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Colorado Judge's Muzzling of Grand Jury Report Demands an Explanation

Back on July 6, 2010, we blogged about the dismissal by a Denver, Colorado District Court Judge of serious felony charges against a defendant based on the fact that a Denver police officer apparently lied in an arrest warrant affidavit. We wondered at that time whether or not the officer involved would be disciplined or charged criminally for his under-oath departure from the truth.
The case had now taken a strange turn.
A Denver grand jury recently investigated the series of possibly racially motivated 2009 lower downtown Denver assaults and robberies, in which the defendant mentioned in our July 6 article purportedly was involved. Unnamed police sources say that the grand jury decided not to charge the involved police officer with perjury or other possible criminal activity. The grand jury did, however, decide to issue a written report, which state law allows it to do.
Here’s the twist: The Denver District Court judge supervising the grand jury has decided to seal the grand jury’s report. Even stranger still, the judge sealed her own order explaining why she had sealed the grand jury report. Thus, we don’t know what the grand jury said about the incidents or even why the judge won’t permit us to know.
The specially appointed district attorney assigned to work with the grand jury vowed to appeal the judge’s sealing orders. He said that nothing like this had ever happened to him before, and that the orders frustrated the public’s right to know.
We hope the judge –who is a legal scholar– had some compelling reason for her action. We won’t know the reason until an appellate court rules on the matter. And if the appeals court upholds the sealing orders, we may never know.
Stay tuned.