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New judge assigned to hear Vallejos case in June

by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG —  A new judge presided over a status conference hearing Wednesday, Jan. 31 in Huerfano District Court in the case of the people vs Kevin Vallejos.
The conference, which was conducted over the phone, dealt with jury questionnaire issues and the length of the June 4, 2018 trial of the former Huerfano Sheriff’s Captain on an attempted sexual assault charge, a class five felony alleging the defendant overcame the victim’s will.
Janet Drake, a special prosecutor from the state attorney general’s office and Ted McClintock, Vallejos’ defense attorney, participated in the conference call with Senior Judge Jane A. Tidball, who replaced retiring Senior Judge Richard Hall.
There was no change in the schedule of the five-day jury trial set for this summer, and it was announced there will be at least one alternate juror seated.  Jury selection days were discussed, and it was the general consensus of all parties, that jury selection should be able to be accomplished on Monday and possibly Tuesday morning of the trial.
Judge Tidball asked both attorneys to review and make some minor alterations of the juror questionnaire, removing some questions the judge likes to ask potential jurors herself.  Also under consideration may be additional questions concerning how much a potential juror knows about this case, and another case that will be adjudicated sometime after the June trial.
McClintock said he would have a full defense witness list filed with the court and prosecution by April 6, 2018.  The defense’s potential witness list was an issue at the last hearing conducted by Judge Hall in early January.  At that hearing, an issue involving the defense witness list was discussed.  Vallejos reportedly gave his attorney a lengthy potential witness list that allegedly contained incomplete information regarding potential defense witnesses, such as complete names and addresses. Judge Hall pointed out at that hearing, the five day trial will not provide time for all of the potential witnesses Vallejos named.  Judge Hall said the ultimate decision on which witnesses were called to the stand will be up to the defendant’s attorney.
Drake told the court in that earlier January hearing that state investigators attempted to contact many of the people named in the Vallejos witness list, however some said they did not even know they were potential witnesses.
It is suspected a number of the names appearing on the defense witness list would be testifying to the character of the defendant.
It is expected the jury call will ask for between 80 and 100 potential jurors for the case to be heard this June.
Judge Tidball disclosed to the defense she knows Drake, and has attended some functions where both women were present.  Judge Tidball said she just wanted to add that to the record, indicating the women are not friends but just know of each other through their legal careers.
Judge Tidball was first appointed as a jurist in the First Judicial District Court in 1998, and retired from the bench there effective July 31, 2013.  Prior to being a judge in the First Judicial District she was a District Court Magistrate in the Twentieth Judicial District.