DA pledges stiff policy on drugs

Bonnie Roesink is running unopposed for the office of the 14th Judicial District Attorney and she's advocating changes in how drug cases will be handled in the future.

Prosecuting drug cases, especially those involving methamphetamine, top Roesink's list of priorities in the coming years. If the evidence is strong in a drug case, plea-bargaining will no longer be an option, Roesink said.

She recognizes that the policy will likely result in more trials, since defendants won't be eager to plead guilty. But she's relying on her faith in the jury system.

"Hopefully juries will send a message loud and clear," Roesink said. "We have to send a message to the people making and distributing drugs that the 14th Judicial District is not the place to be committing these crimes."

Roesink already has served more than a year as the 14th Judicial District Attorney, although she has never been elected. She was appointed to the office by Gov. Bill Owens in February 2003 after her predecessor, Paul R. McLimans was appointed as a district court judge.

Roesink said she doesn't get to spend as much time in the courtroom now that she's in charge of District Attorney's offices in three counties. But she said she enjoys the new position and she's looking forward to shaping the policies by which prosecutors do business.

Roesink is looking for innovative ways to prosecute domestic violence cases, which are statistically very prevalent in the district, she said. She plans to work with law enforcement to build iron-clad cases even when the complaining witness won't testify, for example.

But while she speaks about being tough on serious crimes, she's also trying to take a realistic look at how to deal with the smaller ones. In Grand County, Roesink is implementing a pilot to deal with people who write bad checks in a way that can spare some offenders a criminal record while still securing restitution for those victimized.

Since Roesink was appointed mid-term, she could theoretically serve almost 10 years in office before the two-term limit applies.

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