Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Judges consider retrial for Aspen woman represented by fake lawyer - The Denver Post

Judges consider retrial for Aspen woman represented by fake lawyer - The Denver Post
A murder-for-hire convict represented in court by a fake attorney lost an appeal to have her conviction and nine-year prison sentence overturned.

But a three-judge panel on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Gwen Bergman's Sixth Amendment right to counsel was violated during an Oct. 23, 2007, hearing when she was found mentally competent to stand trial.

As a remedy, the appellate court sent Bergman's case back to Senior U.S. District Judge Walker D. Miller to conduct an evidentiary hearing and make a "retrospective" competency determination to find whether he believes she was of sound mind at the time.

If Miller finds Bergman was incompetent, he must throw out her conviction and order a new trial. If he finds she was competent, Miller could still order a new trial.

In her appeal, Bergman argued that her sentence was unreasonably long, but the judges indicated if Miller decides not to conduct a new trial, her prison sentence will stand.

Circuit Judge Jerome A. Holmes dissented from the remedy decided upon by circuit judges Bobby R. Baldock and Eugene Edward Siler Jr. in the opinion published March 25.

Holmes wrote that a retrospective competency determination would be nearly impossible to do given that three years have passed since the competency hearing.

"I would vacate Ms. Bergman's convictions and remand the case for a new trial," he wrote.

The impostor attorney, Howard O. Kieffer, advised Bergman to go forward with a trial — a move that contradicted what prior defense lawyers advised her to do.

Read more: http://www.denverpost.com/ci_14820477#ixzz0kEDvVzXN

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