Yes, George Brauchler Is Damaged Goods Now

UPDATE: Via Jason Salzman, Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler goes off the rails today on talk radio, blaming pretty much everybody but himself for losing the death penalty case. Safe to say this was not his finest performance–a telling look at what happens when the shine comes off the “golden boy.”


Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler.

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler.

As word spread on Friday that the jury in the Aurora theater shooting trial would not sentence the shooter to death, we noted via Twitter that this result is a major defeat for Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler. Brauchler’s higher political ambitions are very well known, after he was mentioned as a potential GOP challenger to Gov. John Hickenlooper last year–and as Republicans have faced big problems finding a candidate to run next year against incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet, Brauchler’s name has been invoked in that race as well.

It’s not that we were trying to be crass about this story. We’re a political blog, and politics is the angle we are expected to take on the events of the day.

As our friend Lynn Bartels suggests above, the verdict in the Aurora shooting case could have gone either way–and might have had very different political implications had the jury chosen to recommend a death sentence. But the fact is that Brauchler did pursue the death penalty despite an offer from the defense of an uncontested sentence of life in prison with no possibility of release–and that unsuccessful pursuit of death for the Aurora theater shooter extended the pain and expense of the process by over a year and millions of dollars.

Friday evening, 9NEWS devoted a news story entirely to the Tweets of Jordan Ghawi, the brother of Aurora shooting victim Jessica Ghawi, in which Jordan Ghawi condemned Brauchler’s “political ambition trumping reason.” After the verdict, Ghawi thanked jurors for “letting reason and not emotion guide you in your decision.” Naturally, opinions vary markedly among survivors and family of Aurora shooting victims as to whether or not the killer should have been sentenced to death. But Ghawi’s powerful statements against more killing in response to the death of his sister, and calling out of the “political ambition” that drove the decision to seek the death penalty, at least partly deprive Brauchler of the ability to claim the moral high ground now that the killer has been spared.

Indeed, the only real story of misconduct related to the Aurora shooting trial involves Brauchler himself. During the trial, Brauchler was harshly criticized by Judge Carlos Samour for Tweeting about the trial from the courtroom. Brauchler’s ill-advised Tweets violated the judge’s order against social media from the courtroom, led directly to the dismissal of three jurors from the trial, and was later the subject of a complaint filed with the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel. Republican defenders of Brauchler tried hard to downplay this incident, but after jurors were dismissed over it, there was little for Brauchler to do but take his lumps.

Politically, that misstep might have been forgotten basking in the “glory” of a death sentence, but Brauchler did not win a death sentence. The additional months and millions of dollars spent “needlessly” at trial, as Jordan Ghawi put it, were all for naught. In the end, it doesn’t really matter if you supported the death penalty in this case or opposed it. Today the story is only that the Aurora shooter will not be executed, and that Brauchler had some moments of bad publicity on the way to losing the death penalty case.

No matter how much you may like Brauchler, feel like he did the “best he could,” or (the one that probably matters most) need him to shore up a dwindling Republican bench in Colorado, this outcome does not set Brauchler up to run for higher office.

And we all know it.

17 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Zappatero says:

    Don't give a hoot about this dude.

    Give a hoot about this:

    "We’re a political blog, and politics is the angle we are expected to take on the events of the day."

    Still mystified about the insistence that you only do "politics" and not policy, except, well, when a, b, or c happens and you feel like covering policy. (And even then it's mostly Republican policy.) Still mystified that you are able to draw a distinct line between politics and policy, and why it seems the base assumption must always be R=Bad and must be criticized; D=Good and should not be criticized except under the most egregious circumstances.

    A lot of the time bad policy is bad politics and it should be criticized, no matter who proposes it.


    • JeffcoBlue says:

      The "most egregious circumstances?" From what I've seen, Colorado Pols is very upfront going after Dems in the legislature who betray their principles. I think your criticism is more that they spare Bennet criticism sometimes, and perhaps Obama too.

      You may be right some of the time, but I think it's more that Pols is focused on the local level. Or, maybe they're just a little more moderate on national issues? Either way I don't think it's a matter of egregiousness.

    • BlueCat says:

      Bullshit, Zap. Plenty of Dem policy and Dem pols come under criticism here. All ColPols is saying is that, this being a political blog, don't get your undies in a bunch because this tragedy is being discussed from a political point of view. There will always be focus on political angles, on the way various political actors act and react because this is a political blog. 

      As far a egregious you may have noticed we don't all agree with one another on what constitutes the egregious. We all don't even seem to agree with ourselves on what constitutes egregious, some of us finding the same actions more or less egregious depending on whether they come from a pol we like or pols we don't like so much. It's certainly not your role, much less the role of ColPols, to make those decisions on how we view policy or pols for us.

  2. Moderatus says:

    You're the ones playing politics with this tragedy. Shame on you, Colorado Pols.

  3. bullshit! says:

    Personally, I'm inclined to believe that Brauchler would have pursued the death penalty even if he had no higher political aspirations. As a Republican DA, it would have been politically suicidal to not try to kill the Aurora shooter.

    Having said that, Brauchler's fuckups during the trial and losing the death penalty phase screw him politically, totally agree. Without bagging the Aurora shooter, he's just another GOP blowhard, and add the misconduct to the defeat and he's done for at least for 2016. Maybe he'll get another chance to judicially kill someone in time to run for Gov.

  4. Craig says:

    Let me be perfectly clear.  George Brauchler should be run out of town on a rail.  To spend millions of dollars and put the families through all the pain and suffering of a trial, not to mention the community is unforgivable.  This was nothing but politics.  He knew that the odds of a death sentence were as close to zero as is possible.  He got outplayed and outworked by the defense right from the beginning.  He's an embarrassment to everyone.


    But, Hickenlooper should put an end to all this nonsense and expense.  He should commute all those on death row to life in prison without parole and he should let all DA's in the state publically know that even if they get a death sentence Hick will commute every one of them.


    Won't some please save the budget millions and millions of dollars, not to mention the agony of everyone, especially the victims and family members of victims.


    Enough is enough.  Does anyone have the balls to do this?  I bet not. 


    I can hardly wait until Brachler claims to be a fiscal conservative.  He'll be a liar having now spent millions of taxpayers dollars to aggrandize himself.  Won't the voters of the 18th Judicial District please elect a DA who has some common sense.  Your last two have been among the worst ever.

  5. ZMulls says:

    This might cause him a bit more trouble next time around, especially if he tries to play the staunch Catholic card:

    "Therefore, all Christians and men of good will are called today to fight not only for the abolition of the death penalty, whether legal or illegal, and in all its forms, but also in order to improve the prison conditions, in respect of the human dignity of the persons deprived of freedom."

    That's Pope Francis.

    • BlueCat says:

      The right is so done with Pope Francis. On the bright side, now they can end their alliance with Catholics and go back to hating them like good rightie Protestants always used to back when Catholics, mainly Democratic, were just another flavor of "those" people. "Those people" used to include most Catholic ethnic groups, like Irish (need not apply), Poles, Italians, Mexicans as well as Jews… you know…  it wasn't just blacks getting crosses burned on their lawns.

      Of course this will be inconvenient for today's Republican Rightie "family values" Catholics. They can't be good righties without disowning the Pope and they can't be right with the Catholic Church headed by Pope Francis without disowning their hateful, screw the poor, screw non-Christians, screw the planet rightie pals. Quite the pickle.

      • MichaelBowman says:

        "Quite the pickle"

        I used this exact phrase on a friend of mine from Wray last week.  They are betwixt and befuddled. Ultimately, they will jettison the Pope (those who haven't already); all of this admonishment on living like Jesus is just too much. They are Chaput Catholics living in a Francis world.  

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account

You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.