Chief Judge Replaces Gavel With an AR-15 and His Second Amendment Argument Didn’t Impress

Judge Mark Thompson has been charged with one count of felony menacing. It is alleged he threatened the victim who felt in imminent danger.

Chief judge in Colorado’s Fifth Judicial District charged with felony menacing, removed from position

Judge Mark Thompson, 54, presided over courts in Summit, Clear Creek, Eagle and Lake counties

OCT 17, 2021 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: OCT 21, 2021

The chief judge for Colorado’s Fifth Judicial District was charged Saturday with felony menacing, according to court records.

Judge Mark Thompson, 54, who presided over courts in Summit, Clear Creek, Eagle and Lake counties, was removed from his position as chief judge after the charge was filed Saturday, according to the Colorado Judicial Branch.

Thompson was charged with a single count of felony menacing with a real or simulated weapon after an investigation by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, according to court records, which say the incident happened on July 25.

The case was suppressed from public view and court documents that are expected to detail the accusation against Thompson were not available Sunday.

Prosecutors with the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office wrote in a motion requesting the secrecy that it was necessary because Thompson was a public official and “prominent member” of the community.

“The release at this time of any of the documents of record in this matter could result in disclosure of information that could result in destruction, or secreting evidence and tampering with identified and unidentified witnesses, which could jeopardize the ongoing investigation and/or interfere with the rights of the defendant, including irreversible harm to reputation, and the defendant’s and the People’s right to a fair trial,” the prosecutors wrote.

Judge Paul Dunkelman granted the request for secrecy in a one-line order Saturday. Since May, judges have been required to issue written orders that explain why they are limiting public access to a case and find there is no less restrictive way to protect the information, like through redaction. Dunkelman’s order does not address those issues.

Fifth Judicial District Attorney Heidi McCollum said Monday she asked for the case to be suppressed in order to allow for the special prosecutors to handle it however they choose. The case will be prosecuted by First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King.

“There’s nothing in that intended to be secret or nefarious or hiding anything,” McCollum said. “…We just wanted to give a chance to the district that did get it, that they would be able to get it clean and handle in whatever way they thought appropriate to be able to respond to the press.”

Thompson could not be reached for comment Sunday and his attorney did not immediately return a request for comment.

Thompson is currently on planned paid time off, judicial branch spokesman Rob McCallum said Sunday. It was not immediately clear when Thompson planned to return, but McCallum said Thompson will resume his duties as a judge — though not chief judge — upon his return.

Menacing with a real or simulated weapon is a Class 5 felony, and is typically punished with one to three years in prison, followed by parole, according to the state’s sentencing guidelines.

People commit felony menacing if they purposely make someone fear being seriously injured and if, while doing so, they either use a deadly weapon or something that looks like a weapon, or tell the victim they are armed with a deadly weapon, according to state law.

Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Brian Boatright on Saturday named Dunkelman to serve as interim chief judge for the Fifth Judicial District while the criminal case against Thompson is pending.

“The matter involving Judge Thompson will be properly addressed through the legal system,” Boatright said in a news release. “Judge Thompson has the presumption of innocence, and he is entitled to and deserves due process.”

All of the judges in the Fifth Judicial District recused themselves from the case against their colleague. Judge Sean Finn, who works in the 17th Judicial District — covering Adams and Broomfield counties — will preside over the case instead, according to a memo from State Court Administrator Steven Vasconcellos.

Thompson worked as an attorney in Summit County for 18 years before he became a district court judge in 2010, according to the judicial branch’s website. He was appointed chief judge in 2013.

Thompson, who was charged by summons, is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 17.

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Chief Judge Replaces Gavel With an AR-15 and His Second Amendment Argument Didn’t Impress
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