Despite his attacks on Ritter, Boyles did not ask Republican district attorney about her office's use of agricultural trespass pleas

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Despite the fact that he repeatedly has criticized former Denver district attorney and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter for agreeing to agricultural trespass plea bargains, 630 KHOW-AM host Peter Boyles did not ask Republican district attorney Carol Chambers about her office's reported use of the trespass charge in plea bargains.

During an interview with Republican district attorney Carol Chambers on his October 17 broadcast, 630 KHOW-AM host Peter Boyles did not ask Chambers about her office's reported use of the charge of agricultural trespass in plea bargains -- despite the fact that Boyles repeatedly has criticized former Denver district attorney and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter for agreeing to agricultural trespass plea bargains. Only a day earlier, Boyles had referred to Ritter's use of agricultural trespass pleas with immigrants as "one of my true new favorites" and had said Ritter is "a total lay-down."

Chambers has served as district attorney for Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln counties since 2005. She appeared on Boyles's show to defend herself against charges of official misconduct unrelated to her office's use of plea bargains.

The Denver Post reported October 1 that Ritter's office agreed to felony agricultural trespass plea bargains with legal and illegal immigrants in 152 cases from 1998 to 2004. That charge apparently helped legal immigrants avoid deportation. Boyles previously has cited Ritter's plea bargains as evidence that Denver is a so-called "sanctuary" city and as explanation for his endorsement of Republican Bob Beauprez for governor. On the October 16 broadcast of The Peter Boyles Show, Boyles stated:

BOYLES: So we have this race now: Congressman Bob Beauprez, former DA Bill Ritter. Ritter's a total lay-down. He's the guy that's gotten nailed for -- this is one of my true new favorites -- agricultural trespass. Making deals on illegals and others who were in the country doing what they may.

On October 12, the Rocky Mountain News published an article titled, "Others use farm trespass charge: Ritter not alone in letting immigrants plead to lesser count." The News reported that "Arapahoe County followed Denver in the use of the [agricultural trespassing] plea, with 71 cases since 1998."

Chambers was elected district attorney in November 2004 and took office in January 2005. Regarding the agricultural trespass plea bargains by her office, the News reported that in Arapahoe County, "[t]he use of the charge ... rose to 21 cases last year and 20 so far this year." The News further reported that "Chambers said she was not aware her deputies were agreeing to pleas of farm trespassing and sent a memo to them asking for details."

Boyles did not ask Chambers what, if any, "details" she had since received from her deputies. Nor did he ask her any other questions about her office's reported use of agricultural trespass plea agreements.

From the News article:

The News also reviewed the use of the trespassing charge statewide from 1998 to 2006. In all, 483 cases were sentenced under the charge in 38 judicial jurisdictions.

So far, 83 people have been sentenced under the charge this year, including 31 by Ritter's successor, Mitch Morrissey. That is on pace to reach 99 cases in 2006, more than the record 97 cases in 2004, state records show.

Beauprez said he would send letters to all district attorneys who have used the plea, asking them to stop. "I think it's absolute nonsense," he said.

Arapahoe County followed Denver in the use of the plea, with 71 cases since 1998. The use of the charge in the county rose to 21 cases last year and 20 so far this year.

However, Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers said she was not aware her deputies were agreeing to pleas of farm trespassing and sent a memo to them asking for details.

Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey said he was unaware of the plea until the recent controversy and would not use it to help someone maintain their legal status.

The office has no pleas to the charge this year and sentenced two people under the charge last year.

The News article also reported Ritter's statement that the felony agricultural trespass plea bargains did not help illegal immigrants avoid deportation:

Ritter and the district attorney's office have said the plea generally involved legal immigrants with green cards or visas and allowed them to separately plead their case against deportation before federal immigration officials. The plea did nothing to help illegal immigrants, Ritter said.

"An illegal immigrant is deportable whether they plead guilty to this felony or any other crime, even misdemeanors, even petty offenses," Ritter said. "It (the plea) was not used to preserve an arrangement where they could stay in the country."

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.