Adams County DA District 17: AdCo DA race pits incumbent prosecutor against defense lawyer newcomer

    591

    Four years ago, the race to replace Don Quick as the top prosecutor in the 17th Judicial District didn’t get too much attention. In the Democratic primary that year, Dave Young sailed to the nomination unopposed. In the general election that fall he again breezed to victory as the Republicans opted not to mount a challenge. Four years later, it’s a different story. Young faced a tough primary that he won in June and now as the general election looms, Young is squaring off against Republican challenger Molly Falk Jansen, a defense lawyer from Henderson. The judicial district covers both Adams and Broomfield counties. For Aurora, any voters who live north of East Colfax Avenue on the Adams County side of the city get to vote.

    [srp display_thumbnail=”no” widget_title=”Recent Secretary of State Race News” widget_title_hide=”no” post_limit=”5″ post_content_type=”excerpt” post_content_mode=”titleonly” post_date=”no” post_author_url=”no” category_title=”no” post_category_link=”yes” category_include=”15105″]

    [wc_accordion collapse=”1″ leaveopen=”0″ layout=”box”] [wc_accordion_section title=”About the Race“]

    By BRANDON JOHANSSON, Staff writer

    AdCo DA race pits incumbent prosecutor against defense lawyer newcomer

    Battles between criminal defense lawyers and prosecutors are a common sight at any local courthouse.

    In the 17th Judicial District — which includes Adams and Broomfield counties — that battle will play out this fall on the ballot as well.

    Molly Jansen
    Molly Jansen

    Incumbent District Attorney Dave Young, a Democrat and a career prosecutor, is facing off against Republican Molly Falk-Jansen, a Henderson defense lawyer.

    For Young, the 2016 election is shaping up to be quite a bit different from 2012, when he won his first term in office.

    That year, he sailed into office without a challenger in the primary or general election.

    Dave Young
    Dave Young

    That hasn’t been the case this year: To win the chance to face Falk-Jansen, Young had to first beat former Adams County deputy district attorney and current Boulder prosecutor Karyn Datz. That race proved more difficult than expected, as Young lost the judicial district’s Democratic Party assembly and had to petition to get on the primary ballot before topping Datz in the May election.

    After his primary win, Young said the fact that voters chose him shows his four years as the top prosecutor in Adams County have been a success.

    One of the challenges district attorneys around the state will face going forward is deciding when they will seek the death penalty.

    In 2015, two Colorado juries opted not to sentence men convicted of mass killings — James Holmes in Aurora, who killed 12, and Dexter Lewis in Denver, who killed five — to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Death penalty critics have argued that those cases should at least give prosecutors pause if they consider the death penalty for killers whose crime may not have been as vicious as those two men.

    Young said he will consider those cases if he is faced with a death penalty decision, but will also lean on his experience prosecuting three death penalty cases in the past.

    “It is a factor that should be discussed with family members during the  decision making process,” he said.

    Jansen said that because the DA’s job is to enforce the state’s law, they need to be willing to consider the death penalty as long as it is the law.

    “As DA, I will apply the laws of the state based upon the facts and in consultation with the members of my office and the impacted family and friends of the victims,” she said.

    Jansen has spent her career as a criminal defense attorney, not as a prosecutor. Young has pointed that fact out during the campaign and has also pointed to his more than two decades as a prosecutor, first in El Paso County and then in Adams County.

    Jansen said her outsider status is an asset to her, not a detriment.

    “Due to my criminal defense background, I bring to the (17th Judicial District) and the office a unique insight and experience within the judicial system that has been lacking and will be highly beneficial to law enforcement and the community,” she said.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Dave Young’s biography“]

    Even before he was elected district attorney four years ago, Dave Young was a familiar face to Aurora voters. As a deputy under former DA Don Quick, Young prosecuted several high-profile Aurora case, including the man who gunned down an Aurora police officer in 2006. Before coming to the 17th Judicial District Young was a prosecutor in El Paso County where he prosecuted multiple death penalty cases.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Molly Jansen’s biography“]

    Molly Falk-Jansen is something of a newcomer to Adams County politics. A defense lawyer with a law firm in Denver, Falk-Jansen is making her first run for elected office. She has owned and managed her own law firm for 13 years. During law school she worked for a time at the Jefferson County district attorney’s office.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Dave Young’s issue questions and responses“]

    What makes you the most-qualified candidate? Twenty five years experience as a prosecutor. Four years experience as the elected district attorney for the 17th Judicial District. Track record as the current district attorney is leading one of the most successful DA’s office in the state.

    How will the decisions by two Colorado juries who opted not to sentence mass killers to death last year effect the way you make death penalty decisions going forward? Having the experience of personally trying three death penalty cases along with the above outcomes is certainly critical in making the determination to seek the maximum penalty under Colorado law. It is a factor that should be discussed with family members during the decision making process.

    How can the DA’s office work to reduce court crowding and prosecutor overload? By treating everyone with respect and dignity in making a fair plea offer as soon as possible, so that cases can be disposed of appropriately and do not languish in the court system. Follow our diversion model for both adults and juveniles to keep individuals out of the court system that do not need to be there.

    Should the DA’s office continue its support of the fledgling problem-solving courts focused on defendants with drug abuse and mental health issues? Should the DA’s office work to decrease jail and prison time for non- violent offenders to save money? Absolutely. This is something that our office is recognized for. As the chair of our 17th Judicial Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee (CJCC), we are addressing these issues and are recognized throughout the state for our innovative measures for improving the criminal justice system,

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Molly Jansen’s issue questions and responses“]

    What makes you the most-qualified candidate? Over my 13 years of practice, I have experienced the best and worst sides of the judicial system in Judicial District 17.  My extensive experience in the district has made it abundantly clear that there is a need for fundamental change in the district attorney’s office. My opponent has made an issue out of the fact I am a criminal defense attorney and that this somehow disqualifies me from the position of DA. Obviously, this is incorrect and, frankly, I believe, worries him. Due to my criminal defense background, I bring to the district and the office a unique insight and experience within the judicial system that has been lacking and will be highly beneficial to law enforcement and the community. The office of district attorney is the “gatekeeper” to the judicial system and with that, there is a fundamental obligation in providing the highest level of safety to the community and its citizens while protecting the constitutional rights of those in the judicial system. I am dedicated to enforcing the laws of the district and Colorado in a fair and just manner and am committed to the absolute need to protect the community, particularly the children, and to create strong, trusting and communicative relationships with law enforcement. These relationships have, at best, been strained under the current DA, if not lost.

    How will the decisions by two Colorado juries who opted not to sentence mass killers to death last year effect the way you make death penalty decisions going forward? First and foremost, my job and oath as DA is to apply the laws of the state of Colorado and follow the constitution. Obviously, the state continues to have a death penalty statute. As DA, I will apply the laws of the State based upon the facts and in consultation with the members of my office and the impacted family and friends of the victims.

    How can the DA’s office work to reduce court crowding and prosecutor overload? A key component to my leadership at this office will be forging strong relationships with law enforcement and the community by evaluating and improving youth and adult intervention programs and post-conviction rehabilitative programs. Through productive collaboration, I will strive to unite the community as we work together from the bottom up, to protect the safety of our community, unlike the current top down approach. It is vital to have proportionate plea agreements contemplating appropriate sentences that will reduce recidivism rates and reduce overall spending. I am committed to uniting our counties while restoring trust in the district attorney’s office and its ability to provide a more efficient judicial system and district — unlike that of the current office, in which it has been inconsistent and lacking in its approach to sentencing and alternative programs to reduce recidivism rates.

    Should the DA’s office continue its support of the fledgling problem-solving courts focused on defendants with drug abuse and mental health issues? Should the DA’s office work to decrease jail and prison time for non- violent offenders to save money? Understanding that whether it’s members of the community, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys or others involved in the judicial system, there is always the necessary concern and focus on the cost of the system and the resulting decrease in recidivism. The “problem-solving” courts are able to provide necessary rehabilitative services for some defendants, but, to be clear, there are defendants that will not benefit from these programs and will abuse the provided opportunities — it is crucial that there is ongoing oversight and support given to each case to ensure that these resources are appropriate and not simply a quick fix for all defendants. These programs are a progressive approach in improving the overall judicial system post-conviction, but we must carefully balance the application and costs if recidivism is not continuing to decline.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”LIGHTER SIDE: Dave Young’s personality questions and responses“]

    What food do you hate most? Liver.

    Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? No.

    Who would play you in a movie about your life? Johnny Depp.

    What Olympic Sport so you wish you could win gold at? Soccer.

    What was your favorite childhood candy? Snickers.

    If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? 2010 World Cup Soccer final.

    If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? Hombre.

    If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. “Happy,” By Pharrell Williams.

    What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? Fair man, loving husband and father.

    Is a hot dog a sandwich? No.

    What is the last concert you attended? 21 Pilots.

    What movie do you never tire of watching? “Princess Bride”

    Dogs or cats? Dogs.

    What’s the most overrated thing about living in Colorado? Marijuana.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”LIGHTER SIDE: Molly Jansen’s personality questions and responses“]

    What food do you hate most? Yogurt.

    Do you indulge in recreational marijuana? No.

    Who would play you in a movie about your life? Kristen Wiig.

    What Olympic Sport so you wish you could win gold at? Mogul skiing.

    What was your favorite childhood candy? Haribo Gummi Bears.

    If you could be an eyewitness to one event in history, what would it be? D-Day.

    If the Secret Service gave you a code name, what would it be? Shark Eyes.

    If you had to sing karaoke, what song would you sing? Car karaoke counts. “Son of a Preacher Man”

    What epitaph would you like written on your tombstone? We have to live the dream, not just dream.

    Is a hot dog a sandwich? No.

    What is the last concert you attended? Meghan Trainor.

    What movie do you never tire of watching? “Saving Private Ryan”

    Dogs or cats? Dogs.

    What’s the most overrated thing about living in Colorado? As a native of Colorado, nothing.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Dave Young’s campaign finance“]

    Click here for Dave Young campaign finances

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Molly Jansen’s campaign finance“]

    Click here for Molly Jansen campaign finances

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Dave Young’s endorsements“]

    Not available.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [wc_accordion_section title=”Molly Jansen’s endorsements“]

    Not available.

    [/wc_accordion_section] [/wc_accordion]