GAZETTE EDITORIAL: Attorney general candidate Phil Weiser represented a monstrous predator
The Democratic Attorneys General Association insists it is not true. Retired law professor Phil Weiser, they tell us, did not fight for the convicted molester of children ages five and six.
The controversy surrounds an ad paid for by the Colorado Freedom Independent Expenditure Committee, which details Weiser’s representation of child molester Anthony Warnick.
Weiser, former dean of the University of Colorado Law School, is the Democratic nominee challenging Republican prosecutor George Brauchler in the attorney general’s race.
“This ad is blatantly false — at no time did Phil serve as a criminal defense lawyer for the incarcerated criminal,” says the association’s website.
So we fact checked each claim.
The anti-Weiser ad never claims the professor served as a “criminal defense lawyer” for the molester. It states: “As a Boulder professor, Weiser volunteered on a criminal defense panel where he managed the appeal of a twice-convicted pedophile…”
The claim is accurate and true, as revealed in court documents. Weiser volunteered to serve on a federal panel of lawyers constituted under the Criminal Justice Act Plan. He represented the child molester’s civil pleading for early release. As a member of the panel, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals invited Weiser to represent Warnick. The repeat sex offender sought to reduce his sentence by challenging a reduction of his “good-time” credits.
The AGs association claims Weiser’s role was only to make “a pro bono argument on a Constitutional question.” That’s lawyer-speak for “represent the convict for free in his effort to get out of prison.”
Any confusion over Weiser’s true role in this case can be cleared up by the molester’s written appeal. Under “Attorneys and Law Firms,” the appeal states: “Philip J. Weiser, University of Colorado School of Law, Boulder, CO, for the petitioner—appellant.”
Make no mistake, Weiser’s representation of the molester was voluntary. He was asked, not ordered or appointed, to help Warnick make his case for early release. The court routinely respects any panel member’s desire to decline such an invitation. It has a formal waiver process, in case push comes to shove.
Warnick is a dangerous man from whom children need protection. Keeping him locked was a matter of maintaining public safety.
Warnick’s criminal record began in 1988, with a conviction on four counts of “lewd molestation” of a child. An Oklahoma court sentenced him to 10 years, and the parole board released him in four.
A few years later, in 1996, Warnick struck again. A court convicted him of “lewd molestation and sexual abuse” of two children ages 5 and 6. The narrative describing his stomach-churning crimes cannot be recounted in a family newspaper.
Just as the Colorado Freedom ad explains, Weiser argued for and tried to legally justify Warnick’s request for early release on “good-time credits” the convicted believed were taken against his rights.
Thankfully, for the sake of children, Weiser failed in this effort. The Tenth Circuit remanded the case to a district court, which ruled against the molester.
Warnick served his term, then began reoffending. Authorities arrested him in 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014 for failing to register as a sex offender. They subsequently arrested and convicted him on charges of child pornography in 2016. We can all give thanks Weiser did not achieve Warnick’s early release, given the fact this convict continues offending.
Wanick is the type of monster every parent fears. The TV ad is true. Weiser fought, by choice, for the molester’s early release.
One can argue the merits of a lawyer volunteering to help even the most repugnant of convicts in a civil appeal. In this case, voters should consider the facts when choosing whom to elect as state’s attorney general.