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Public-safety pro running for Jeffco DA

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Weir hoping to replace term-limited Storey

By Emile Hallez

Staff Writer

Pete Weir spent three years presiding over thousands of cases as a state judge, a position many lawyers would consider the apex of a career.

But since stepping down in 2007 to accept a job as director of Colorado’s Department of Public Safety, Weir, 58, has carved out a divergent career path, one that he hopes will lead him to replace Scott Storey next year as Jefferson County’s district attorney.

Weir, who filed paperwork last December with the secretary of state to run for the elected office, began actively campaigning last month, kicking off his candidacy with a meet-and-greet event in Golden.

Though Weir, a Republican, has been registered for nearly 11 months, he is still running unopposed for the office in the November 2012 election. Storey, who was elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2008, is term-limited.

Citing three years as a judge, four years working in public safety and about 19 years as a prosecutor, Weir said a well-rounded career gives him unique insight into an office rife with responsibility.

“My entire professional career has been focused on public safety in one way or another,” Weir said. “There’s no greater honor than being able to represent the people of Colorado in a courtroom.”

Regarding Storey’s tenure, Weir offered no criticism. However, one difference in their approaches would likely be the amount of scrutiny focused on cases in the pretrial stage, he said.

“Part of what I would be advocating is additional discretion by the attorneys,” Weir said, noting that, in many cases, filing charges may be inappropriate, and that in others offering plea bargains would be better. “(In) the vast majority of cases there are mitigating circumstances that may merit a plea.”

He commended the current office for its focus on economic crimes, crimes against the elderly, and its support of alternatives to formal court proceedings, including the Recovery Court, an 18-month program that can drop charges for defendants who overcome drug and alcohol addictions.

“I bring a different background and experience to the office than Scott does,” said Weir, who is currently a senior deputy district attorney for the 1st Judicial District. “Scott has always been driven by doing the right thing, and that obviously will not change.”

Further, the two are in agreement about a somewhat contentious issue in the local justice system. Both take issue with the county’s recently implemented bail bond project, which requires all defendants to appear before a judge. Accordingly, judges determine appropriate bonds, which may correspond in part to individual defendants’ ability to pay. Bail bondsmen vehemently oppose the system, which has rid the county of its former bail schedule, a document that categorically listed bond amounts for most crimes.

But judges, including former chief district judge Brooke Jackson, strongly support the new system, which places more emphasis on pretrial services in supervising defendants.

“Pretrial services has an important role in supervising, but the bond industry also has an important role. … There’s no mechanism if (defendants) don’t show up in court,” Weir said. “I have not been convinced that the system we had previously was broken.”

Despite running as a Republican, Weir insists that effective district attorneys run apolitical offices.

“When you call a police officer, you don’t ask their party affiliation, and you wouldn’t do that with the DA’s office,” he said.

So far, Weir has raised between $11,000 and $12,000 for his campaign, he said.

Weir, the son of an Air Force father, was born in Tokyo. His family moved to Colorado in 1964.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a law degree from the University of Denver.

Weir and his wife, Susan, live in Golden. They have adopted two children, an 11-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter.

“I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of things, but I feel like I’m coming home to prosecution,” Weir said.

 

Contact Emile Hallez at emile@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22. For updates, check www.ColumbineCourier.com.