Denver district attorney’s attempt to outwit TV reporter backfires

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey refuses to prosecute a higher percentage of felonies and felony sex assaults than many other judicial districts in Colorado and several similar ones around the country, according to Denver’s 7News, which said it’s been working on the story for months.

But what’s getting just as much attention is the ham-fisted way Morrissey, a Democrat, dealt with the TV reporter chasing him down for an interview all that time.

According to the station’s report, Morrissey’s office declines to prosecute 36 percent of all felonies presented to his office and 71 percent of felony sex assault cases.

Comparatively, Jefferson County refused to prosecute just 29 percent of felony sex assaults. The Colorado county with the second highest overall felony refusal rates was Douglas County at 11.5 percent.

Morrissey refused to do an on-camera interview with the station, so reporter Keli Rabon and a cameraman tracked him down in public to ask him why he turned down so many felony cases.

What resulted was a nine-minute clip of Morrissey patronizingly refusing to answer Rabon’s questions or agree to an on-camera interview at a later time. In it, Morrissey cites what he called unfair editing by the station and repeatedly predicts that none of his criticism being filmed would be shown.

On the contrary, the station posted the entire clip on its website, which news director Jeff Harris admitted was a departure from the norm.

“[G]iven the content of his responses, we felt it was appropriate to do so,” he told the newspaper Westword. “And we also think that because he’s an elected official, it was important for his constituency to see how he responded to what we believe, and others are telling us, is a very important issue.”

In the clip, Morrissey finally agrees to sit down with Rabon for an off-camera interview, but the DA had another surprise for the reporter when she showed up at his office later — Morrissey himself had set up a camera to film the encounter, but he wouldn’t let 7News do the same.

His spokeswoman explained the bizarre arrangement by saying that they wanted to “document the conversation.”

“So why can’t we document the conversation?” Rabon asked.

“Do you want to have this conversation or not?” Morrissey replied.

“Well, I just want to be on the same page,” Rabon said.

“We’re on the same page,” he said. “We’re off camera, you’re on camera. If you don’t want to do it this way, I have other things to do, so it’s up to you.”