Following Colorado Media Matters item, Chieftain corrected misinformation about Ritter's plea bargains with immigrants

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

After Colorado Media Matters noted that The Pueblo Chieftain twice made false claims about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter's record as Denver district attorney, the Chieftain corrected the misinformation on October 12. However, that correction also contained an inaccuracy about Ritter's record.

After Colorado Media Matters noted that two Pueblo Chieftain articles (here and here) by reporter Peter Roper uncritically repeated false claims -- attributed to Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez -- about Democratic candidate Bill Ritter's record as Denver district attorney, the Chieftain corrected the misinformation on October 12. As Colorado Media Matters pointed out, Roper's October 10 articles uncritically repeated the false claims that Ritter plea-bargained "152 cases involving illegal immigrants who were not deported" and that "a recent Denver newspaper story show[ed] that Ritter had plea-bargained with 152 arrested illegal aliens." One of the articles also understated the total number of cases handled by Ritter's office.

From the Chieftain's October 12 correction:

Bill Ritter, the Democratic candidate for governor, prosecuted 38,000 cases while serving as Denver district attorney, not the 3,800 reported in Tuesday's newspaper. Also, the 152 cases of plea bargaining involving immigrants that were referred to in the story involved both legal and illegal immigrants, not just illegal immigrants. A reporter made the error.

However, the Chieftain's correction inaccurately stated that Ritter "prosecuted 38,000 cases while serving as Denver district attorney." Ritter served as Denver district attorney for more than 11 years, from June 1993 to January 2005; the 152 cases of felony agricultural trespass plea bargains in question occurred, according to a Denver Post investigation, during the course of seven years, "from 1998 through 2004." According to the Post, Ritter's office prosecuted 38,000 cases during those seven years. According to data released by the Ritter campaign, those 38,000 cases were felony cases. Therefore, as the Ritter campaign has pointed out, the reported 152 immigrant agricultural trespass plea deals amount to less than one-half of 1 percent of the number of felony cases Ritter handled during those seven years. During his entire term as Denver district attorney, Ritter prosecuted 61,960 felony cases.

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