Fifth Judicial District Attorney race: Bruce Brown wants to work with Summit to right ship
Ryan Summerlin October 17, 2012
Fifth Judicial District Attorney candidate Bruce Brown is running because he feels there has been a lack of leadership within the current office, and that change cannot come in the form of his competitor, Scott Turner.
“My opponent has been with the district attorney’s office for five years. He considers himself a leader within that office,” Brown said. “The change that needs to occur cannot come from within, it needs to come from outside the office and restore the confidence in the prosecutor’s office to do justice by victims.”
Among the issues Brown, a Democrat, takes with the current office: Only a very small percentage of Summit County’s felony cases go to trial, he said, adding that “too many cases that go to trial are lost, and the cases that are resolved short of trial demonstrate a disconnect between the district attorney’s handling of cases and our community conscious.” Brown also says that 60 percent of the office’s sexual assault cases are lost at trial.
“That’s a disturbing situation for the community, as well as for those individuals,” Brown said. “That has to do with trial skills.”
If elected, Brown wants to give more mentoring to the young and inexperienced attorneys in order to give them more confidence in court, something he says will help with trial skills. Like his opponent, Brown is a fan of restorative justice, and would put it “foremost on the minds of every prosecutor in the court so that each defendant and each victim is being treated as an individual.”
Brown also feels the current office turns a “blind eye” to high-priority offenders.
“With respect to the offenders that truly constitute a public safety risk, this office is not doing a good job of identifying them and giving them a punishment that fits the crime,” he said.
When it comes to those first-time or youth offenders, Brown has a different take.
“I think we can take a more holistic view with many cases toward young or first-time offenders to give them the opportunity to keep their records clean, and to improve themselves without becoming a fixture in the criminal courts,” he said, adding that he supports juvenile diversion programs.
A Colorado Bureau of Investigation background check conducted by the Summit Daily found that at the age of 21, Brown was convicted of a misdemeanor larceny and fined $50 for stealing a plant.
“I think as a result of many life experiences I have strongly held opinions today, including the fact that when people do things and they’re young and they make mistakes; it shouldn’t be something that tails them for the rest of their lives,” he said.
Brown also cites a lack of communication within the current district attorney’s office, and says he will return the phone calls he alleges the current office doesn’t.
“There’s been a failure of leadership in the district attorney’s office under Scott Turner,” Brown said. “I know that by harnessing the skills I have, with the strengths of the Summit County community, we can work together to right the ship.”
Brown is divorced and has three children. In his free time, he enjoys doing community service, coaching sports, skiing, hiking and vacationing.
Brown has been practicing law for 26 years. He grew up in California, and after graduating law school at the age of 23, began working for the Los Angeles public defender’s office. After two years, Brown was handling his own cases and investigations. He went into private practice not long after, and has stuck with it ever since. Brown moved out to Colorado full-time in 2002, and currently works out of Idaho Springs. He served as the Clear Creek County coordinator for the Hickenlooper for Governor campaign.
Brown has never worked as a prosecutor – the closest work he does is in victim representation, he said – and alleges that his opponent’s attacks on his defense background are misleading; Turner is trying to undermine his qualifications, he said.
“Frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a good prosecutor who is not a good defense attorney, or vise versa,” he said. “Well over a dozen current and former prosecutors endorse my candidacy, as well as elected district attorneys. These are experts in the field who say this is a false test for the position.”
Brown, like Turner, doesn’t know his record, but said the assumption that it matters is false. Whatever it is, he’s proud of it.
“I’m thought of in general as the lawyer who takes the tough and unwinnable cases. Sometimes I win, sometimes I don’t,” he said. “What I hope is reflected in my record is that I give 110 percent for every client, whether victim or accused. They leave the courtroom believing that I did everything possible for their case, win or lose.”
Good lawyers are good communicators, he said, a skill Brown feels he can bring to the district attorney’s office.
“From the standpoint of returning common sense to the courtroom, we need a change,” Brown said.