Moffat County justice system is backwards

To the Editor:

Having just moved to Craig last July, I wanted to say that the area seems to be a very nice place to live. More importantly for me, I have found the people friendly and down-to-earth.

However, I feel compelled to comment on two recent events involving the local “justice” system.

The first concerns a child molestation case that involved legal authorities in Moffat and a neighboring county. Arriving in court early that day to show support for a friend, I just happened to be present when the sentencing for this case took place. From the start, one could tell that the judge had a pre-determined mindset in favor of only probation for the guilty.

While everyone has seen plenty of TV court dramas depicting how deals are cut and politics get involved, I was flabbergasted that a slap on the wrist was deemed appropriate. The perpetrator had abused a young grade-school aged child for years and would conceal his actions with bribes and/or threats.

It became very apparent that this was not a one-time mistake. Testimonies by the victim, victim’s father and most touchingly, by the child’s mother, reminded the court that the young individual would be effected both physically and emotionally for the rest of his life.

How the judge, prosecuting attorney and even the defense could agree on such a light sentence for such a devastating crime left me in a state of dire concern for the justice system.

And just when the effects of that case had began to settle in my mind, another hard-to-comprehend story of the local justice system occurred.

A county deputy was doing his job in responding to an emergency call when a man with a well-known family name slams into the side of the cruiser. At least three other cars at the intersection take notice of the emergency vehicle with it lights glaring and siren sounding off, but one driver is apparently not as observant and crashes into the deputy.

State law says that “Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle making use of audible or visual signals … the driver of another vehicle shall yield the right-of-way … any person who violates any provision of this section commits a class A traffic infraction. (CRS 42-4-705).”

However, the local authorities say to fine the deputy for doing his job? A relative was quoted recently saying his mind was boggled at what was happening and that he’d be damned as a taxpayer to agree to pay the associated legal fees.

I agree with him. My mind, too, is boggled. A law enforcement officer is doing his job, is broad-sided by another vehicle, the deputy gets a ticket, the other driver’s family is concerned about saving the taxpayers’ money, but not too worried about the large sums of money that will no doubt be sought from the county’s insurance?

Looks like politics and money still play a big part in the legal systems of the Old West.

Mark Nelson,


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