Furse takes over as DA

New prosecutor plans big changes for office

district court Judge Douglas Walker swears in the new district attorney, Will Furse, Tuesday at the courthouse. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

district court Judge Douglas Walker swears in the new district attorney, Will Furse, Tuesday at the courthouse.

"A little surreal" is how the new district attorney for the 22nd Judicial District described his first day in office.

Surrounded by boxes and a jumbled mess of drawers filled to the top with papers left by the previous administration, incoming DA Will Furse admitted on Tuesday he will need some time to catch up to his new responsibilities.

He said there was a clear lack of organization in the previous administration, so it will take a few months to get everything in order.

"I have been thinking about this day for so long," he said. "It's a little surreal that I am sitting in this office after so long." He also called it anticlimactic after the slim win in the Republican primary.

A big change will be coming. Furse is working on digitizing all court documents, so the only thing a prosecutor will need to bring to court is a laptop computer. Furse has been working with information technology professionals and the Colorado District Attorney Council on implementing new procedures.

"This office has been so reliant on paper, so it will be a dramatic shift," he said. "It will be less work in the long term. Cases will begin on their computer screens."

Another change Furse will implement is the use of grand juries, where members of the public decide whether there is enough evidence for a defendant to go to trial.

He prefers grand juries to preliminary hearings, where a judge determines if there is sufficient evidence for a trial.

"We will be relying on the judgment of our peers," he said. "I am very excited about that."

Already on Furse's plate are a murder case and an appeal of a murder conviction that was overturned by the trial judge, along with other high-profile cases.

The new DA said he either has already been involved with, or has been made aware of, the status of these cases.

Regarding the Luther Hampson murder case, Ron Edwards from the attorney general's office will continue to assist the district attorney's office with the case. Deputy DA Tom Farrell will be the lead prosecutor.

"That agreement allows the case to proceed without interruption," Furse said.

There will also be a change in the makeup of the staff, with no chief deputy DA.

"For an office of this size I prefer them to work in their areas of expertise," the new DA said.

Furse encourages the public to visit district court to see how the process works and judge for themselves the work of the new DA and his staff.