Tina Peters avoids jail after unapproved trip to Nevada, but she will need court permission for future travel
Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters will not be arrested for violating a condition of her bond by traveling outside of Colorado without permission after her attorney took the blame for the situation.
After a nearly hour-long and at times testy hearing, Mesa County District Court Judge Matthew Barrett quashed a motion to revoke Peters’ bond. This is after her attorney explained that he had failed to tell her about the Judge’s order barring out-of-state travel. The prosecution did not object to the motion to cancel the warrant for her arrest.
“This was a violation of the bond. Period,” Barrett said. “It cannot be disputed. You did not have permission to go to Las Vegas. You did not have permission to leave Colorado.”
But the Judge said he would follow his general practice of allowing a second chance when it comes to bond violations.
“I give people an opportunity to come in and explain themselves before they're subject to arrest,” he said.
Barrett called it "incredible" that Peters' attorneys did not notify her that she could not leave Colorado.
"What happened here is, again, unfathomable to me, given everything that's at stake."
He later said he would expect a lawyer to tell their client about a travel prohibition within an hour of getting the order.
The judge also noted how different Peters’ situation is compared to the cases he often sees. She’s an elected official with a national profile, who has been indicted on ten counts of tampering with election equipment and misconduct in her effort to uncover voter fraud in the 2020 election. He said she has access to people in positions of power.
“Many defendants come into this courtroom struggling with housing, stability, mental health issues, substance abuse issues,” he added, “Those folks don't have three lawyers. They don't have privilege. Unlike Ms. Peters, they don't fly all over the country on private jets for meetings or whatever.”
Tina Peters' attorney says it was his mistake
Peters’ attorney Harvey Steinberg said the entire situation was his fault. He said he’s the member of Peters’ legal team who’s responsible for communicating things like this to her. But he was unavailable and in hearings, and his personal assistant was out of town when the judge’s order arrived. Steinberg said he didn’t see the order until 48 hours after it was issued.
By that time Peters had already been in Las Vegas speaking at a conference at the Constitutional Sheriff and Peace Officers Association.
“I'm in control. So when mistakes are made, I'll take the heat. A mistake was made here,” said Steinberg, chalking the situation up to human error.
Steinberg said Peters shouldn’t be punished for his failing because she had emailed his office and asked them to inform the court of her travel plans, although she ended up leaving for Nevada on a private jet the evening of July 11, a day earlier than she said she would. Steinberg said he also failed to notice that message in a longer email chain.
He said Peters has generally tried to be very cautious in her actions since her arrest because she had a level of paranoia about the situation she’s in.
“She is so careful because she thinks that the system is being unfair and the system is looking for a reason, an excuse, to throw her back in jail,” he told the judge.
Peters is seen as a 'flight risk,' and will need to get permission to travel out-of-state
But judge Barrett disputed how “careful” Peters has been and warned that if another situation like this comes up, for whatever reason, he will not be lenient.
“It will not happen again. It will not happen again. You understand that Ms. Peters? You leave one minute before the time that you tell me you're going to leave, that is a violation of your bond,” said Barrett.
Going forward Peters will be required to get court approval to travel beyond Colorado. While restrictions were looser when she was running for office, Barrett said now that she’s no longer campaigning she has less of a reason to freely leave the state. Peters lost the GOP primary for Colorado Secretary of State in June.
“Defendant is a flight risk period. She has resources to disappear,” he noted.
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