New rules in 18th Judicial District to make felony prosecutions harder to suppress from public

The Denver Post: Prosecutors in Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties have implemented changes to reduce the number of felony cases that are suppressed from the public, and concede the process will help them learn just how many of the restricted cases they actually have.

The move is in response to a Denver Post investigation into suppressed court cases in Colorado that found hundreds of felony prosecutions — some of them for violent crimes — were kept from the public, and dozens of additional cases in which defendants were already convicted and sentenced.

Until The Post’s inquiry, district attorneys in the 18th Judicial District that includes the four counties had no idea just how many of their cases were kept under wraps, even though they had the most of any jurisdiction statewide.

But under a new policy issued by District Attorney George Brauchler, prosecutors cannot simply ask a judge to suppress cases, as had been the custom, but must first seek approval from the most-senior DAs and explain their rationale.

Suppressing cases had become so routinely approved that Brauchler’s office told The Post that it could not recall an instance where a judge denied one.

Under the new policy, the hope is that by October or November prosecutors will have a handle on just how many of their active cases are suppressed, according to an internal email shared with The Post that outlines the new procedures.

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