The U.S. Attorney's Office will represent at least one of nine police officers cited for contempt of court for not complying with a Routt County Court order to return medicinal marijuana to its owner. The drugs were seized during a search of a Hayden man's home in mid-October.
The case has highlighted a conflict between a voter-approved state law allowing medicinal use of marijuana and federal laws that do not permit such marijuana use.
Jeff Dorschner, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said his office represents the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in all court matters and so would be representing Doug Cortinovis, a DEA special agent who participated in the search.
The other officers involved were either officers with GRAMNET -- the Grand, Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team, a federal task force made up of local officers -- or Hayden police officers. All the officers cited were directed to appear at county court at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 2 to show why they should not be punished for defying the court order.
Dorschner could not confirm which officers other than Cortinovis the U.S. Attorney would represent because that decision is not yet official.
"It is my understanding that the other officers have requested representation and there is a special process through the Department of Justice in Washington to authorize our representation of them, and that process is ongoing," Dorschner said.
Deputy District Attorney Marc Guerette, who initially represented the officers, said the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office is not involved at this point.
The GRAMNET officers who are cited and who could be represented by the U.S. Attorney's Office are Dan Kelliher of the Routt County Sheriff's Office, Dwight Murphy of the Steamboat Springs Police Department, Mike Lovin of the Grand County Sheriff's Office, Jenny Hoefner of the Craig Police Department and Todd Reese of the Moffat County Sheriff's Office.
Hayden officers who also received citations are Chief Jody Lenahan, Ed Corriveau and Darin Falk.
Lenahan said the U.S. Attorney's Office had offered to represent the Hayden officers, but that they have to go through their insurance company first to determine whom their lawyers should be.
Hayden Mayor Chuck Grobe confirmed that the town is working with its insurance company, and said that he couldn't remember a time when Hayden officers had been held in contempt of court.
"They got involved (in the search) because it was in our jurisdiction, and GRAMNET just asked for their assistance," Grobe said. "I'm sure our officers will be exonerated when it's all said and done."
The officers were cited after 2 ounces of usable marijuana and smoking pipes were not returned to Hayden resident Don Nord, 57, who has a medicinal marijuana license. The drugs and equipment were ordered to be returned by a county judge. The equipment was returned in late December.
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