below.

Now, Bowlen is appealing based on a technicality involving the alleged absence of a statute number on his citation.

The sentence Bowlen received — 24 months' probation, plus domestic-violence treatment and evaluations for drugs, alcohol and mental health — hardly represents draconian punishment. Yet Bowlen has unleashed the law firm of Harvey Steinberg, the attorney of choice for generations of Broncos in trouble, to tackle his misdemeanor conviction one more time.

The twelve-page opening brief shared here restates a theory the jury didn't buy — that his then-girlfriend "made up the allegations against the defendant because he was breaking up with her, and she knew that the allegations would cause him trouble due to his public status as a member of the Bowlen family."

But the crux of the argument involves the two original offenses noted on the summons given to him last year: harassment and telecommunications crime, both described as "an act of domestic violence." The Bowlen brief notes that count two was eventually dismissed after the judge in the case denied a prosecution request to amend it — and now the attorneys maintain that his conviction under the first charge should be "vacated because the complaint...failed to state an offense, and the county court accordingly lacked jurisdiction."

How so? Because, writes 18th Judicial District DA's office communications director Vikki Migoya, "the officer who arrested him did not include a parenthetical subsection when writing the number of the criminal-harassment statute on the summons and complaint."

The DA's office answer brief, also included in this post, takes even more pages — 23 of them — to refute this theory. The gist: Bowlen had "actual knowledge" (the italics are in the original) of the proper subsection of the law that applied to him. Moreover, that knowledge "was based on the original harassment charge, the original statutory citation, defense counsel's involvement in the investigation, motions testimony months before trial, and discovery provided." With that in mind, "the People respectfully request that this Court AFFIRM Bowlen's conviction."

Bowlen's team has until Monday, September 12, to respond. After that, the district court will make its ruling, and if the decision goes against him, Bowlen can appeal again, this time to the Colorado Supreme Court.

That would definitely take the case into overtime. Look below to see Bowlen's brief and the prosecution's response, followed by our previous coverage.

John Bowlen Opening Brief

John Bowlen Answer Brief

Original post, 6:26 a.m. April 15: 
Last June, John Bowlen, son of Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen (and the team's possible heir), was arrested following a domestic-violence incident allegedly fueled by alcohol and whippets — yes, nitrous-oxide chargers of the sort whose use even the most idiotic frat bros tend to outgrow by graduation.

Adding to the embarrassment of the matter was the release of police audio in which John claimed he was the current owner of the Broncos and referred to himself as the "blood of the city," whatever the hell that means.

We've shared the audio here for your listening pleasure.

In the end, Bowlen was charged with harassment — and even though he was represented by attorney Harvey Steinberg, who has a well-deserved reputation for getting Broncos out of trouble with the law, a jury has found him guilty.

As detailed in arrest reports also on view below, the incident took place in an apartment at 4550 Cherry Creek Drive South.

Bowlen's girlfriend of ten months told police in Glendale, which has jurisdiction in the area, that she'd dialed 911 because after drinking and inhaling whippets, John had announced that he'd killed someone.

Who? Supposedly someone "with whom he'd had prior contact" — and his statement apparently freaked out his girlfriend enough to make her run to the bathroom and punch in the aforementioned three digits.

The arrest report maintains that John reacted by shoving her against a wall, causing her to drop her cell phone, which he then grabbed.

Moments later, the 911 operator rang the line and John answered. He told the operator, "This is the owner of the Denver Broncos. I am sorry. Nothing is wrong. This is John Bowlen; Johnny Bowlen."

By the way, Bowlen was working as a corporate-partnerships coordinator for the Broncos at the time.

The "nothing is wrong" assertion might have been more convincing had a woman not been heard screaming in the background. No wonder the cops rushed to the scene. The affidavit says she was crying in the bathroom upon officers' arrival and was "in fear for her safety and in shock at the time."

During the phone call, Bowlen also made his "blood of the city" remark, talked up his friendship with Denver mayor Michael Hancock, referenced what he's been through taking care of his father (Pat has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's), maintained that his girlfriend had dialed 911 because "she is crazy" and had consumed seven beers despite weighing just 95 pounds, and declared, “I didn’t do anything wrong! I didn’t do anything, and I’m going to call Harvey."

He did — but despite Steinberg's legal wizardry, Bowlen was still found guilty by a jury in Arapahoe County yesterday.

The sentence: 24 months' probation, plus evaluations for drugs, alcohol and mental health, and what the 18th Judicial District DA's office refers to as domestic-violence "treatment and evolution."

Look below to see Bowlen's Arapahoe County mug shot, followed by the aforementioned audio, originally obtained by the Denver Post, and the arrest documents.

John Bowlen Arrest Affidavit

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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