Steamboat Springs During the months that the Routt County District Attorney’s Office was down by one or two attorneys, teamwork was a basic tenet of survival to get the work done. Now that the office is back to full staffing with two new faces, teamwork is a tradition they hope to continue, lead attorney Rusty Prindle said.
After two attorneys left the office in September, 14th Judicial District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham offered voluntary budget cuts in Routt County to help alleviate budget woes and did not fill one of the positions.
That left only Prindle, deputy district attorney, to run the office with Oldham sometimes working in the office. Oldham also oversees the offices in Moffat and Grand counties. That system stood until Amy Richards was hired as lead attorney and began working Oct. 1. After six weeks, however, Richards left the office because of family reasons, Oldham said.
“We did put in extra hours, but everybody came together, and I’m proud of what everybody did,” Prindle said about the time when the office was short-staffed.
After Richards’ departure, Oldham promoted Prindle to lead attorney and hired Patrick Welsh, who had been working in the Craig office, and recent law school graduate Jennifer Wunsch, who was sworn in Tuesday.
With the staff back to the full four positions, Prindle said he and Oldham would handle major cases, Welsh will handle most District Court cases and some Routt County Court cases, and Wunsch will be in charge of the bulk of the county court cases.
Prindle said he would begin training and working with Wunsch to create a gradual transition until she can take over the caseload by herself. The office handles about 2,000 cases per year, and about 200 of them are felonies that require more time and attention, Prindle said.
Oldham and Prindle will handle the biggest cases, including the upcoming trial of Eduardo and David Capote, he said, while assisting the other attorneys.
Welsh has been living in Steamboat Springs and commuting to the Moffat County office, so the switch was a natural choice for him, Oldham said.
Wunsch graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder Law School in May and worked for an attorney in Boulder until she took the job in Steamboat. She said Steamboat has been like a second home for her, a place she often visited with family during the winter.
Prindle said the whole office interviewed Wunsch during her application process, not just the attorneys, because everyone in the office must cooperate to keep the cases moving.
“We looked for someone who is bright and intelligent, and someone who is a good fit for the office,” he said. “We work together very closely.”