Close to two decades passed since Brett Barkey practiced law in a Colorado courtroom.
That streak ended Wednesday morning when Barkey, Moffat County's new felony prosecutor, handled a sentencing hearing for a convicted defendant.
It was his first day on the job, and the new prosecutor was thrown right into the lion's den.
"It was wonderful to be back in a Colorado courtroom, representing the people. ... It had been 17 years since I had that opportunity," said Barkey, the new chief deputy district attorney for the county's 14th Judicial District office.
"This is a return to where my roots are, really, and that's local law enforcement."
Barkey, 45, is a Denver native and an attorney with 20 years experience. He is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and has worked for the Colorado Springs district attorney's office, the U.S. Department of Treasury and the U.S. Marine Corps.
He also spent two tours serving the Marine Corps in Iraq.
Barkey replaces Moffat County felony prosecutor Russell Wasley, who left the district attorney's office in early May. District Attorney Bonnie Roesink praised Barkey as a replacement, saying her office is "lucky" to have him.
The professional appreciation is mutual.
Roesink "has a really terrific, professional team here," Barkey said. "Every person in the office is a really dedicated professional. ... There's obviously a lot to be done -- the office has been understaffed since my predecessor left. I wouldn't have it any other way."
Barkey said it was his goal to someday return to Colorado. Likewise, for getting back to public service.
"It's the right time of my life to come back, and I always intended to do that," he said.
"For me, the most exciting part of being in a district attorney's office again is having the opportunity to work with the community. That really is what motivated me the most."
Barkey said he would be a fair, yet stern prosecutor. His interest, he said, is always to protect the public's interest.
"That's what I seek -- what is fair for the community," Barkey said.
He also said he has no qualms about conforming with office protocol of seeking prison time for defendants convicted of selling methamphetamine. The drug harms the community, he said, and little quarter will be given to those convicted of profiting from it.
"I'll take a hard stand," Barkey said. "There won't be any change in our office policy."