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August 31, 2015 12:14 PM UTC

This Really Isn't That Complicated, Brauchlerites

  • by: Colorado Pols

George Brauchler and TwitterThis is not a story about the death penalty.

This is not a commentary on the American legal system.

This is about a very simple, logical, and straightforward concept that seems to be eluding Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler and his political defenders who have been working hard to move the goalposts in the wake of the Aurora Theater Shooting Trial. Brauchler did not get the outcome he was seeking in the trial, and any attempt to spin this as something other than a political loss is nonsense.

We normally don’t pay much attention to the inane crayon scribbles over at Colorado Peak Politics, but their recent rantings about Brauchler and his political future are actually a pretty good example of the absurdly illogical spin that we’ve seen in the last week or so.

We’ve written several times in this space that Brauchler’s political future was dealt a severe blow when an Aurora jury declined to recommend the death penalty for convinced shooter James Holmes (Judge Carlos Samour Jr. ultimately sentenced Holmes to 12 consecutive life sentences, and another 3,318 years in prison for good measure). The politically-ambitious Brauchler made a controversial decision last year to seek the death penalty for Holmes instead of accepting a plea deal that would have sent Holmes to prison for the rest of his life. Reaction was mixed to Brauchler’s decision, because accepting a plea agreement would have saved millions of dollars in taxpayer money and spared some of the victims and their families who didn’t want to relive that fateful night in July 2012.

Politically-speaking, Brauchler had a lot to gain from a successful death penalty prosecution, and you can’t seriously argue otherwise. It’s only logical, then, that Brauchler would lose some political luster if he did not get the verdict he was seeking. We’re not talking about anybody (other than Holmes) being viewed as a moral loser here — this is strictly politics, laid out from the perspective of a political blog

…Which brings us back to Colorado Peak Politics:

If Brauchler is a “loser” (he’s not) because the Theater Shooter received life in prison instead of death, then so is Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey. Yesterday, a jury similarly rejected the death penalty for a case Morrissey was trying against Dexter Lewis, who murdered five people at a bar in Denver, and, then, set a fire to cover up the crime.

What's that know, the word that is opposite of "win"?
What’s that word…you know, the word that is opposite of “win”?

First of all, we should point out here that Denver DA Mitch Morrissey did not, in fact, lead the prosecution’s case against Dexter Lewis. Morrissey no doubt supported the efforts of the two Deputy District Attorneys who handled the case, but unlike Brauchler, he did not handle the trial personally. Also unlike Brauchler, Morrissey has not been jockeying for higher political office. Both Brauchler and Morrissey do have the title of “District Attorney,” but that’s about where this comparison ends.

Look, Brauchler sought the death penalty — and the attention from the trial — and if he had been successful, he would have been a big winner from a political standpoint. But he didn’t. So he’s not.

We would say the same thing about anyone in a similar position — because that’s just the political reality of the situation. If Morrissey was actively pursuing higher office and made the decision to seek the death penalty in a high-profile trial he was handling personally, his political fortunes would rise or fall with the outcome of said trial. In politics, if you’re not up, you’re down. That’s the way it goes.

It’s not just losing the death penalty that hurts Brauchler politically — his handling of the trial and the subsequent media interviews are more than enough to mark an ‘X’ in the loss column. There’s a good reason why Brauchler goes out of his way in news interviews — again, and again, and again — to frame the trial’s outcome as the result of a decision made by a single juror. For example, here’s Brauchler on KNUS 710-AM last week:

“But for this one juror, I think folks would have said roundly, ‘Men, you did this case perfectly.”

Brauchler and his supporters seem to be entirely unconcerned about the prospect of using media coverage from the Aurora Theater Shooting Trial as a transition for a potential run for U.S. Senate. The fact that so many people are trying to pretend that the trial outcome was anything but a loss for Brauchler should speak for itself.



25 thoughts on “This Really Isn’t That Complicated, Brauchlerites

  1. I guess I'm a bit confounded.  Brauchler made this about himself.  He could have had a deputy prosecute the case, but he chose to take it up himself and push for the death penalty in the face of an offered plea that was the same as the actual result.  To be honest, the conviction was always a done deal– this was no OJ he was prosecuting.  The only un-predetermined factor was life or death.  Oopsie!

    I look forward to our Republic challenger and his "a noun, a verb, and the Aurora Shooter" campaign.  He'll go far (driving around in his car during the campaign).

  2. One thing we libs miss is that for the Repubs a loss is a good thing, a very good thing.  They've voted to repeal the ACA how many zillion times, just to bring back another loss to their base.  I read an article about resentment being the main motivator behind the Republican base, so handing them another failure just adds to the resentment.  See, if not for libruls, the real Amuricans could achieve something.  But the libs won't let real Amuricans do nothing. So keep them resenting the libs even more and keep them voting against their own best interests–like social security, Medicare, all the things that the Repubs want to abolish.

    Look at the righty heads sesplodin' because Obama dared to rename a mountain.  ( I always thought it was named Denali in any case.)

    I wonder if the Repub base is ever going to figure out that handing them failure after failure after failure just means their politicians are, ya know, failing.

    1. "righty heads sesplodin……."  Actually, things on PJ Media, a prominent right wing outlet, regarding the name change of Denali are rather quiet.

      I’ve been in the mountaineering field for a long time, altho have not attempted Denali, and I can’t recall the last time any mountaineer referred to the mountain as “McKinley.”  

      1. I believe the media is trying to make a big thing out of right wing opposition when it's mostly Ohio GOP pols who are ticked or claiming to be. Denali, as you note, has become a widely accepted way of referring to that mountain already and it's not as if McKinley is anyone's top choice for great president, even in Ohio. At best, opposition is mostly just part of the whole "If Obama is for it, we're agin it" GOP ethos and probably a lot more half hearted and short lived than head exploding.

    2. You're right, exlurker19.  The only way you can play the victim card is to convince yourself you have been victimized, even if it is self-inflicted.

      We've heard Moddy wailing and gnashing teeth enough to understand that.

  3. His constantly blaming it on "one juror" makes him look small and mean. That's the way the death penalty works. It a has to be unanimous. He knows that. It's perfectly OK for one juror to decide not to go along. In this case it may well have been as many as three. Two were still undecided when the decision was made that, as the one juror was definitely not going to be won over, there was no point in dragging it out any longer.

    It's entirely possible that those two would have come down on the side of the one definite no after more deliberation. Not that it matters because unanimity is required. Majority doesn't rule. Every juror has both the right and the e responsibility to make an independent decision, to resist coercion. less than twelve coming to the decision a prosecutor in a death penalty case requests is the prosecutor's failure. No one else's.

    Brauchler sounds like a person unfamiliar with the concept "the buck stops here" and all too willing to throw others under the bus. So, in addition to having flat out failed while raising questions about his motivation for pursuing this case despite the option for putting the perp away forever that was offered to him on a  silver platter over two years ago, he's now showing himself as someone who is not a man of courage or integrity but a whining excuse maker. 

  4. "But for one juror…" and lawyers wonder why people try to skin out of jury duty any which way they can. I'll bet that's the last time the unnamed (as it should be) juror or any of his fellows will be willing to serve, regardless of the nature of the trial. Well done, George. 

  5. If District Attorney Brauchler becomes the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, the Holmes case will fade to irrelevance in short order. Voters will not base their ultimate judgment and their vote on the outcome of the recent trial. Voters will judge Mr. Brauchler by what he proposes to do in the U.S. Senate.

    1. We don't see that happening, R36. Every single story written about Brauchler will ALWAYS mention that he prosecuted the Aurora Theater Shooting Trial. It's too interesting and relevant a point to get missed.

  6. This was a loss, and a big one, for Brauchler.  But drawing the distinction between him and Morrissey fails.  Morrissey lost, too.  He decided to seek the death penalty against Dexter Lewis, knowing the risk, knowing the cost, and knowing the facts.  He decided how the case would be staffed, even if not prosecuting it himself (which was probably a wiser decision than Brauchler's).  And he lost.  Perhaps Denver voters will choose their DA a little more wisely next time.  They could have had John Walsh (current U.S. Attorney).  They can have Michael Carrigan, who would be a great improvement.


    1. My head really wants to explode with all of this talk about how (either side) thought they needed to execute someone to be politically relevant. 

      1. But it's true. Remember Both Ways Bob's scare campaign last fall? His pathetic attempt to make Hick's commutation of Dunlap's sentence his winning ticket? 

    1. Since Brauchler is such good buddies with RMGO, I wonder if he attended John Guandolo's RMGO-sponsored training on how to racially profile Muslims. It would seem that any up-and-coming DA would want to suck up to the most racist and reactionary elements of his own party.


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