West Slope is right place for former doctors’ trial

When former physicians Sam Jahani and Eric Peper are tried on charges related to health care fraud, excessive pain-killer prescriptions and the deaths of patients, the trial ought to be on the Western Slope, where the crimes were allegedly committed.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer of Grand Junction has made strong arguments for holding the trial in Grand Junction or another Western Slope venue:

For one thing, nearly all of the former patients of Jahani and Peper — their accusers — live in Montrose, Delta or Mesa counties. And federal courts are required to consider the convenience of victims in choosing a trial site.

Furthermore, the witnesses to be called are all from this part of Colorado. As a result, there would be a cost savings to the federal court system in having the trial here.

To those arguments, we would add one more: Holding the Jahani-Peper trial on this side of the Continental Divide would give Western Slope residents a chance to observe firsthand the workings of federal court.

Many people have watched television coverage of criminal trials that became media circuses, trials like this year’s Casey Anthony trial in Florida, or O.J. Simpson’s California trial in the 1990s.

Those were both trials in state courts. Fortunately, we have had nothing like them in our local state courts, and we can’t imagine local judges allowing such antics. But a federal criminal court operates at a different level. There would be a benefit to citizens and the federal judicial system in allowing people from the Western Slope to observe a major criminal trial in federal court.

We hope U.S. District Judge Christine Arguello will consider all these arguments and set the trial for Sam Jahani and Eric Peper on the Western Slope.


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