Judge Thompson accused of threatening someone with an ‘AR-15 style rifle’

Chief Judge Mark Thompson wears a mask in the courtroom during a hearing at the Summit County Justice Center in Breckenridge on April 28.
Liz Copan/Summit Daily News archive

Fifth Judicial District Judge Mark Thompson allegedly threatened a community member with a rifle, according to court documents released Wednesday, Oct. 20.

On Saturday, Oct. 16, the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office charged Thompson with a single count of felony menacing stemming from an incident in July. A criminal complaint was released to the public Wednesday afternoon, but the document provided no new details about how the incident unfolded aside from the type of weapon with which Thompson is accused of threatening someone.

The complaint claims that on July 25, 2021, Thompson placed an unnamed person in “fear of imminent serious bodily injury by use of a deadly weapon … namely: an AR-15 style rifle.”

The name of the alleged victim was redacted from the complaint, and the document provided no further information about where the incident took place or the series of events leading up to the alleged crime. The lone witness named in the complaint is a Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent.

Rob McCallum, public information officer for the Colorado Judicial Department, said the information provided in the complaint is normal for a summons. Because Thompson was not arrested, there is no affidavit of probable cause in support of a warrantless arrest, which would typically provide more details.

Officials also released the summons issued to Thompson, which orders him to appear in court Dec. 17.

Court records were initially suppressed in the case at the request of 5th Judicial District Attorney Heidi McCollum, who argued in her motion that the “release at this time of any of the documents of record in this matter could … jeopardize the ongoing investigation and/or interfere with the rights of the defendant, including irreversible harm to reputation, and the defendant’s and the people’s right to a fair trial.”

A special prosecutor from the 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office has since been assigned to the case.

On Oct. 16, the Colorado Judicial Branch announced that Thompson would be removed from his leadership position as the district’s chief judge until the case could be adjudicated. District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman has been appointed to replace him until the matter has concluded.

Thompson has been on planned paid time off and will be allowed to resume his duties as a judicial officer once he returns, though not as chief judge, according to the Colorado Judicial Department.

Other judges in the district have all recused themselves from participating in the case, and 17th Judicial District Judge Sean Finn has been assigned to preside over it.

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