The Home Front: In Colorado, a juror in a decade-old death penalty trial is on the run

The Home Front: In Colorado, a juror in a decade-old death penalty trial is on the run

It sounds like the plot of a John Grisham novel: A juror on the run. “An arrest warrant has been issued for a juror who served on one of the most high-profile homicide trials of the past decade in Colorado, part of an inquiry into possible misconduct that could overturn two separate murder cases and a death sentence,” The Denver Post reports. “A judge issued the warrant Feb. 17, after the juror failed to show up for a court appearance where she was to be questioned about her service in the trial 10 years ago. In a court document filed last month, defense attorneys for death row inmate Sir Mario Owens accuse the juror of numerous instances of misconduct during the first of Owens’ two murder trials.”

Ever since White House press secretary Sean Spicer warned of “greater enforcement” of marijuana laws, questions about the fate of legal weed under the administration of President Donald Trump have been making the front page of local newspapers across Colorado. The Greeley Tribune today fronts a big story on the local impact. “I contacted my attorney within the first hour,” one local marijuana worker told the paper. “The first question would be to the state of Colorado. We’ve contacted them, and they have no answer.” Officials with the Department of Revenue Marijuana Enforcement Division could not immediately be reached for comment. “Nature’s Herbs and Wellness is one of four marijuana stores in Garden City, and they combine to make up half of the city’s budget. The hint that the newfound revenue stream might dry out has Garden City officials paying close attention.”

The Loveland Reporter-Herald reports how Democratic Congressman Jared Polis plans to spotlight the good work of immigrants as a counter to Trump’s plan to highlight crimes by immigrants. “President Trump was wrong when he insinuated immigrants are a greater threat to public safety than American citizens. This fear is misplaced and perpetuated by ‘alternative facts’ or lies,” Polis said in the statement. “In actuality, immigrants are much less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States. The truth is that hard working immigrants help vitalize our economy at home and bolster our global competitiveness. We are strongest as a nation, when we embrace our diversity,” he said.

“Despite concerns about personal information being accidentally released to anyone who asks, a bill to modernize the Colorado Open Records Act to be more in step with the digital world cleared a Senate committee on Wednesday,” The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports. “While numerous opponents said the bill could make vulnerable the personal information of thousands of Coloradans, state experts from the Secretary of State’s Office and the Colorado Attorney General’s Office said there were plenty of safeguards built into the bill to prevent that. The bill, more than a year in the making, is an attempt to ensure that if government records that already are public documents are kept in a digital format, such as a computer database, that they must be provided to the public in that same fashion, said Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, who introduced SB40.”

“Later this year, Longmont’s city staff is expected to present the City Council with a report about its options if it wants to enact a partial repeal of the city’s ban on shops selling medical and recreational marijuana sales inside the city limits,” The Longmont Times-Call reports. “At least some council members indicated during meetings last year that they’d be willing to consider revising or ending Longmont’s prohibitions against pot shops. The issue resurfaced on Tuesday night, when Mayor Dennis Coombs floated a motion to have the council vote to direct the city staff to draft an ordinance that would allow as many as six marijuana dispensaries to operate in Longmont — as long as they’re located out of the core downtown area and acceptable distances from schools.”

“Black Hills Energy’s push to get Commissioner Frances Koncilja barred from any review of its 2016 rate case fell short Wednesday when new Colorado Public Utilities Chairman Jeff Ackermann sided with Koncilja, turning away the utility’s claim she is prejudiced against the company,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “New Commissioner Wendy Moser, a former Black Hills lawyer, voted against Koncilja at the weekly meeting Wednesday morning. Koncilja, a Pueblo native and Denver lawyer, had already refused to withdraw and repeated her objections Wednesday.”

The Coloradoan in Fort Collins reports the state’s DUI law is plagued with inconsistencies. “When Colorado lawmakers established the state’s first felony penalty for driving under the influence in 2015, they did so without reaching consensus on how the new law’s success would be measured. More than 1,000 arrests later, that remains the case as debate continues over the pros, cons and inconsistencies in the law’s enforcement. The new law carries harsher potential penalties, including the possibility of a prison sentence, for anyone arrested for driving under the influence or alcohol or drugs who already has three or more DUI convictions on their criminal record. In 2016, the first full year the felony DUI law was in effect, it was charged 78 times in Larimer County and 88 times in Weld County.”

“A partnership between the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless and the University of Colorado’s Brain Behavior Clinic now provides the ability for members of the homeless community to obtain free cognitive assessments — a critical step in their bid to get the financial help they need,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera.

“The Federal Communications Commission granted a petition on Wednesday that is expected to bring Denver-based television access to La Plata County as early as this summer,” reports The Durango Herald. “The county was the first in the country to request a market modification from the FCC, which allows satellite providers to offer subscribers access to in-state television programming. La Plata County is an orphan county, meaning that residents do not receive television programming in-state, but from Albuquerque.”

“Fifteen of Fremont County’s extraordinary women will be honored during the inaugural Fremont’s Exceptional Women event March 10 at the E-Free Church. The F.E.W. committee received 65 nominations for women to be recognized in one of five categories,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “The committee this week announced the semi-finalists that were selected by an independent judging committee.”

“Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner held a telephone town hall with nearly 10,000 participants Wednesday ahead of a meeting scheduled with President Trump,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “Gardner has come under increasing fire for refusing to hold in-person town halls, especially while he was back in Colorado last week for the February congressional recess. But Gardner said Wednesday that telephone town halls offer a way to still connect with constituents. He moved the phone call up by about a half hour to accommodate the president’s schedule.”

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About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyHutchins and email him at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.

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