Thursday, January 4, 2018

CSPD records foul-up causes no problems, DA reports

Posted By on Thu, Jan 4, 2018 at 4:14 PM

Dan May reports a records miscue caused no problems. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Dan May reports a records miscue caused no problems.
Back in February 2017, we reported that the Colorado Springs Police Department didn't provide thousands of police reports to defendants' attorneys due to a mixup in record-keeping.

At that time, a police spokesperson promised to provide an update after an audit was complete.

Apparently, that audit is now complete, and, as District Attorney's Office spokesperson Lee Richards reports, "[DA] Dan May says not a single case was affected." She did not elaborate.

So despite an internal memo at that time in which a CSPD officer expressed "great concern" about the snafu, all is apparently well.

From our story:
Thousands of Colorado Springs Police Department reports never made it to prosecutors, despite the fact that defendants are entitled to see such materials prior to trial or seeking a plea bargain.

A CSPD news release said about 3,000 electronic reports, primarily narcotics-related, that spanned four years were involved, but added "that number may turn out to be significantly smaller once we complete our review." That appraisal contradicts an internal memo written by a high-ranking officer, which was obtained by the Independent. It described the discovery as being "of great concern."

"No one has reviewed these reports and ensured they were followed up on," the memo said. "No special unit supervisor looked at the reports and assigned them. There are thousands of reports that may or may not have suspect information. There are reports that may have been useful in cases that have been prosecuted and the information would be considered discoverable."

The Indy learned of the misplaced reports when tipsters familiar with police operations (who spoke only on the condition of anonymity) revealed that the department has lost track of up to 30,000 supplemental police reports.
We also wrote a blog post about the issue, which you can read here.

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Sessions to open door for marijuana crackdown

Posted By on Thu, Jan 4, 2018 at 1:56 PM

senate_judiciary_committee_chairman_sen._jeff_sessions_r-al.jpg

UPDATE: U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer of Colorado's District has now responded to the new guidance on marijuana enforcement. He released this vague statement:

Today the Attorney General rescinded the Cole Memo on marijuana prosecutions, and directed that federal marijuana prosecution decisions be governed by the same principles that have long governed all of our prosecution decisions. The United States Attorney’s Office in Colorado has already been guided by these principles in marijuana prosecutions — focusing in particular on identifying and prosecuting those who create the greatest safety threats to our communities around the state.  We will, consistent with the Attorney General’s latest guidance, continue to take this approach in all of our work with our law enforcement partners throughout Colorado.

What we still don't know is whether Troyer, who replaced former U.S. Attorney John Walsh in August 2016 and was then officially appointed by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in November, believes, like Sessions apparently does, that the use, possession and distribution of marijuana represents one of "the greatest safety threats to our communities."

——ORIGINAL POST: 11:08 A.M. THURS. JAN. 4——

After about a year of wondering “will he or won’t he?” it appears the answer is: “He will.”

As of Jan. 4, multiple news outlets reported that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions intends to rescind an important Obama era drug enforcement policy known as the Cole Memo. The Cole Memo, named for then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole, was issued in 2013, after voters in Colorado and Washington approved measures legalizing marijuana for recreational use. It was meant to address the conflict with federal law, which still holds that marijuana is a Schedule I substance (meaning, highly addictive with no medical benefit).

Sent to federal prosecutors in the relevant states, the memo set out guidance for their prosecution of marijuana-related crimes. "The [Department of Justice is] committed to using its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources to address the most significant threats in the most effective, consistent and rational way," it stated. Therefore, the DOJ would expect state and local authorities to police health and safety issues through a robust regulatory system while it would reserve its own resources for priority cases like sale to minors, interstate diversion and gang activity.

The Cole Memo created an environment that let state regulators, cannabis businesses and consumers feel comfortable partaking of the state-legalized substance, knowing that if they basically followed the rules, they had nothing to worry about. It encouraged investment and growth. In Colorado, the recreational side of the industry brings in over a billion dollars in sales annually, supporting tens of thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue for schools, law enforcement and addiction treatment.

That environment is about to change. It doesn't necessarily mean that federal agents are about to swoop into the six states that have legalized, wiping everything out and sending everyone to prison. But it does mean renewed uncertainty about the status of legalized weed.

Here's Sessions' new memo, via Politico.
We've put in a call to the U.S. Attorney's office in Colorado to see how its attorneys are thinking of the policy change and will report back when we hear something.

In the meantime, industry players, advocates and elected officials are responding.

The Southern Colorado Cannabis Council, a group that advocates for patients, posted a statement saying they're prepared to "stand up" to Sessions.

Sal Pace, the Democratic County Commissioner from Pueblo said this in a statement: "A reversal of the sovereign voice of the American public is an assault on the intellect of Americans, an assault on the fundamental tenants of democracy, and an attack on the Constitutional guarantee of states’ rights."

Colorado's U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner put this statement out:

Reports that the Justice Department will rescind their current policy on legal marijuana enforcement are extremely alarming. Before I voted to confirm Attorney General Sessions, he assured me that marijuana would not be a priority for this Administration. Today’s action directly contradicts what I was told, and I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation. In 2016, President Trump said marijuana legalization should be left up to the states and I agree.

Colorado's  U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, on Twitter, wrote: "In rescinding the Cole memo, the Attorney General failed to listen to Colorado, and will create unnecessary chaos and confusion."
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