Legal fight looms over release of records detailing state’s cost to defend Michael Blagg

From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction):  A legal fight over expense records for Michael Blagg’s state-funded criminal defense was unresolved on Friday, with a deadline looming this week.

The Mesa County District Attorney’s Office has issued a subpoena, returnable on Tuesday at the Mesa County Justice Center, seeking the production of “any/all invoices, bills, checks, lists of payments for non-salary costs” incurred by the Colorado Public Defender’s Office from Blagg’s defense during his 2004 murder trial, in addition to 2013 expenses in seeking a new trial for Blagg.

The information is sought as costs are tallied ahead of sentencing in the contempt case of ex-Blagg juror Marilyn Charlesworth, whose actions were blamed for forcing a second trial in the Blagg case.

Public defenders argue cost records for Blagg’s defense are “confidential” and “privileged,” but prosecutors scoff at the notion.

“The prosecution’s efforts to assess costs against Ms. Charlesworth in a contempt proceeding cannot take precedent over Mr. Blagg’s rights under the Sixth Amendment or counsel’s obligations under (rules of professional conduct),” Grand Junction public defender head Steve Colvin wrote in a 
motion, seeking to quash the DA’s subpoena.

The lawyer added, “The court should give some serious consideration to the ramifications of enforcing a subpoena to produce where the prosecution seeks production of information from the file of defense counsel in a pending homicide case.”

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