Rarely does a judge ask a prosecutor to explain a charging decision. It's even more rare to request an explanation years later. But, in a rare and important move by Denver District Court Chief Judge Michael Martinez, District Attorney Mitch Morrissey will have to account for his questionable discretion.
The case in question involves a Sheriff's deputy whom Morrissey chose not to prosecute after he slammed an inmate, Anthony Waller, into a glass window. According to the Denver Post:
On Sept. 11, 2012, Deputy Brady Lovingier grabbed Waller by chains around his waist and slammed him into a window frame inside a courtroom. Lovingier, who is white, called Waller, who is black, "boy" as he ordered him to get up.
In a courtroom security video, Waller appeared to be calm as he posed a question to Judge Doris Burd. Lovingier then touched Waller on the back, leading the inmate to turn around.
That's when Lovingier grabbed him by the waist chains. Waller suffered broken teeth, a fractured bone around his eye, a gash on his head and a closed head injury, according to the petition. Waller's back, neck, legs and ankles also were injured.
You can see the video here
The judge's decision to force Morrissey to explain himself indicates a possibility of further action against the prosecutor. "This is our shot at getting justice," said Ken Padilla, Waller's attorney.
The Post reports that "Morrissey has been criticized by various community groups, including the NAACP and Colorado Latino Forum, because he rarely prosecutes police or sheriff's deputies accused of excessive force."
It is unusual and admirable for a judge to hold a prosecutor accountable, especially when the alleged perpetrator is an agent of the state. Hopefully, more judges will begin asking questions when law enforcement gets off scot free for abusing and assaulting citizens.