Opinion: Dont let a convicted killer sway your vote on this judicial retention

In 2001 Hal Hebert murdered his wife, Carol Hebert, at their home in the Bonnie Brae neighborhood of Denver. Hebert was convicted at trial based on significant physical evidence, including blood evidence and based on eyewitness evidence of different activities that connected Hebert to his wife’s murder.

In 2003, Hebert was tried by a jury of 12 people in Denver. He was found guilty of first-degree murder with a unanimous jury verdict and with the highest legal evidentiary standard – proof beyond a reasonable doubt. He was sentenced to life in prison, a sentence he is serving today.

Hebert unsuccessfully appealed his initial conviction to the Colorado Court of Appeals. He has also pursued other procedural post-conviction matters before the Denver District Court and the Colorado Court of Appeals. At every juncture, the courts have upheld Hebert’s conviction for murder.

Over the past few years, Hebert has chosen other avenues outside the courts to protest his conviction. Among them, Hebert, or his allies, have paid for fliers to be placed in the Sunday Denver Post that allege prosecutorial misconduct, particularly by Kerri Lombardi, who was the lead prosecutor on his case at trial in 2003.

This is significant because Kerri Lombardi was appointed to the Denver County Court Bench in 2015 and serves there today. Judge Lombardi is up for retention in the November election. I am writing this piece for Denver voters who will consider her retention.

I was the Denver District Attorney from 1993 to 2005. My staff and I analyzed all cases by asking ourselves whether there was sufficient evidence for the accused to be convicted by a jury of twelve, unanimously, utilizing the beyond-a-reasonable doubt standard. When my office prosecuted murder cases, owing to the significant penalties for different levels of murder, I was personally involved in reviewing the evidence and in determining what the just way to proceed for the accused and for the victim and the victim’s family was.

Hebert’s case was no different. I, and the team of prosecutors handling the case, spent a great deal of time and effort reviewing every piece of evidence in the case. Based on those reviews, we were convinced of Hebert’s guilt. We also believed that justice for Carol Hebert and her family demanded that we pursue the matter in a court of law. Twelve Denver jurors agreed with us.

I hired Judge Lombardi as a deputy district attorney in 1994. For the next ten years that I led that office, I was able to observe her work, her decision-making, and her commitment to the integrity of the justice system. I had the highest regard for her ethics and her intellect. When she was appointed to the bench, I was gratified that Judge Lombardi would be able to bring her considerable skills, and her sense of fairness and justice to another public service, the Denver County Court Bench.

In determining whether to retain Judge Lombardi, voters may utilize whatever information they have access to, including the recommendations of the Judicial Performance Commission. What I hope Denver voters do not consider are the baseless allegations of a convicted murderer written from his prison cell in the Colorado Department of Corrections. That would be its own grave injustice.

Bill Ritter, Jr. is a former governor of Colorado and a former Denver district attorney.

To send a letter to the editor about this article, submit online or check out our guidelines for how to submit by email or mail.

Source: Read Full Article