The Denver District Attorney's Office strives to provide accurate information and proper context to the public through the media on cases and issues of public interest.
Occasionally a story may misrepresent or misinterpret the facts. In those cases, we can "set the record straight" by making additional information available directly to the public.
Setting the Record Straight
New York Times article, June 21, 2016
A recent article in the New York Times by Christine Hauser (June 21, 2016) contains misinformation about the case of a young man charged as an adult in connection with the murder of a Denver school teacher in 2000.
The New York Times article entitled, “Man Sues Denver Police, Saying Forced Confession at 14 Put Him in Prison,” reports on the case of Lorenzo Montoya, saying:
• In 2014, he was released from prison after new DNA tests raised doubts about his involvement in the murder.
This is incorrect. Defense counsel for Lorenzo Montoya filed a motion seeking a new trial based on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. His “involvement” in the murder was always believed to have been as the lookout and that he knew he was in the victim’s stolen car and knew that she had been attacked. In fact, Mr. Montoya has admitted this.
Later in the article, the reporter writes:
• The Montoya case is the latest in which DNA tests helped free people from prison.
This is incorrect. There was no DNA test nor were there any court proceedings that litigated any new DNA evidence. And, he was not exonerated. Mr. Montoya was always thought to have been an accessory to the murder.
When Mr. Montoya’s attorney filed a motion requesting a new trial, based on allegations that he had ineffective counsel at the time, the Denver DA’s Office reviewed those allegations. The DA’s Office was prepared to argue each allegation and there is every reason to believe we would have prevailed and the motion for a new trial would be denied.
However, the Denver District Attorney’s Office took a larger view of this case and performed a review that included many hours reviewing the case files and talking to people involved in the original prosecution, including the victim’s family.
Based on everything from the original plea offer, to the input of the original prosecutors and others, it was determined that justice would be served in allowing Montoya to now plead guilty to being accessory. Once that determination was made, the Denver District Attorney’s Office worked with Mr. Montoya’s attorney to ensure that outcome.
So, to be clear -
- Lorenzo Montoya was NOT wrongfully convicted nor was he exonerated.
- DNA evidence did not exonerate him.
Denver Post, June 17, 2016
A recent article in The Denver Post by reporter Kirk Mitchell suggests that the Denver District Attorney’s Office pays women attorneys less than their male counterparts.
This is not true.
The reporter’s story, entitled “Denver’s top employment hearing officer sues over gender pay inequality,” quotes from a recently filed lawsuit (that doesn’t involve the District Attorney’s Office), in which he wrote the following without any attribution:
• In Morrissey’s office, male non-supervisory and supervisory attorneys receive average salaries that are $7,800 and $11,200 more than their female counterparts, respectively.
This is not true.
Attorney salaries in the Denver District Attorney’s Office are public record, and had the reporter checked, he would have found that attorney salaries are based primarily on seniority. Gender is not a factor.
The salaries of deputies hired in the same calendar year are usually the same. There are a few exceptions, for reasons that do not include gender. For example, some deputies with prior legal experience are hired at a higher starting salary, and some adjustments are made for chief deputies who have unique responsibilities.
It is important to note that the lawsuit quoted by the reporter is not against the Denver District Attorney’s Office nor does it involve this office.
Denver District Attorney's Office