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An Aspen attorney is challenging the District Attorney's Office's refusal to file charges against a woman involved in a violent altercation at a chairlift late last year. But one prosecutor said Jeff Wertz's civil complaint is just part of his "boring routine."

Wertz filed a lawsuit last week in Pitkin County District Court asking a judge to order the 9th Judicial DA's office to prosecute Nicole Easley for several misdemeanor charges connected to an argument between a skier and snowboarder that turned violent at Aspen Mountain in December.

Wertz, a former deputy district attorney for the 9th Judicial District, represents Jamil Jenkins, whom the lawyer claims Easley struck in the nose with a ski pole. Easley, 53, of Aspen, was cited for third-degree misdemeanor assault on Dec. 29, but the DA's office dropped the charge.

Deputy DA Katharine Sullivan said the charge was dropped because witnesses at the scene said Easley was defending herself.

Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills offered a prepared statement last week when told about Wertz's complaint.

"... This office does review numerous complaints each day, only a portion of which rise to a level which justify criminal prosecution," Wills wrote. "Mr. Wertz has recently made a boring routine of filing civil lawsuits to compel criminal prosecution each time he disagrees with this office.

"He has never been successful in convincing a court that the Office of the District Attorney abused its discretion in making these decisions, and there is no reason to believe that he will be successful here. We believe Mr. Wertz would better serve his client by filing a direct civil lawsuit against those parties which he believes injured his client."

In his petition, Wertz claims that the DA's office never responded to his request to provide him a reason why the charge was dropped.

He also said Easley confessed to hitting Jenkins with a ski pole, saying, "I can't believe I did that" and "I shouldn't have done that."

Easley allegedly hit Jenkins after he snowboarded into her from behind near the Ajax Express Lift, according to public records. Witnesses said the two got into a heated argument, in which Jenkins told Easley to "f – k off." She then struck him, witnesses said.

Easley's attorney, Richie Cummins, said his client has offered to pay Jenkins for some of his medical expenses, but he has declined.

Wertz said Wills' comments in the prepared statement were off-base.

"I have filed one previous civil lawsuit under the same statute against the district attorney and that matter is pending," he said. "I don't see this as a 'boring routine.'

"It's not desirable or pleasant to do this, but the statute gives the right for an aggrieved victim to force the district (attorney’s office) to state to the court its reason for not prosecuting. I asked the District Attorney's Office directly for a reasonable justification for dropping the charge against Nicole Easley, and I gave them a deadline in which to do that.

"I told them I would be filing this action if they didn't respond to me and I received no response whatsoever, and therefore I did as I said I would do and filed the petition on behalf of Mr. Jenkins.

"I'm prepared to let a court decide the matter."


[ April 25, 2002, 11:40 AM: Message edited by: matt_davis ]