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LoDo Grand Jury Muzzled

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An assault that occurred on the 16th Street Mall (credit: CBS)

An assault that occurred on the 16th Street Mall (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4)- A Denver Judge has overruled a grand jury, and ordered their report related to a series of LoDo assaults, robberies and attacks sealed. Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey says he will appeal the judge’s ruling.

“We just feel based upon our analysis we need to do that,” Storey said Wednesday afternoon.

A grand jury, led by a Jefferson County special prosecutor, began probing the “wildings and racially motivated muggings” in September of 2010.

They began examining the conduct of the lead Denver Police Detective, Paul Baca, after evidence surfaced suggesting Baca exaggerated injuries in one of the attacks and fabricated evidence in another.

The grand jury could have asked that Baca be criminally charged. Instead, in completing their investigation, they issued a written report on the LoDo assaults that took place in the summer and fall of 2009.

“The grand jury concluded its investigation and requested a report be issued,” said Storey.

Multiple law enforcement sources tell CBS4 in that report, the grand jury is not asking for criminal charges against Detective Baca. Storey would not comment on that issue.

“A grand jury report was prepared and pursuant to statute,” said Storey, its reviewed by a judge, “to make a determination as to whether or not it should be made public. The Judge determined the grand jury report would not be made public. My office, the Jefferson County District Attorney, plans on appealing that decision.”

Storey said the Denver District Court Judge, Sheila Rappaport, issued her ruling yesterday, that the grand jury findings should not be released.

“During the investigation they (the grand jury), determined there were matters of what they felt were public interest that they wanted to be reflected in the report,” said Storey.

He declined to say what those issues were. Storey said his office would begin the appeal process “right away.”

Pam Russell, a spokesperson for the Jeffco D.A.’s office, said the grand jury issuing a report that then is put under wraps “is not the most common result.”

Harvey Steinberg, a Denver defense attorney, calls the sequence of events highly unsual.

“This happens once every ten to twenty years,” said Steinberg.

While he does not know the contents of the grand jury report, Steinberg speculates, “the grand jury probably issued an editorial statement about someone’s conduct or misconduct that could be damaging to that person and the Judge felt the grand jury’s role about people’s actions were irrelevant. It’s unusual for citizens who are placed in the role of grand jurors to take it upon themselves to comment on other people’s conduct,” said Steinberg.”So something triggered the passions of that grand jury.”

Denver Police spokesman Lt. Matt Murray said the department would not comment. “It’s a secret proceeding. We have no comment on the grand jury. We don’t comment on grand jury proceedings by law.”

Written by Brian Maass
http://denver.cbslocal.com/personality/brian-maass/

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