Routt County's district attorney won't drop petty pot cases


Brett Barkey

— Despite imminent changes to the state’s marijuana laws, 14th Judicial District Attorney Brett Barkey said Thursday he has no plans to dismiss petty pot cases currently being prosecuted in the courts.

“We’re going to continue to process any of the cases that we have in the pipeline,” said Barkey, whose jurisdiction includes Routt, Moffat and Grand counties.

Barkey, who came out against Amendment 64 before the election, said there are only a handful of petty marijuana charges pending in each of the county courts in the 14th Judicial District. He made the decision to continue pursuing charges after speaking with senior staff members and law enforcement officials in the district.

“Certainly it’s still illegal,” Barkey said. “We have an obligation to enforce the law as it is.”

In the wake of the passage of Amendment 64 by Colorado voters last week, Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett announced Wednesday that his office was dropping pending petty offense marijuana cases. He became the first district attorney in Colorado to take such action. Garnett isn't the only DA to make that decision.

On Thursday afternoon, Denver's district attorney said his office won't pursue charges against adults 21 and older who possess less than an ounce of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia. Existing cases involving petty marijuana offenses will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Prosecutors in the 17th Judicial District, which includes Broomfield and Adams counties, also will review pending cases on a case-by-case basis, according to the Denver Post.

Barkey, however, isn't alone in his stance. Weld County DA Ken Buck said in a statement Thursday that his office "has an obligation to prosecute offenses that were crimes at the time they occurred."

"Accordingly, we will not be dismissing existing marijuana possession cases. But more importantly, our office prosecutes low-level possession cases to get drug users help with their addictions. That practice will continue until state law changes," Buck said in a news release.

Like Barkey, Buck was an outspoken opponent of Amendment 64.

Once Amendment 64 becomes law — presumably by January — people 21 and older will be allowed to possess marijuana paraphernalia and as much as 1 ounce of marijuana. They'll also be able to grow as many as six plants.

In Routt County, 63 percent of voters were for the amendment. In Denver and Boulder, 66 percent of voters were supportive of the measure. Statewide, the measure passed with about 55 percent of the vote.

Until the law becomes official, Barkey said he would leave it up to local law enforcement agencies to decide whether they want to continue issuing tickets for petty marijuana infractions.

“There is some difference between each of them with how they’re going to approach new tickets, but that’s totally up to them,” Barkey said.

Steamboat Springs Police Chief Joel Rae and Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins say their departments are no longer issuing tickets for petty marijuana offenses.

“We should and need to follow the spirit of the law,” Rae said Thursday. “The spirit of the law was spoken by the people of Colorado on Nov. 6.”

Rae emphasized that his officers will continue to enforce laws not changed by Amendment 64, such as those that prohibit driving under the influence of marijuana, distribution of marijuana and consuming marijuana in public.

Voters in the state of Washington also voted to legalize possession of marijuana Nov. 6, though residents there will not be allowed to grow it. The Associated Press reported that at least three district attorneys in Washington have announced they will drop pending cases that would not be crimes under the new law. King County, where Seattle is located, on Friday announced it would be dropping 175 cases.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email

Community comments

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(bill schurman) expublicdefender says...

Barkey/Buck now's there is quite a pair. Repression lives.

Posted 16 November 2012, 6:41 a.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

Petty is as petty does. Lots of that here.

Posted 16 November 2012, 8:04 a.m. Suggest removal

(brian kofke) briankofke says...

Petty tyrants.

Posted 16 November 2012, 9:06 a.m. Suggest removal

(bill schurman) expublicdefender says...

"The prosecutor's function is to seek justice and not merely convictions". ABA Minimum Standards on the Prosecution's Function and People v. Jesse Joe Reynolds, Colorado Supreme Court (case involving the 14th JD DA's Office)

Posted 16 November 2012, 9:12 a.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

Truly evil DA.

Anyone with money will demand a trial and probably find a jury that won't convict or a judge that won't pick much of a sentence for something now legal.

Meanwhile, those without money will be forced to accept a plea deal for what is now legal.

So DA knows this decision is meant to hurt lower income people that cannot afford lawyers to fight these charges. Truly despicable.

Posted 16 November 2012, 9:21 a.m. Suggest removal

(bill schurman) expublicdefender says...

Possession <1oz = petty offense, no jail, Max $100 fine No Student Loan from the Feds (any marijuana possession same as 1000 pounds Heroin, etc as possession is possession.)

Posted 16 November 2012, 10:18 a.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

You forget, folks, crime is a cash business in this town, and Colorado's voters just eliminated another revenue source. Get it while you can.

Posted 16 November 2012, 10:41 a.m. Suggest removal

(Kris Hammond) KrisHammond says...

DA Barkey pledging to pursue his preferred policy of pointless punitive prejudicial post-prohibition petty pot possession prosecutions? This presumptuous pandering power play is preposterous and should be protested by the public.

Posted 16 November 2012, 11:55 a.m. Suggest removal

(bill schurman) expublicdefender says...

Since Greg Long Left the 14th JD DA's Office the Office has unfortunately begun pointless & punitive prosecutions. Always punitive in every case even the most minor offense and justice be damned. So much for their ethical duty to seek justice. Statistics matter. The spirit of Kerry St James lives on.

Posted 16 November 2012, 12:04 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

The letter of the day is 'P'.

Any other perceptive pejoratives for the pea-brained DA Barkley?

Posted 16 November 2012, 3:33 p.m. Suggest removal

(mark hartless) markhartless says...

I think this is just grand. Just grand indeed...

All you big government fans gettin smacked around by a big government.

On the bright side this new 6 plant limit might spur real estate sales as every pothead in the state buys 10 houses so they can have the 60 plants it takes to keep a steady supply comming.

Posted 16 November 2012, 6:44 p.m. Suggest removal

(jerry carlton) jlc says...

An ex public defender, a current defense attorney, a hippie stoner (but he loves the Nuggets and the Broncos so he is a good guy) bad mouthing the DA. Will wonders never cease?

Posted 16 November 2012, 8:21 p.m. Suggest removal

(Kris Hammond) KrisHammond says...

You don't really agree with the DA, do you? Isn't your post just a pot-shot at me?

Posted 16 November 2012, 10:28 p.m. Suggest removal

(Martha D Young) marthalee says...

What a waste of time and the public's money to prosecute the possession of less than one ounce marijuana cases. Open-mindedness ought to be a requirement for the position of D.A.

Posted 17 November 2012, 7:23 a.m. Suggest removal

(mark hartless) markhartless says...

Good one Jerry.

Think about something folks:

If the Attorney General of the United States won't prosecute the Black Panthers for voter intimidation, when they are ON VIDEO commiting that crime, then NOTHING IS A CRIME.
But then, a DA in Colorado WILL prosecute something that the voters just said IS NOT A CRIME.

The reality is that, under todays pollitical system ANYTHING the prosecutor wants can be a crime or ANY CRIME they want to excuse can be ignored.

This is what happens when THE PEOPLE excuse, and even sanction "selective enforcement" as a pollitical tool. And the people have FOOLISHLY done EXACTLY THAT.

Americans have accepted selective enforcement, both favoring and against their pollitical rivals, for so long that it has become standard operating procedure across the entire field of law enforcement, from police, prosecutors, all the way up to the attorney general.

"Lady justice" is no longer blindfolded. She is swing the club in whatever personal direction she likes. Sooner or later YOU too will be in her sights, and justice and intent of the law will HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

Welcome to the world of "justice" that you have created, folks.
And you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Posted 17 November 2012, 7:59 a.m. Suggest removal

(Kris Hammond) KrisHammond says...

If cameras and robocops monitored every square foot of the country and everyone were chipped and monitored 24/7 then we could catch and prosecute every violation without selective enforcement. Is this the world of justice you would create? Do you really want your tax dollars spent on the prosecution of behavior that has now been voted legal?

Posted 17 November 2012, 9:14 a.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

Yeah, a black man at a polling station should be prosecuted by the US AG for voter intimidation. And white Republican lawyers sent to predominately minority districts as poll watchers weren't meant to intimidate anyone. And where is the voter fraud investigation in Maine where, according to their party chairman in their heavily white state there were blacks that came out to vote?

Reading Mark's post, it is pretty clear that for him there is no crime more heinous to him or the Republican Party than blacks at the voting booth. For the black man in Philly, there is actual video of him at the polling station. What more evidence is needed for persecution?

Posted 17 November 2012, 9:36 a.m. Suggest removal

(mark hartless) markhartless says...

Did the republicans monitoring those polls have nightsticks in their hands like the Black Panthers did?
Did the republicans say anything like "you are about to be ruled by a black man now cracker" like the Black Panthers did?
Were the republicans who are alleged to have commited those crimes caught on video and audio like the Panthers WERE???
If so vigorously prosecute them too, I say. In fact, THAT'S MY POINT.
Prosecute CRIMES, not republican CRIMES, or DEMOCRAT crimes, or POTHEAD crimes, but ALL crimes.
ALL CRIMES. Get it???

The Black Panther deal is on video, easy to find on You Tube.
You just don't want it to be.

Right there is a good example from Scott.

We prosecute people for running red lights using video all the time, but the same tool can't possibly be evidence of black racism and voter intimidation, even with the audio, because Scott doesn't want it to be that way.

And what better way to side-track that argument and that FACT than to drag in a counter-claim from some other state, from another point in history, as if the second wrong excuses the first.
Even more effective in such shallow minds is to demonize the messenger and call me a racist.

That's the typical childish robot response, devoid of any substantive argument for my assertion that the crime went un-punished at the discretion of the chief law enforcement officer in the land.
Your debate interests me at times, Scott, even stimulates my thought processes, but calling me a racist really pisses me off.
I can't say what I really think about you in this blog for saying that. Just leave it to your vivid imagination.

Posted 17 November 2012, 10:40 a.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

"hippie stoner" eh? Wish I would've seen this before responding to another post.

There aren't five people in this town, who could even understand what I do, let alone help.

I'm not claiming any superiority; everybody's got their own boat to row. Just saying it's easy to generalize, lump people into categories, for the purpose of smugness -- our group is better than yours, us-and-them, we're in on the truth and pity those poor souls.

Some people are born to be shepherds, some people sheep, and some go their own way. Churches are just made for like-minded sheep. And don't skimp on the collection plate.

Seems this is the perfect platform for petty pot-shots (pun intended).

Posted 17 November 2012, 10:47 a.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

If you can grok this cartoon, maybe you've got a clue:

Don't forget to hover your mouse for the extra punch line.

Posted 17 November 2012, 11:03 a.m. Suggest removal

(jerry carlton) jlc says...

Sorry if I hurt your feelings Rhys but you three were ganging up on the DA. Somebody has to take up for him. I never said you are not a genius at computer stuff. Any first or second grader understands computers better than I do.

Kris Why would I take a pot shot at a criminal defense attorney who is bad mouthing the DA? Every body knows everyone loves criminal defense attorneys, especially criminals.

Posted 17 November 2012, 12:43 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

Hmm, the nightstick video is 4 years old. DOJ actually did investigate, but no one claimed to have been intimidated so they eventually dropped the case.

This year it was just one black man wearing a leather jacket opening the door for old ladies. In Philly, apparently the sight of a black man wearing black leather jacket is not intimidating. In Routt County that would apparently be intimidating to at least one person.

Posted 17 November 2012, 1:54 p.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

Jerry -- Apology accepted, and now I must apologize for my knee-jerk reaction.

I never claimed to be any genius -- if I was, I wouldn't have had to wash dishes to pay the rent last winter, nor would I be looking for any similar gig now. I was a fool 20 years ago to ever think I could make this work, yet I continue to beat the dead horse. I pirate everything I've got -- all my software is open-source, where I milk the efforts of thousands of programmers before me. I get about one new customer a year (niche stuff, not cheap) which is just enough to delude me that it MIGHT work some day, but nowhere near self-sustaining. In recent weeks I've discovered skeletons in my closet, some there for YEARS -- hardly genius stuff. I shoot myself in the foot ALL THE TIME, fail much more than succeed. (making the wins that much sweeter) NOOO, I am anything but a genius; truth be known, I'm extremely lazy, hoping to yet make the machine do all the work. When I do work, the mighty OZ is my companion, music soothes everything. On the ranch, I preferred the tractor with the radio.

What I was saying was how easy it is to polarize, align with one side or the other, the opponent truly evil, which will ultimately bring this country down, allowed to continue unabated -- can we all agree on that, whatever your slant?

I have never seen this country this divided, not even back in the 60's -- even in the Civil War, your neighbors were on your side. Not now. Your enemies are EVERYWHERE. I don't see the rift getting any narrower, quite the opposite.

When it comes to "moral decay" I think there is a Special Hell reserved for those who send our boys to die in foreign lands, seeking ultimately to dominate the whole Earth, purely for profit and at no risk to themselves.

Posted 17 November 2012, 2:01 p.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

In retrospect, Jerry, ya got me yakking about myself (I'm not vain) and I forgot the key point I wanted to make, which is...

I've seen life at its lowest, slums you wouldn't believe, floating crack houses, strung-out people, no laws, everybody armed, where I stuck out like a sore thumb... and all I can say is, it's easy to judge somebody, now walk a mile in their shoes.

I think most people are essentially good, even under the worst circumstances.

Posted 17 November 2012, 2:27 p.m. Suggest removal

(Kris Hammond) KrisHammond says...

So you agree with the DA's decision to continue to prosecute these cases? Why?

Posted 17 November 2012, 3:48 p.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

Kris -- Not to betray our cause, but... I think my brother the attorney might have replied "Because it was a crime at the time they committed it, and they knew it."

We'll never know, as he is no longer with us.

Not that I ascribe to that -- the law was wrong, which is why we had to vote to change it -- I'm just playing your game now.

Plus I thought I'd beat Jerry to it. Freebie, Jerry.

Posted 17 November 2012, 4:13 p.m. Suggest removal

(Kris Hammond) KrisHammond says...

Yes Rhys, that line is right out of the DA playbook. The more interesting question is: Now that the vote is in, is it a good policy to continue to spend tax dollars on these prosecutions? If anyone thinks so, I'd like to hear their rationale.

Posted 17 November 2012, 4:49 p.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

Bro' was a staunch Republican, as was I at the time. He often said most people want to pay LESS taxes, while he wanted to pay MORE taxes -- implication being, of course, he would be making more money.

Nevertheless, once when defending an exotic dancer, he argued that she couldn't be guilty of improper "manipulation" because if you study the etymology of that word, you'll see it originated with the French "main" or "hand" and she used her feet!! Never heard how that worked out... point being, you serve that hand that feeds you.

DA Barkey's stance probably is dictated from above, probably the State Attorney General, would be my guess. It seems the rednecks and the pharm dollars really don't like us telling them how we want our laws, and they're going to balk at every opportunity.

Posted 17 November 2012, 6:38 p.m. Suggest removal

(Kris Hammond) KrisHammond says...

Barkey answers only to the voters of the 14th Judicial District. Other DAs in CO (Boulder and others) have decided to stop prosecuting mj cases.

Posted 17 November 2012, 6:42 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

There is also the basic ethical question of whether it is fair to punish someone for something that is currently legal. If the public has decided to repeal a law then the public said there was something wrong with that law. Thus, why continue to enforce it?

Posted 17 November 2012, 7:02 p.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

Thanks, Kris. I wasn't sure if DA's are appointed at first and then reelected or what; I don't recall any hotly-contested DA campaigns, so is it a matter of us just affirming them? I don't recall seeing that on the recent ballot, but I easily could have missed it, my dealings with such folks being limited lately (ADA (Longnecker?) was accommodating).

When is this guy up for affirmation? And let's remember this, eh voters?

Now the Nuggets trail in San Antonio, and it appears they need my undivided attention.

Sorry, Jerry.

Posted 17 November 2012, 7:03 p.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

Scott -- Following your logic just a little farther -- if a law is deemed unjust by the voters -- wouldn't it be just to exonerate anyone EVER convicted under that law?

Sure, see how far that kite flies.


Posted 17 November 2012, 7:16 p.m. Suggest removal

(mark hartless) markhartless says...

Flip this around.

A guy pays a 30% income tax rate this comming year, but the rate he legally should have paid was 40%.
The Infernal Revenue Service catches him paying the wrong rate.
Next year the legal rate is lowered to 30%, the rate he actually paid last year.
The law was changed to reflect the will of the people,
Do you clowns think he should not be prosecuted for income tax evaision?
Do you think he WILL not be prosecuted?

Posted 17 November 2012, 7:22 p.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

If he was supposed to pay 40%, he can probably afford Kris, and the point will soon become moot.

Kris pays his taxes, so they get it anyway, and everybody's happy. In this Society, Money Talks.
The Nugs were down by 23 a while ago, so I sat in my chair and watched intently -- soon they had reduced it to 13. Then I saw this. Now they're down by 19 again.


Posted 17 November 2012, 7:39 p.m. Suggest removal

(jerry carlton) jlc says...

Rhys Glad we are internet friends again. I agree with everything you said above except people are basically good. My book, you know the one, says people are basically sinners and need the forgiveness of Jesus Can millions and millions of people live good lives and be good people without believing in Jesus? Absolutely, but they are still sinners just like me.

Kris Do I think the DA is right? I really do not know. I just like to pull defense attorney's chains. I do not know you as a person but I might like you. I know two local attorneys and I like them very much as people. I do have a dislike of attorneys as a profession as that is mostly what the Senate and House is made up of and anbody can see what a great job they are doing. Most of them are bought and paid for by lobbyists. I also have a problem with someone who would go into court knowing someone is guilty and try to get them found innocent. Also as I mentioned earlier three guys who have a dog in the fight were after the DA and I was trying to even out the odds.

Posted 17 November 2012, 7:47 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

When the courts rules that a law is invalid then everyone jailed because of that law is set free. Morally and ethically, there should not be that great of a difference for those that have violated a law that was invalidated by the courts vs being repealed by the people.

That said, it only means those over 21 in jail for possession of less than an ounce would be released. Not sure how many are in jail for that petty crime.

Not that anyone is suggesting they be reimbursed for being jailed. Just that the law that affected them is no longer in effect so it isn't right to keep them in jail.

Posted 17 November 2012, 9:37 p.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

Jerry -- Ever see "In Search Of"? In one episode Leonard Nimoy narrated and documented, a very credible hypothesis was proposed that the human race was the result of the aliens' attempts to breed with the apes -- providing the missing link -- and possibly explaining some eerie events in the Bible. Ever read "Chariots of the Gods"? Another old classic. "Seth Speaks" makes a lot of sense. And it still all fits together.

Posted 17 November 2012, 9:54 p.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

Scott -- I was largely playing Devil's Advocate there, as my own particulars make the point moot.

But now that you brought it up... think I could recover damages for the time we were in the alley after closing time, the cop didn't like our looks, ran our ID's, and my name had a warrant -- seems the proof I had completed my public service by the deadline in Archuleta County (Wolf Creek winter) was waylaid at the public-service office by Freshie's, and not on the Judge's desk -- so I spent a weekend in our new facility, my first visit there, before we could straighten it out Monday morning. How much is THAT weekend worth? I had big plans, up at Steamboat Lake.

Think that's bad, how about my cousin down in Texas? You may recall my earlier visit there last summer -- how I was living on his boat for a while -- which is not in Harris County -- where he is required to reside (prior difficulties, true frame-up, never mind) and the feds took pictures in my absence proving SOMEBODY was living on that boat -- must be him -- so after I was gone, they threw him back in the can, where he's been for three months now, awaiting a grand jury, despite my submitting a notarized affadavit that that was ME living on that boat, clearly proving his innocence, yet there he rots... suggestions to his lawyer that there might be a civil action for malicious prosecution were met with a snicker, the implication being This is Texas, are you kidding?

How much is HIS time worth? And can you blame him for being disgusted with our judicial system? I can't.

Posted 17 November 2012, 10:21 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

After closing time an officer asks for the IDs of people hanging out in the alley? What is wrong about that? When you cooperate by showing your ID then it becomes much harder to say something was wrong. I think it would have been more interesting if you had agreed to leave without showing your ID.

As for your cousin, probation is more of a privilege than a right. Apparently, the police have enough evidence to convince a judge that he probably violated the conditions of his probation.

Posted 18 November 2012, 10:36 a.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

Scott -- My issue is not withthe ID check, which was proper -- it was the stale warrant, shouldn't have been on the books except for bumbling inefficiency, ended up costing me 2-1/2 days nobody can ever replace. Of course, my time is worthless, to them.

Re/cuz -- nope, that's all they've got, according to the lawyer.

Thank you again for your considered opinion, and may I say every jailhouse lawyer I ever met is more up on their statutes than you. You missed the first point, and made assumptions about the second. Too much coffee? But thanks for weighing in.

Posted 18 November 2012, 11:01 a.m. Suggest removal

(Kris Hammond) KrisHammond says...

Jerry: Chain pulled. Good one! I can take it. Keep them coming.
Rhys: In August or September 2012, then-DA Liz Oldham resigned before her term expired and appointed Brett Barkey DA. Exact dates are in the SPT. Barkey ran unopposed as a republican in the 2012 election.

Posted 18 November 2012, 4:13 p.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

So we couldn't find ONE DEMOCRAT who likes throwing people in jail?

Why do I find that symbolic?

Posted 18 November 2012, 7:11 p.m. Suggest removal

(Stephen CUNNINGHAM) SPC says...

Aren't there enough other things to keep the DA occupied than prosecuting people for something that voters in Colorado just decided is not worth using government resources for? Would you have also prosecuted black people for using white bathrooms even after Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned? Please re-focus on prosecuting criminals, instead of wasting resources to make what is ultimately a very small point.

Posted 18 November 2012, 8:32 p.m. Suggest removal

(mark hartless) markhartless says...

So there's not ONE DEMOCRAT that will protect law-abiding citizens from criminals?

Why do I find that symbolic?

Posted 19 November 2012, 9:27 p.m. Suggest removal

(Mike Isaac) MikeIsaac says...

I don't think people should worry about a local DA trying to get $100 fines from a few people in the 3 counties he serves. The Obama's Eric Holder is what people should worry about and Mike Riggs the UN drug czar who asked him to shred the US Constitution and force Washington and Colorado to comply with Federal and United Nations Law. Obama is a friend of the UN in a dangerous way and may even sign a Small Arms Treaty that would override the 2nd Amendment. If he would even consider such a move, what make you think his thugs would not unleash the feds for the sole purpose of seizing houses firearms and other assets?

Posted 27 November 2012, 7:47 a.m. Suggest removal

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