Judge denies motion to postpone Summit County stalking trial
April 20, 2014
Attorneys with the Colorado Public Defender’s Office appeared in Summit County District Court Thursday, April 17, requesting that Gordon “Scott” Siriano’s eight-day jury trial scheduled for June be pushed back to a later date, but 5th Judicial District Judge Karen Romeo said no chance.
The motion to continue the case was filed by Dana Christiansen, who heads the public defender’s office in Dillon and who missed Thursday’s status conference due to a scheduling conflict. Public defender Sommer Spector appeared in his place and argued for the continuance by saying Christiansen has another high-profile felony case in Clear Creek County the week of June 9.
Siriano’s eight-day trial, in which he faces up to 20 charges ranging from misdemeanor protection order violations to felony stalking across three separate cases in Summit and Eagle counties, is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Monday, June 9.
“It is not the defense’s intention to dilly dally or further delay proceedings, but we’re going to be shorthanded then and we don’t have another attorney who could be brought up to speed on this case in just a couple of months,” Spector said. “Dana has an ongoing relationship with Mr. Siriano and knows all of the ins and outs of this case, which is clearly complicated.”
Assigning this case to another attorney without delaying the trial, “simply is not a constitutional option for Mr. Siriano,” the public defender argued.
Deputy district attorney Rusty Prindle, who recently joined the district attorney’s office and plans to assist colleague Mark Franklin in prosecuting Siriano, said delaying the trial any further was not an option or in the best interests of the alleged victim.
Siriano has twice been tried on the existing three cases, Prindle said, both of which ended in mistrials. On the first occasion, a mistrial was ordered because of discovery concerns on behalf of the prosecution. The second mistrial was declared in February because a previously selected juror was not able to perform jury duty.
“I spoke to the victim yesterday (Wednesday) and today to tell her about the motion to continue and she is adamantly opposed to continuing this trial again,” Prindle said. “These cases have been in court for a significant period of time already and she’s beginning to lose faith in the system.
“That’s my concern. She has the right to be heard and I don’t see any reason why this trial should be continued again.”
In addressing the motion, Romeo first informed Spector that she had already spoken to 5th Judicial District Judge Wayne Patton, who sits on the bench in Clear Creek and Lake counties, about rescheduling Christiansen’s felony trial in Georgetown to July. Romeo also questioned the case’s “high-profile” nature, saying she knows it’s a two-day felony menacing trial.
“I agree it is time to try this case, as it has already been unreasonably delayed and there’s no room on the docket for several months to move an eight-day trial,” Romeo said. “This case takes precedent; it’s been tried twice before and it’s the oldest case (on the docket). “We’ll move the other cases around, and if we can’t we’re all just going to have to deal with it.”
Siriano is scheduled to return to district court at 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 28, for a pretrial conference.
Prior to delivering her order on the motion, Romeo also inquired about the status of another case against Siriano making its way from Summit County Court to district court.
In that case, Siriano faces one charge each of violating bail bond conditions, a Class 6 felony, and violating a protection order, a misdemeanor. The charges stem from an incident in March, in which Siriano allegedly visited his ex-fiancée’s daughter at work in Dillon.
Siriano’s ex-fiancée is the alleged victim in the three cases set for trial in June. An active protection order stipulates that Siriano may not have contact with the victim or any members of her family.
Given the nature of the offenses and their alleged perpetration against the same cast of characters, Franklin said previously he plans to file a motion to join the most recent case with the three set for trial in June. A preliminary hearing on the latest case is set for Tuesday, May 27, but Romeo said Thursday the district attorney’s office filed a motion to move that preliminary hearing to an earlier date.
The motion hadn’t yet been ruled upon, Romeo said, but she asked Prindle if she should expect the district attorney’s office to also file a joinder motion if the preliminary hearing is bumped up to an earlier date.
Prindle said the district attorney’s office intends to be prepared to try all four cases regardless of whether the preliminary hearing is rescheduled.
“It is my understanding that we plan to file a motion to join the cases,” Prindle said. “They’re violation of bail bond charges, which would be easy to add to these cases, and we intend to be prepared to try all four cases in June.
“However, we are not in favor of continuing this trial and would be more in favor of trailing the new case if we have to.”
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