Legal Ethics

2 Colorado Judges Censured for Prosecutorial Work Years Ago

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Two former Colorado prosecutors who didn’t turn over potentially exculpatory information to the defense in a first-degree murder case have been censured for their role in sending a man who says he is innocent to prison for almost a decade. That man, Timothy Masters, was released earlier this year, after DNA evidence reportedly implicated other individuals.

Both Terrance Gilmore and Jolene Blair are now judges in the state’s 8th Judicial District, reports the Associated Press.

“In an agreement with the Supreme Court’s Office of Attorney Regulation, both acknowledged failing to ensure defense attorneys received several key pieces of information obtained by police that called into question Masters’ guilt. Prosecutors failed to gather the information from police despite indications that it existed,” the AP article explains.

The evidence issue came to light when Masters was granted a hearing in 2007 to determine whether a new trial should be held, after earlier appeals were unsuccessful, reports the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

The Coloradoan article also includes links to the newspaper’s extensive prior coverage of the case and a timeline of what happened and when.

Masters, who was 15 at the time a 37-year-old Colorado woman was murdered in early 1987, told investigators he had seen a mutilated body in a field behind his home. However, he didn’t report it immediately, he said, because he thought someone was playing a cruel trick on him with a mannequin.

He was arrested for her murder in 1998, based on circumstantial evidence.

“I don’t know what to say about that,” Masters told AP, after learning of the censures. “I spent 10 years in prison for something I didn’t do. It’s something, I guess.”

An attorney for the judges declined to discuss the censures with the Denver Post.

“The two censures are believed to be the first time sitting judges have been disciplined for actions committed before they took the bench,” the newspaper says.

Additional coverage:

Coloradoan: “State says judges Jolene Blair, Terry Gilmore ‘impaired’ fair trial for Masters”

CNN: ” Convicted by doodles, Masters is freed by DNA”

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