Grand Valley is ready to host federal judge

It’s rare that such opportunities present themselves, but the pending federal case involving the failed Valley Investments firm in Grand Junction presents a chance for the federal bench to make an appearance on the West Slope.

We hope U.S. District Judge Philip A. Brimmer will consider this a sincere invitation for him to preside over hearings and a trial, if there is one, here in Grand Junction. Federal judges handle felony cases such as this one. Magistrate judges can preside over the earliest stages of such cases and Magistrate Judge Gudrun Rice handled the first hearing in the case because Magistrate Judge Laird Milburn has a conflict.

The fall of Valley Investments affected some 400 investors, many, if not most, of whom who reside in the Grand Valley. The loss of $31 million certainly is not insignificant to the Grand Valley.

Many of those investors crowded into the courtroom of the Wayne N. Aspinall Building in downtown Grand Junction on Thursday to see the beginning of the proceedings.

Two of the three defendants in the case are Grand Valley residents and the third lives in Kansas. He would have to travel no matter where proceedings are conducted.

Many witnesses in the case live in the Grand Valley, and the prosecutor assigned to the case also works in the Aspinall building. It’s also possible that Grand Junction attorneys will be appointed to represent one if not more of the defendants. Many of those who investigated the case also reside in the Grand Valley.

Certainly it’s in the interest of the investors, defendants and attorneys to conduct proceedings in Grand Junction and save them the daunting winter trip over the Rockies.

There are additional advantages to conducting the case in Grand Junction. It’s rare for residents of western Colorado to see federal cases of any sort being played out west of the Rockies. This case offers an opportunity for the community in general, not just those with vested interests, to view the proceedings.

It also would offer students from high school to college a chance to witness the conduct of a significant federal case with real lives at stake, something their counterparts on the Front Range take for granted, but is all too rare here.

While we concede that the courtroom in the federal building is small, we submit that courtrooms are available in the nearby Mesa County Justice Center.

Forgive us a bit of local pride, but we’d like to introduce a member of the federal bench to this side of Colorado, where he can see the skies, sample some peaches, hike on the Grand Mesa or Colorado National Monument and watch water run downhill through the valley.

Judge Brimmer, please consider yourself invited to Grand Junction.


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