District attorney of Boulder County, Colorado | 2018

Boulder Democrats select county’s district attorney

Update (result): Michael Dougherty won the Democratic primary on June 26, virtually securing himself a full term as district attorney as he faces no named opponent in the November general election.

Original preview: On the trail and in the press, the main difference between the Democratic candidates for district attorney of Boulder County—state Representative Mike Foote and District Attorney Michael Dougherty, who was appointed to this position this year by Governor John Hickenlooper—would appear to be ones of style and emphasis. But noteworthy policy contrasts emerge in a series of thorough interviews in which the ACLU of Colorado and Yellow Scene magazine pressed the candidates for precise commitments. (You can listen to the ACLU’s interviews in full here and here, and read Yellow Scene’s here.)

In these interviews, Dougherty and Foote both back pursuing diversion programs for offenses like drug possession, limiting cooperation with ICE, and releasing demographic data on cases they process. But while they both espouse a goal of minimizing cash bail, they differ in their views of how to do so. Dougherty says that he “would like to” emulate other DAs who have instructed prosecutors to never seek cash bail for some misdemeanors; but Foote does not voice support for this when the ACLU asks him about similarly limiting his prosecutors’ discretion to seek cash bail, explaining that he would instead grant prosecutors “more discretion” to act as they deem wise in individual cases.

The two disagree as well over whether to compel the disclosure of closed police files once a police misconduct investigation is completed, with Dougherty but not Foote indicating support for state legislation that would have done so. In his answers to the ACLU, Dougherty also calls for the creation of a central database of police personnel files so that these remain accessible when an officer moves from one agency to another, and endorses methods of circumventing immigration authorities such as impromptu changes to court hearing schedules. On the campaign trail itself, the defining fault line has involved Foote’s promise to aggressively prosecute polluters for violating air and water quality; Dougherty holds that district attorneys have little authority over environmental crimes.

Published on June 25, 2018 (updated July 10) | Daniel Nichanian