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Judge acquits Teller County man who blocked road 

A Teller County man who was arrested for blocking a road across his property was acquitted of criminal charges last week.

Darwin Floyd, who lives north of Divide on a private lot surrounded by national forest land, said he felt vindicated in his long battle with county officials, who claim the road is a public right of way.

"I'm just glad to have it over with," Floyd said after Judge Jackson Peters, of the 4th Judicial District, ruled that prosecutors had failed to prove any crime was committed.

It was the second time a judge has rejected efforts to prosecute Floyd.

Floyd and his wife have lived on their property, the site of a former gold mine, since 1999. They sought peace and quiet but soon discovered that the dirt road across their land was heavily traveled by off-road vehicles. Floyd put up gates across the road but ended up being arrested, because Teller County commissioners have declared the road to be public.

County officials say the road falls under a federal law known as RS 2477, which, under certain circumstances, allows local authorities to claim rights of way across public and private land where roads have historically existed.

Peters' decision doesn't settle the dispute over the road across Floyd's property. However, Floyd's attorney, Tim Pleasant, said he hoped county officials would stop trying to "criminalize" the property dispute.

"It certainly vindicates what Darwin Floyd and I have said all along: He has not been involved in criminal behavior," Pleasant said.

Floyd has threatened to sue county officials for trespass, malfeasance, false and malicious prosecution and violations of his constitutional rights. He said he has not yet decided whether to proceed with the lawsuit, or whether to block the road again.

This week, 4th Judicial District Attorney Jeanne Smith said her office has no plans to appeal Peters' decision. She wouldn't say whether Floyd would be prosecuted a third time if he decides to block the road again.

"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it," she said.

-- Terje Langeland

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