Steamboat Springs The 14th Judicial District is seeking a special prosecutor to handle the DUI case of Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall.
Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James filed the motion for appointment of special prosecutor with the Routt County Court on Wednesday. If granted, Mark Hurlbert of the Fifth Judicial District would handle the prosecution of the case.
St. James said the appointment of a special prosecutor is required by law when a conflict may exist. According to the motion, "the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office and the Routt County Sheriff's Office routinely cooperate in the prosecution of criminal cases. Public confidence in the judicial system would be enhanced by the prosecution of this case by a district attorney's office other than the 14th Judicial District."
The Fifth Judicial District includes Eagle, Summit, Lake and Clear Creek counties. Hurlbert has experience handling high-profile cases - he is best known for prosecuting the case against NBA star Kobe Bryant. Hurlbert did not immediately return a phone message left at his office Wednesday afternoon.
Wall is scheduled to appear in court at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 8, 2008, for an advisement hearing. Ron Smith, the Steamboat Springs attorney representing Wall, declined to comment about the case Wednesday.
Wall was in his unmarked county vehicle when he was pulled over and charged with DUI and prohibitive use of a weapon Saturday night.
Colorado State Patrol Capt. Brett Williams said Wall was heading west on U.S. Highway 40 near Walton Creek Road when Trooper Melissa Fowler passed him heading in the opposite direction. Williams said Fowler turned around and stopped Wall because he failed to dim his headlights. State law requires that drivers dim their headlights when approaching vehicles are 500 feet or closer.
"That's a common stop," Williams said Wednesday. "That's not a targeting stop."
Williams said he couldn't discuss the interaction between Wall and Trooper Fowler during the traffic stop. He also wouldn't say at what point Trooper Brett Hilling was called to the scene and his involvement during the traffic stop.
A Sheriff's Office employee provided Wall and his girlfriend a ride home. Williams said he didn't know the identity of that employee or whether he or she was on duty at the time.
Wall has declined to comment about the case other than to say his ability to drive was not impaired and that he didn't take any sobriety tests.
"I have said I didn't drink anything in excess that would have affected my ability to drive," Wall said Monday. "I certainly was not intoxicated."
Sheriff's Office policies allow certain employees to use their vehicles when off-duty. The policy also permits those employees to have non-Sheriff's Office employees as passengers.
Sheriff's Office policies also cover the use of alcohol by off-duty personnel. According to the "Code of Conduct" policy: "1. Employees, while off duty, shall refrain from consuming alcoholic beverages to the extent that the consumption results in behavior which tends to discredit the Sheriff's Office or renders them unfit to report for the next tour of duty; 2. Employees shall not publicly consume alcoholic beverages wearing any apparel identifying them as Sheriff's employee; 3. Officers shall not wear any type of firearm while consuming alcoholic beverages."
Wall hasn't said whether he consumed any alcoholic beverages Saturday night. The prohibitive use of a weapon charge was made because it is illegal to possess a weapon when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is not known whether Wall was wearing his firearm at the time of the traffic stop or whether it was simply in his sheriff's vehicle.
The State Patrol's investigation into the incident is complete, Williams said. The State Patrol's investigation reports will now be turned over to the District Attorney's Office.
The charges of DUI and prohibitive use of a weapon are Class 1 misdemeanors.
"A summons or arrest is basically an assessment of the charges," Williams said. "You're not guilty of anything at that point. That's up to the DA's Office and the courts."
Williams said he is confident his officers handled the stop appropriately.
"I have full faith in my troopers," he said.
The Sheriff's Office has launched an internal affairs investigation to determine whether Wall violated any policies or procedures. Sheriff's Office Investigator Ken Klinger said Wednesday he was still waiting for the reports from Colorado State Patrol. According to a Sheriff's Office policy, the internal affairs investigation must be completed within 30 days.
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