Denver District Attorney Beth McCann on Thursday retracted her endorsement of her former chief deputy Michael Song for a judgeship in Denver, saying Song had misrepresented her handling of misconduct allegations against him.
Weeks ago, McCann supported Song’s application for one of two open judgeship positions in Denver and stated in her recommendation letter that Song “has truly served as an example of community service” in her office.
She backtracked on Thursday. In a new letter she wrote to Gov. Jared Polis, McCann said she “can no longer support Mr. Song’s application to be a District Court judge.”
Song was one of six nominees the Second Judicial District Nominating Commission forwarded to Polis for the two new judgeship positions in Denver. The positions pay $173,248 annually.
In her letter to Polis, McCann referenced misconduct allegations that Colorado Politics and The Gazette revealed had been lodged against Song when he worked in the Denver District Attorney’s Office.
McCann said she originally left it up to Song to address those issues with the judicial nominating commission and chose at that time to outline the positive things he had done in her office.
McCann said in her letter to Polis on Thursday that she needed to revisit the allegations of misconduct because Song had misrepresented her handling of them and the extent of their validity in a document Song sent to the Colorado defense bar.
The allegations included whether Song made inappropriate racial remarks during a jury trial that ended with a jury deadlocking on the criminal charges.
Another prosecutor in the Denver DA’s office had alleged that during that jury trial, Song ordered a witness to refrain from talking to the defense counsel, which would be a violation of the Colorado rules of criminal procedure.
The prosecutor further alleged that Song wanted to prevent any Latinos from serving on the jury because the defendant was a Latino. Using race solely as a pretext for selecting jurors has been outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court, the other prosecutor pointed out to his superiors.
Other DA's Office staffers and a police official also had accused Song of making sexist and inappropriate comments during office banter.
Song has repeatedly declined to discuss the allegations with Colorado Politics and The Gazette, but in a document he forwarded to the Colorado defense bar he said that the Denver District Attorney’s Office believed news articles about the allegations were false and inaccurate.
McCann said that was not so.
“The allegations were not false although Mr. Song denies making the statements mentioned in the article,” McCann said in her letter to Polis in which she retracted her endorsement of Song.
McCann said no formal complaint had been submitted to her office about Song, which meant she did not conduct a formal investigation. Still, McCann told Polis in her letter that the complaints were valid enough to warrant counseling Song.
“The comments were serious enough that I met with Michael and counseled him about the inappropriate nature of such comments and told him that such comments were not acceptable in our office and must stop,” McCann wrote in the letter.
She later added: “The document that Michael sent to the defense bar leaves the impression that members of this office made false accusations about Michael. I need to be very clear that is not true. Although there may have been disagreement about the actual language used, I believed that inappropriate statements were made by Mr. Song.”
When Colorado Politics and The Gazette revealed the allegations in news articles, Song abruptly resigned from the Denver District Attorney’s Office in August. He did not return telephone messages seeking comment on Thursday. In meetings with staffers, McCann said she asked him to resign, according to several people who attended the meetings.
Song, in the document submitted to the defense bar, deleted the reference in McCann’s about the need to counsel him on his alleged inappropriate comments, McCann noted in the letter.