Michael Stern's 33-year law career has taken him to an assortment of locales as both a prosecutor and defense attorney. Working in Moffat County as an assistant district attorney for the past year has been a part of that winding career.
But, the next step in the road is uncertain.
Stern, who began prosecuting cases in Moffat County in August 2005, submitted his letter of resignation Wednesday. His last day with the District Attorney's Office has not been determined.
"Essentially, I thought it was time to pursue other opportunities," Stern said. "There are offers out there in prosecution and private practice. I have not accepted anything specific."
Stern, who's prosecuted a wide array of felony cases in Moffat County including crimes ranging from drug offenses to violent acts, said he's weighing his options before deciding what to do next. He didn't rule out staying in the area to practice law.
He was complimentary of colleagues at the District Attorney's Office, local law enforcement and others working in the county's judicial system.
"I appreciate the opportunity to have worked in the District Attorney's Office," he said. "There are some great people working here, and I have a great respect for (them). I appreciate Bonnie (Roesink, district attorney) giving me the opportunity. She has been gracious with me.
"I think I am leaving on good terms and appreciate the opportunity to have served."
Stern, 58, has worked as a prosecutor in Guam, the Virgin Islands and Colorado's Seventh Judicial District. He also has experience as a defense attorney in Montrose.
He came to Moffat County after working for seven months as a weapons prosecutor on the Caribbean Island of St. Croix.
Stern's announcement comes on the heels of some slight changes to the configuration of the District Attorney's Office.
Assistant District Attorney Andy Heyl transferred to the Steamboat Springs office and Russell Wasley, an import from the Ninth Judicial District in Meeker, began work Tuesday to fill Heyl's old position in the Craig office.
It also comes a day after Stern argued on behalf of a stiff sentence for a Craig man who previously pleaded guilty to assaulting his girlfriend.
Stern said he'd put plenty of time into the prosecution of William Daniel Kilpatrick, who pleaded guilty in July to second-degree assault and second-degree kidnapping.
He said he wanted to see the case resolved before ending his tenure with the District Attorney's Office. On Tuesday, Kilpatrick was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the crimes.
Stern asked the judge for a 16-year sentence.
Seeing the case to its end falls in line with Stern's tough stance against violent crimes. As a prosecutor, you act on behalf of both the people and the victims, he said.
"I always took that extremely serious," Stern said. He added, "For me, it has always been very important to attack violent crimes vigorously."
Another case Stern said is memorable stems from a Decem--ber 2005 methamphetamine sweep during which officers from the Greater Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team arrested 15 drug offenders. Stern said the sweep exemplified local law enforcement's commitment to ridding the community of meth.
And, though he's prosecuted numerous meth offenders and secured them jail time, Stern said educating the public plays as important a role as law enforcement and prosecution in fighting the area's meth problem.
"It's going to be virtually impossible to punish and prosecute our way out of this problem," he said. "It's going to take a real community effort to educate people so they recognize this is poison. ... It is not a recreational substance. It is toxic and can change the whole tenor of the community."
Stern, who engulfed himself in community activities ranging from playing on recreational sports' teams to acting in local theater productions, said he's proud to have been a member of the community.
"I felt very fortunate to be an active member of our community," he said. "I think I got to fully enjoy a lot of things. ... That's the charm and beauty of living in a city like Craig."