Friday, March 12, 2010

Hey, hey! Shout out for the Denver DA

Hey, hey, look at me. Writing a a blog in praise of the Denver District Attorney’s office.

I have never liked district attorneys throughout most of my journalistic carreer.

It goes back to covering some trials in Austin, Texas, where longtime DA Ronnie Earle made it a policy of his office not to prosecute cases he knew he might not win, but only cases that were sure convictions.

Only later did I learn that’s a widespread practice of district attorneys across America.

In fact, that's one bit of early evidence of the corruption of the electoral process in America, which today can be seen in the failure of Congress to pass health-care reform, immigration reform, and financial reform.

Elected officials, from sheriffs to DAs to congressmen/women, do not serve the public interest if their own personal interests – their re-election prospects – are not served by their actions.

That’s a terrible truth about America’s mature democracy. Government officials have learned too well how to game the American peoples’ will. The Tea Party movement, Ross Perot’s presidential campaign as well as Ralph Nader’s multiple presidential fantasies are all driven by that terrible truth.

Everyone in Washington and many, many people outside it (see Buie Seawell's guest commentary in Sunday's Denver Post) realize our democracy has been corrupted by wealth and position, and almost none of the people who know it actually object to it or want to change it.

But I digress.

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey’s office worked long and hard with Denver police since Jan. 1. 2007 to solve the Darrent Williams murder case. Yesterday, it came away with a conviction of a gangbanger (he will remain nameless here rather than be historicized for his crime) who apparently immediately realized how badly he messed up when he shot into a limousine that New Year’s morning, killing Williams and wounding two others.

It took Morrissey’s office only four months to get the wheels of justice turning toward a conviction. By April, prosecutors and police got indictments of a huge cache of our town's gangbangers on drug offenses. I would guess now that officials knew then they would find Darrent Williams’ killer among them.

It took three years to convict the killer, but the wait and all the work proved worthy of every moment and every ounce of energy when a jury certain of its findings yesterday announced its verdict: guilty, guilty, guilty.

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