Serving the High Plains

Text of DA's response

This is District Attorney Tim Rose’s written response to Quay County Sheriff Russell Shafer’s Facebook post:

“Issues surrounding the criminal justice system is something that has always been the subject of much controversy and heated debate. These debates are being held on a national, state and local level and for many people, especially those of us involved in the criminal justice field, hold strong personal opinions on how best to improve our justice system. For the system to work we need our legislators to do a better job to set policies and enact laws that allows the rest of us to do our jobs effectively. We also need improvements in law enforcement agencies in doing a better job in conducting thorough competent investigations and collecting necessary evidence sufficient for convicting individuals for crimes they commit. Prosecution offices and the courts need to continue to make improvements to be more effective and that ensure good decisions are being made. Lastly, the State needs to properly fund all justice agencies to a degree that will allow them to be effective at their jobs and the public needs to do a better job in providing support and cooperation with the agencies. For the system to work, each moving part needs to work in cooperation and in support each other.

“Over the past six years I have worked with State, County and City police departments as well the courts and other related agencies to identify problems and work toward solutions. While this work has included many heated and frank discussions, we have usually been able to find common ground and work toward common goals in a professional manner.

“So to say the least, I was frankly shocked and surprised by the Sheriff’s facebook post when I learned of it for the first time in the evening hours of August 6, 2019. The Sheriff made absolutely no attempt to contact me regarding this case or to express any concerns he may have about my office’ handling of this case. Before issuing any responses, I personally met with Sheriff Shafer the morning of August 7th to get a better understanding of his motivation for the critical post and to discuss where we want our relationship to go from here.

“After the meeting, I am assured that we both want to move forward in positive constructive manner. While it is tempting to do so, I will refrain from making any negative comments or in any way get involved in some ridiculous social media frenzy. However, I do think a few comments should be made.

“First, because the specific case mentioned in the facebook post is still pending in court, it is completely inappropriate for me to comment fully and in a way that could affect the fair administration of justice in that case. This prosecution of this Defendant will occur in the courtroom rather than on Social Media sites.

“Secondly, I will however say that the comments of the face book post were not completely accurate and very misleading and I will take this opportunity to correct some basic factual assertions based on the public record of the case. The record is clear that the Office of the District Attorney did not received the case for prosecution until after the Defendant was initially released from incarceration; that immediately upon his arrest my office successfully obtained an order from the court holding the Defendant in jail without bond pending final resolution of the case; and the Defendant received the maximum sentence as to each crime he has been convicted.

“Lastly, while I understand and appreciate the frustration of the Sheriff of having to fulfill his extradition responsibilities to bring back out of state fugitives as well as any disagreements he may have at times with decisions made by the courts or the District Attorney’s Office, I am disappointed in his sudden and erratic decision to vent on social media posts without attempting to communicate directly with me as professionals. The community deserves better, and I fully anticipate it will receive better, from all involved going forward. I look forward to continued working with the Sheriff and all other criminal justice partnerships to resolve issues and improving our local criminal justice system.”