Crime ruined our mini-vacation last April. It happened near the airport. 

We stopped for pre-flight grub at an attractive coffee shop. “Oh look, there’s a nice parking space on that side street.”

Trish and I thought our luggage and my laptop would be fine in the locked rental car. Think again. In the time it took to toast a bagel, smash-and-grab thieves had grabbed our goods.

We never saw the crook(s); only the broken glass and emptiness left inside. We were in Miami, returning from visiting our son Sam during his college freshman year. 

Police were called. Reports were completed. We fled Florida.

That horrible experience happens frequently in Colorado. Denver International Airport is an automobile nightmare. Our beloved state is suddenly renowned for inept football and car thefts.

We know how to fight crime. Hire good cops. Train and fund them well. Utilize modern technology. Put police on patrol. Arrest criminals.

Elect excellent district attorneys with wise discretion and talent sufficient to prove cases beyond a reasonable doubt. Judges should impose sufficient sentences to deter defendants properly convicted.

Our legislature should craft laws tough enough to deter crime. Colorado further needs top-notch appellate lawyers to defend criminal convictions and statutes. 

Gov. Jared Polis is liberal. Republican opponent Heidi Ganahl blames Polis for Colorado’s crime problems. Governors do select our judges. 

Regent Ganahl criticizes Colorado’s anachronistic misdemeanor car theft statute, applicable to only low-price automobiles. Colorado’s property crime statutes regularly take property values into major consideration.  

Stealing a million-dollar diamond is a class two felony. Swiping something worth under $50 is a petty offense. 

Colorado’s 18th Judicial District is Colorado’s most populous. Most of Aurora, and all of Douglas, Elbert, Lincoln and Arapahoe counties are contained within it. Since 2021, its new district attorney is John Kellner.

Unfortunately, crime has recently increased dramatically in Aurora and the 18th Judicial District. It cannot fairly be blamed on Kellner. A 2018 Trump backlash swept away competent Republicans, including the veteran Arapahoe County sheriff. Aurora’s recent police mismanagement has been disruptive and awful. 

Some prominent partisan Republicans (who know better) argue Kellner’s crime fighting skills make it essential he replace Phil Weiser as Colorado’s Attorney General. That’s interesting because crime-fighting is only one component of being Colorado’s lead lawyer

☀ MORE IN OPINION

Winning appellate arguments is the major criminal justice role of Colorado’s AG. It’s ideal if the elected AG possesses the talent demonstrated by incumbent Weiser, who magnificently argued an election integrity case in our nation’s highest court. 

Maintaining the rights of Coloradans, such as abortion rights, civil rights, consumer rights and voting rights, has been Weiser’s job, too. Kellner maintains that while he’s personally pro-life, he’ll follow Colorado law. 

Would Kellner work with some future Republican majority to craft laws criminalizing abortion? Kellner advocates that AGs lobby for criminal laws they favor. Realistically, Colorado’s AG has plenty to do without working the legislature.

Every lawsuit, and threat of lawsuit, involving Colorado becomes the AG’s responsibility. This means mountains of complex civil litigation and administrative proceedings. As an example, Colorado water law litigation has never been more important.

Former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter understands the different jobs of an AG and a DA. He’s taken note of Kellner’s accusations that Weiser is weak and inexperienced as regards crime-fighting.

It’s an extension of the five-year-long argument made by Kellner mentor and DA predecessor, George Brauchler, whom Weiser soundly defeated for AG four years ago.

Ritter, an Aurora native, knows about rapidly rising crime in the 18th Judicial District. The former Denver DA considers the attack to be “rock throwing by people who live in glass houses.”

He told me the “problem is attorney general candidates who run on crime and then have very little to do with actual prosecution, unless it is some special prosecution.” The AG maintains less than 1% of the state’s criminal caseload. 

No criminal docket exceeds the 18th Judicial District, which will be subdivided by 2025. Let’s assume for the sake of this column that Kellner is terrific at crime fighting. 

Would it be wise then for 18th Judicial District residents to vote Kellner in as AG, especially given the ease with which Polis is expected to defeat Ganahl? Do Republicans who voted for Kellner in 2020 want a Polis appointee as their next DA? What a wonderful Arapahoe County opportunity for a progressive prosecutor.

No one’s been caught for our Florida crime. I don’t blame Gov. Ron DeSantis or any AG in Tallahassee. Since April, Trish has sewn AirTags into new luggage so we can help police catch future crooks with evidence the local DA can use to convict. 

Sam Silverman is in Boulder now where we like him safe and close. Sadly, he’s living too close this month to violent crime scenes. It’s up to Boulder cops and the Boulder DA to identify, prosecute and incarcerate these violent criminals. Colorado’s AG must make those convictions stick on appeal. 

Consider ramifications and qualifications when voting for Colorado’s next attorney general. Put your best crime fighters on the field in Colorado’s big cities. Fill Colorado’s AG’s office with the finest appellate and administrative talent possible. 


Craig Silverman is a former Denver chief deputy DA. Craig is columnist at large for The Colorado Sun and an active Colorado trial lawyer with Craig Silverman Law, LLC. He also hosts The Craig Silverman Show podcast.

The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to opinion@coloradosun.com.

Craig Silverman

Special to The Colorado Sun Email: craig@craigscoloradolaw.com Twitter: @craigscolorado