Democrat Kaitlyn Turner is running for district attorney in the 11th Judicial District.
Q Why did you go into the legal profession?
A I entered the legal profession because I wanted to serve others. I had always done well in school and I wanted to put my writing and analytical skills to work for others.
When I was in college, I worked in a couple different legal offices, and I learned that being a lawyer can be primarily about helping others through hard times.
As district attorney I now help victims and our community have a voice in court.
Q What have you been most proud of in your legal career?
A I am most proud of a pro bono appeals case I took on several years ago for an indigent client. My client was a mom who had been ordered to pay child support to her husband, who was given primary physical custody of the kids. Shortly after this order entered, however, the parents agreed to share physical custody evenly instead.
The problem was that the court’s child support order was never modified. Over ten years after the custody switch occurred, the Office of Child Support was trying to collect over a decade of child support from her that she should not have owed, yet the district court judge said she owed it.
I volunteered to help her by writing an appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals. We won our appeal and she was relieved of more than $30k in child support debt. She was immensely grateful because she could never have afforded to pay that debt.
I’ve kept her thank you card in my office for more than 7 years as a reminder of how attorneys can change people’s lives for the better.
Q What do you feel the role of the district attorney is?
A The role of the district attorney includes many responsibilities.
Not only are we responsible for prosecuting all level of criminal matters, we also work in juvenile law, mental health law and administer diversion programs.
The DA must also have experience in strategic planning and budgeting because we are expected to do a tremendous amount of work while also spending tax payer funds wisely. As DA I am responsible for having the highest level of professionalism and ethics.
The elected DA represents the face of the office which employs 30 people in our district. As the leader of the office, the DA is responsible for setting the tone for the office.
When I took over last year, I placed a lot of emphasis on working as a team with our law enforcement agencies and with each other.
Every day we are guided by the principle of doing the right thing and holding ourselves to the highest professional standards.
We must be the most prepared people in the courtroom. We are called upon to be assertive, be respectful and be champions for the truth.
Q What do you bring to the position?
A I bring 13 years of legal experience including work as an appellate lawyer, a constitutional lawyer, and a prosecutor.
I also bring 8 years of experience as a member of federal law enforcement.
I received some of the best prosecutorial training in the country when I attended the Department of Justice’s National Advocacy Center numerous times during the 8 years I worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
I bring experience as a city councilmember, which taught me so much about what’s important to our citizens and also how to set and follow a budget, which oftentimes includes making tough and sometimes unpopular decisions.
While I lead with empathy for others, I am not afraid to make tough choices when it comes to charging decisions or budgeting.
Q What do you hope to accomplish/change as 11th Judicial District DA?
A As District Attorney I want to show people that we can have professional leaders who are transparent, honest and ethical.
I’ve made a lot of progress in my first 15 months in office, but there’s always room for improvement.
Our primary role will always be holding criminals accountable for the harm they cause to our community.
My office’s relationship with law enforcement can continue to strengthen, which would allow us to build strong cases together and make our communities safer.
I’d like to see us form a regional drug task force to stamp out methamphetamine’s presence in our district. So much of our violent crime and property crime stems from methamphetamine use.
I don’t want to see another life lost from meth-fueled violence. These things can be accomplished when the DA has the trust of our law enforcement and our communities.
In light of recent comments/endorsements by district law enforcement and political committees, how important are political affiliations, experience and ability in carrying out the duties of DA.
Q Is any aspect more important that the others?
A I don’t believe party affiliation determines whether someone will be a good DA.
There are DAs across the state from both parties and also some who are not affiliated with a party.
When we meet as a board of all 23 DAs in the state, which we do once a month, party politics is not what drives our discussions.
Instead, concern for public safety, victims’ rights, and doing the right thing are paramount. What’s most important is a DA who has leadership experience, good judgment, and who can devise solutions to very complex problems.
While the public may view our cases as black and white, in reality almost no case is simple and straightforward.
A good DA must be able to see and understand all components of a case because having blind spots due to political leanings will harm the DA’s ability to successfully prosecute.
While it is important to have law enforcement support, the DA must also have the ability to act independent of law enforcement.
Good judgment and legal ability outweigh any sense of loyalty to any one party or ideology.
Q Why should voters choose you for the job?
A Voters should choose me to continue serving as DA if they are interested in a DA who will continue to give all it takes to do the job well.
I consider myself on-duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
When a person goes missing or a homicide occurs, I will continue to be on scene learning firsthand everything we need to know that will help us successfully bring a case to trial in the future.
When law enforcement has a question about what to do, they know they can reach me at any hour of the night and that I will answer and provide sound advice.
No one will outwork me and no one will be more dedicated to serving you with integrity and professionalism.
Q Anything else you want voters to know?
A Voters should know that I would not be running for this position if I did not firmly believe that I am the best person for the job.
For the past 15 months I have dedicated my life to doing the best job I can for the people in our district.
I have worked to overcome more than a decade of mistrust in the District Attorney’s Office by being transparent and willing to listen and make necessary changes. I don’t come to the job with a personal agenda.
I offered to be your district attorney because our community deserves a DA who puts the needs of the community ahead of partisan politics.