The DA Dispatch
Updates from Your Denver DA
Holiday Greetings
The holidays are a time for hope and finding the miracles that abound in the otherwise stressful reality of our current world.

Earlier this year, I witnessed the courage of three women who overcame their fears to testify in the sexual assault case I tried with Assistant DA Maggie Conboy. Each of these women had different backgrounds and personal stories but were joined as victims. We knew that pursuing this case would be difficult but facing the defendant in court empowered these women. Their courage in turn kept us going through the challenges of the trial. Seeking justice for victims is rewarding and important work, and the resolve of these women inspired me.
I see the same resolve in the members of this office. This holiday season marks the close of a second year of unprecedented challenges yet those challenges presented new opportunities for us to listen, learn and adapt. Our amazing staff rose to every occasion and we are stronger for it. I am amazed at how all of you continue to step up to take care of each other and the community. Whether by donating food or money or through volunteering, you provide hope. It is my pleasure to serve you as your district attorney and I wish you a joyful and peaceful holiday season.
Protecting Public Safety
Upholding public safety is our top priority and part of our mission is to prevent and deter crimes which is why we are deeply troubled by Denver’s uptick in violent crime.

We don’t have all of the answers as to what is driving our current crime spike. Certainly the economic and societal hardships from COVID, the prevalence of guns in our community, the devastation wrought by the opioid epidemic and the lack of adequate mental health and substance abuse treatment are contributors. We look forward to engaging with you and hearing your thoughts on how the community can address these issues.
Lately, we’ve heard about the role bond plays in the criminal justice system, and we want to assure you that our prosecutors are in court every day fighting to keep offenders who present a danger to the public in custody. It is important to remember that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty and that the purpose of bond is to a) keep violent offenders away from the public, and b) ensure that the offenders show up for their court appearances. While both prosecutors and defense lawyers argue for what each feel are reasonable terms and amounts for bond, it is the judge who ultimately decides bond.
Learn more about the bond issue in this CBS4 News story:

We must hold people accountable for criminal behavior and also look what we can do as a community to prevent crime from happening in the first place. We are working hard to interrupt the behavior that is causing our youth to use guns and going hard after those who commit violent crime. Our office is eager to explore solutions with the community.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month
In support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, we wore purple - the color of survival, courage and peace - to let victims of domestic violence know they have our support and to raise awareness of this issue.
Victims of domestic violence are exponentially more likely to be killed if their abuser has access to a gun. That’s why it is critical to ensure firearms are removed as soon as a victim seeks help or obtains a protection order.

Colorado law bans a person with a domestic violence protection order against them from owning or possessing firearms and they have 72 hours to do so once a protective order is issued. The Denver District Attorney’s Office is one of the only jurisdictions in the country with a dedicated investigator enforcing that law, and we are very proud that he has been able to secure 132 firearms year to date from domestic violence abusers. 

Taking Down The Sopranos
Early in October, we announced that a Denver Grand Jury indicted 11 people on 91 counts for allegedly committing a series of crimes to support their fentanyl, heroin and methamphetamine addictions. The group, who called themselves "The Sopranos", paired into teams to steal vehicles - one acting as the look-out while the other broke in, started the car and drove away. They targeted Kias and Hyundais as well as puffer cars (reminder that it’s illegal to leave your car running while unattended).  
The Sopranos are accused of freely sharing techniques on Facebook to perfect the best methods of quickly stealing cars, coordinate crimes to elude capture, and arrange for each other's bond. On some occasions, they took to social media and livestreamed their activities while in progress. 

Click here to watch a Fox31 news story on this alleged organized crime ring.
Building Through Transparency
In November, DA McCann released a follow-up report to our April study that sought to explore the presence and extent of racial and ethnic differences in case outcomes within our office. While the original report found no pervasive issues of racism or bias, it did identify additional opportunities for the office to ensure fair justice for all. 
My pledge to the people of Denver is that we will continue to be mindful of cultural and racial impacts in the work
that we do and to treat
people of all races and ethnic
backgrounds fairly."
- DA McCann
The follow-up report found that the reasons cases were dismissed were similar across cases involving Black, Hispanic and White defendants. Moreover, while fewer Black defendants received a deferred judgment, reasons for receiving deferred judgments were similar for White, Black, and Hispanic defendants.

The new report supports what DA McCann believed all along: that the Denver DA’s Office is is on the right track toward addressing the disproportionate representation of people of color in the criminal justice system. We must always be vigilant if we are to ensure equal justice for all.

Building a Better World
"To build a better world by working hard and by collaborating with my co-workers to go above and beyond expectations," was a mission statement written by 28-year-old Ethan Small prior to his life being senselessly taken by a drunk and drugged driver who was driving 90-mph through Denver's city streets when he ran a red light and killed Ethan.
In late September, Colorado’s Mothers Against Drunk Driving held an awards dinner during which the Law Enforcement Champions Award was given to Denver Deputy DAs Ashley Morgan and Bilal Aziz, Victim Advocate Maribel Salazar, Senior Criminal Investigator John Saulton and Denver Police Department Detective Roni Roberson for securing a 30-year prison sentence for Ethan's murderer.
On behalf of Ethan and all the victims of senseless crimes, we will continue to work hard to make this world a better place.
Victim Advocates: The Unsung Heroes of Justice
We have long recognized our victim advocates to be the unsung heroes of justice. Now thanks to Law Week Colorado, which shined a spotlight on their work, you can learn more about their amazing work too. As Chief Deputy DA Andrew Luxen explains:

“The support they provide, the context they give to victims and other participants in the process is essential for us to be able to get a case from point A all the way through to trial and disposition. Without them, this process wouldn't work."
The article details how during trials our victim advocates fill a wide variety of roles which can range from voicing a victim’s interest on a potential legal move, asking questions attorneys may not have considered but the jury could be wondering and offering emotional support to victims of crimes so that testimony goes smoothly.

Read the story, Behind the Scenes of the Denver DA’s Office, Victim Advocates Play a Key Role (A Law Week Colorado subscription is required to read the full article).
Congratulations to New U.S. Attorney for Colorado, Cole Finegan
We are pleased that Cole Finegan, former Denver city attorney and chief of staff to then Mayor John Hickenlooper was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in November to be Colorado's next U.S. Attorney.
"Cole Finegan is as an outstanding lawyer and I congratulate him on his confirmation," said DA McCann. "I have known Cole for a long time and look forward to working with him in the pursuit of justice."
In Denver local, state and federal law enforcement agencies work well together and collaborate on many fronts to protect our neighborhoods.