Longform

THE SPAN OF AN INJUSTICE

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Ultimately, the marshals were not allowed to intervene in the condemnation case, but each of their lawsuits against Darlene and Jerry Span are still pending.

The multiple legal fronts, Darlene and Jerry say, have tapped them out financially and emotionally.

Hirsch, the last lawyer they have representing them in any of their various legal arenas, has moved to withdraw as their attorney.

Darlene and Jerry now have no attorney representing them in their criminal case, which is set to go back to federal court on March 28.

They are attempting to represent themselves, and have filed their own motions in Broomfield's court. Their strategy is to argue that their original trial lawyers did not mount a proper defense for them, a dubious assertion given the unusual statements from jurors that they were convinced the Spans did nothing wrong.

If their motions are rejected, Darlene and Jerry will face sentences that have been held in abeyance while they pursued their appeals.

Paul Rood, the assistant U.S. attorney now handling the Span case, says the government will continue to insist that the Spans serve their sentences, despite the passage of time and turmoil the convictions have caused in their lives.

"There was a jury trial a while back, and a jury determined that they were guilty," Rood says. The case has dragged on for all these years because of the Spans' efforts, not the government's, Rood notes.

"The length of time is a function of their motions," he says. "Everything is being pursued by the Spans. Not us."
If the sentences are imposed, for Darlene it means a $6,000 fine, 36 months of probation, three months in a community treatment center, three months' house arrest and mental-health treatment.

For Jerry, it means he will quite literally become a prisoner of the house on Fillmore Street, serving four months of house arrest along with 30 months of probation and a fine of $1,000.

For both, it will also mean rending the last shreds of faith they have in the courts.

Their brother Pete explains that the Span children were raised "warped by reality. We believed in justice and the justice system."

Says Jerry: "When you go to court, you think you're able to tell the truth about everything. But you can't talk about this, and you can't talk about that. How are you going to tell your story? I'm a criminal in their eyes.

"Here I am, one of the best citizens there is, and I hate crime, and I'm branded as a criminal.

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David Pasztor