by Marissa Lorenz
On Friday, July 17, Grand County Judge Nick Catanzarite issued an order denying
the most recent request by former Kremmling Police Chief Jamie Lucas and his council to dismiss charges or appoint a special prosecutor in the ongoing case indicting Lucas on 15 misdemeanor charges.
“The defendant’s claims that the DA has unfairly discriminated against him, or that the DA should be disqualified because of a personal interest or some other special circumstance are speculation and unsupported by the evidence,” concluded the order. “Therefore, the Court denies the defendant’s motion.”
The original motion was filed on June 15, by Lucas’ attorney, Jeffrey Eidness. It requested “that this case be dismissed in its entirety, with prejudice.” Alternatively, it requested appointment of a special prosecutor “for the specific purpose of avoiding any prosecutorial misconduct and as personal and special circumstances exist.”
The motion argued discriminatory or retaliatory prosecution and that 14th Judicial District Attorney Matt Karzen has a personal interest in the outcome of the case. It charged that the DA’s investigative and prosecutorial actions in the case are “unprecedented, not required by law, contrary to public policy, and completely defy the responsibility of the prosecutorial function.”
Karzen filed a response on June 26, stating that “the defendant has presented neither evidence nor relevant legal authority in support of his motion to dismiss.” He denied personal interest in the case and cited legal precedent demonstrating that “disqualifying a district attorney is a drastic remedy that should only occur in narrow circumstances.”
Catanzarite’s order is in line with the latter arguments, finding that the “defendant has failed to make a prima facie case for discriminatory prosecution.” It goes on to state that “the defendant has failed to meet his burden of showing the DA has a personal interest in the case that would prevent a fair trial” and that “the Court finds no special circumstances surrounding the DA’s prosecution of this case that would impair the defendant’s right to a fair trial.”
Maintaining his innocence, Lucas will now defend himself against the misdemeanor charges in front of a Grand County jury.
Those charges are related to official actions he took as Kremmling’s Chief of Police in
the latter part of 2019 and allege four counts of First Degree Official Misconduct for writing citations that would result in fines paid to the wrong entity, four counts of Second Degree Official Misconduct for initiating prosecution of a crime that occurred out of town limits, four counts of Official Oppression for issuing municipal summonses for offenses that were alleged to occur out of town, and three counts of False Reporting to Authorities for false statements Lucas allegedly made during investigation of his actions.
That investigation resulted in Karzen refusing to prosecute any cases involving Lucas and Lucas being put on administrative leave for four months, after which the Kremmling Town Council did not reappoint him as Chief of Police.
A jury trial has been set for October 13 and 14, and will be presided over by Judge Catanzarite in Grand County’s County Court.