Tiipping the scales of justice

To the editor,

I have supported Ben Lammons’ candidacy for district attorney ever since he announced last August. Three reasons have compelled me to do so. First, experience: Ben has the most extensive experience and qualifications for the job, having been a prosecutor for 25 years in multiple jurisdictions, both state and federal, in Colorado, New Mexico and on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation.

Second, Ben’s balanced, thoughtful, pragmatic approach to criminal justice: Separate the hard-core criminals from the goofy redeemable kids; then go hard after the first to protect us all from violent predators while striving to drive the second toward rehabilitation and re-entry into family and community. This has been the gist of Ben Lammons’ work on the Southern Ute Reservation.

The third reason is unfortunate but alas cannot be ignored: The relentless abusive attacks on Lammons and his record by surrogates of the other candidate, all of them well-plugged into the Durango Dem establishment. These surrogates have apparently concluded that praising their chosen candidate is not enough and that only vociferous abuse of Lammons and his record will buy them victory.

One of them, our current D.A., appears to still be fighting the ghost of his predecessor, for whom Lammons worked as an assistant D.A.

The other surrogate, a member of the La Plata County Democratic Party executive committee, has taken it upon herself to damn Ben with his extensive record – how come he can’t keep a single job? How come he hasn’t been digging himself into a lifelong narrow tunnel? Joining our current D.A., she then dumps on the Southern Ute Justice Department for, somehow, not being complex and professional enough, a third-grade legal wasteland.

If Ben’s record and his judicial philosophy were not enough to sway me, the tenor of his relentless

abusers has surely succeeded. I will be voting for broad experience, for a balanced approach to criminal justice, for protection of home and community. I will be voting for Ben Lammons.

– Tom Givón, Ignacio

Give ’em sliced, not spliced

To the editor,

Last week’s “Flash in the Pan” on GMO apples by Ari Levaux was well written and had an interesting perspective. I might mention, in some “organic” geographical pockets of production, there is often more appreciation of diversity. In this, people can seek out a variety of sizes and firmness, like “kid sized and not so firm.” In shopping (or hunting in the rare semi-wild or gone-feral orchard) there are often lots of apples that aren’t all very near the same size. The less-firm apples are more rare, especially in modern markets. Examples are hard to find, yet some farmers markets will definitely carry apples that are about half the “average-sized” apple, and occasionally you can luck out by getting smaller-sized apples that are also less firm, such as Ginger Gold.

Except in prime local harvests seasons, it is often better to slice the apples rather than hold your breath, as organic apples’ nutrition is quite important alongside great tastes – though growers will be appreciative if you seek out the valued-deserving varieties that cross country and overseas shippers often ignore. Varieties from local, smaller orchards are also much more likely to be sustainable and eco friendly than the distant shipped. Yet, the U.S. generally has lost (or never developed in some parts) the art of efficient regional storage to the degree of overseas cultures.

It is kind of sad that big chains of ill (like McDonald’s) are relied upon for even slight improvement in North American children’s nutrition. It is great how Ari says slicing up your own is a healthy option, as long as teachable moments are gently yet firmly seized upon.

– Craig Loeffelholz, Durango

Lammons a major league player

To the editor,

I endorse Ben Lammons as the next district attorney for the Sixth Judicial District. I’ve been an attorney in Indian Country for 33 years and worked with Ben on numerous issues at Southern Ute. He is an attorney of great integrity, unmatched skill and would be a fabulous DA. 

I want to address one issue about Ben’s resume that is misunderstood and mischaracterized by Christian Champagne and his supporters. Ben works as the prosecutor for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. Some, including the current DA, characterize tribal courts as the “minor leagues” and Ben’s experience there as unworthy of consideration. This characterization is a gross falsehood.

Criminal prosecutions in tribal courts are just as complex as state court prosecutions. I personally spent months handling a tribal court criminal jury trial where the legal issues included such matters as the impact of forced testimonial immunity resulting from a defendant giving testimony to a United States Senate committee. (If you want to know how complex, try Googling “Kastigar v. United States.”) In addition, tribal court criminal jurisdiction depends on the analysis of the status of the land on which a crime occurs, the ethnic identity of both perpetrators and victims, and the precise nature of the crime; an analysis never required in state courts. 

Having an understanding of these complex issues, as Ben does, is critical to the administration of justice throughout the Sixth Judicial District. It is my understanding that the current D.A., whose policies are embraced by Champagne, will not prosecute at least some criminal cases where the investigation is started by the Southern Ute Police Department, based largely on a misunderstanding by the D.A. of these complex jurisdictional issues. (A DUI being one most recent example – remember that next time you’re out on the road.) When criminal cases are not prosecuted because a D.A. or candidate for D.A. is wrongly dismissive of the tribal courts, it does a disservice to all citizens of the Sixth Judicial District. 

Join me in voting for someone who understands these issues. Join me in voting for Ben Lammons.

– Steven C. Boos, Maynes, Bradford, Shipps & Sheftel LLP, Durango

Don’t get ‘Berned’ by bad logic

Dear Ed,

I’m traveling in Northern California and was driving through Monterey County as Bernie was speaking at a rally. So I listened to his speech. It’s difficult to understand the logic of Bernie’s call for free college, medical insurance and welfare while calling for restrictions on the people and companies that actually create jobs and tax revenue. In as much as progressives are the smartest people in the room (just ask them), who exactly is going to pay for all of these freebies when hedge fund managers decide to sit on the beach or more corporations head off shore? Just as many readers take Trump to task for his style, one has to wonder if Bernie even has a style. Quite frankly, I’m looking forward to seeing Hillary in her orange pant suit.

– Dennis Pierce, via email