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Christian Champagne recounts triumphs before moving to next role

Outgoing district attorney said biggest wins were justice for victims of egregious crimes
Sixth Judicial District Attorney Christian Champagne, who led the investigation and case against Mark Redwine, who was convicted of murdering his son, Dylan Redwine, in 2012, officially stepped down on Friday. He accepted a job in Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office as a senior counsel. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Sixth Judicial District Attorney Christian Champagne has officially left his position, passing the mantle to his colleague Sean Murray, who was sworn in on Friday at the La Plata County Courthouse.

Champagne accepted a senior counsel position in Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office. He will advise and support rural district attorneys statewide.

The scope of his work will include advising and supporting district attorney offices during major trial work, along with possibly filling in for district attorney positions during changes of leadership or unforeseen circumstances where a new prosecutor is needed.

Champagne said he is excited for the role, and rural communities across Colorado are in desperate need of support.

On Friday, mere hours before 6th Judicial District Judge Suzanne Carlson swore in Murray as the next district attorney, Champagne reflected on his time serving as the lead prosecutor for the area.

Of the things he’s most proud of, he said the District’s Attorney’s office has reduced court cases filed in the 6th Judicial District by 36%.

“The criminal justice system generally, I've always felt, is sweeping up too many good people into the system,” he said. “And that was one of my major goals in becoming a district attorney, was trying to reduce the overall size and impact of the criminal justice system.”

He said the work so far is a sign of success, but the work toward better outcomes continues.

One of the biggest challenges for the district attorney’s office under his leadership and for future leadership will be ensuring timely hearings and trials for people caught up in the justice system, he said.

“They can get justice, the victims can get justice, the community can get closure, and we can move on. And hopefully, reintegrate these people back into the community as good, healthful, happy citizens,” he said.

Christian Champagne, now former district attorney for Colorado's 6th Judicial District, talks on Sept. 9, 2022 at the La Plata County Courthouse about the DA’s new website that breaks down his departments’ justice system. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Champagne said he is “extremely proud” of the handling of the Mark Redwine case. Redwine was found guilty of the 2012 murder of his 13-year-old son Dylan and was sentenced to 48 years in prison in October 2021.

But he is also proud about securing justice for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“Those cases are just so challenging for those folks who are involved in them as victims and their family members. And when you can get justice in those types of cases, it's really a proud moment,” he said.

He said in his early public defender days, he witnessed what he thought was “over prosecution” by the district attorneys. He decided to get into the DA’s office to change it for the better from within.

He is now moving to the state level, where he hopes to assist other district attorney offices statewide. However, he said he is leaving the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s office in good hands, he said.

“I’m so proud to stand alongside Sean,” he said on Friday, just a day after Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced Murray would fill in for district attorney after Champagne’s exit.

“He's a clear minded thinker. He's one of the brightest attorneys I've ever worked alongside. He's going to do great work for this community and do a great job as DA,” he added.

Champagne said although he will be working all over the state for the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, he will still be nestled in Durango.


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