Should Sheriff Maketa Resign?

Due Process Matters

 

Sheriff Terry Maketa, our previously well respected Sheriff of El Paso County, has been asked to resign by several public figures due to accusations of misusing his position. Though the sheriff and all three of the employees of the sheriff’s department accused of intimate relations with the sheriff have denied the allegations, some believe he should go ahead and resign.

If people do not resign, they are able to use the resources of the institution they are serving to ensure due process. In response to allegations, our sheriff emphasizes that a “fair and impartial investigation based on facts and law” will take place and he is insisting that everyone involved should “respect the legal process.”

He’s right. We as a civilization have worked for hundreds of years now to refine our process of determining truth, guilt, and consequences. We decided to start with the presupposition that people are innocent until proven guilty, that they have the right to defend themselves, and that their accusers have to present factual evidence of relevant wrongdoing. We continually work to refine an intricate process of determining which facts are relevant to any particular case, and who is permitted to decide if the allegations against someone are, in fact, applicable. Then, we try to thoughtfully determine the appropriate consequences we as a society should impose on those who violate the law. All of us should respect the processes we’ve established, and the continued evolution of these processes to improve them.

The press distorts this process, and the internet permanently records the distortion.

We instituted and defended the establishment of a free press believing it would protect us. The downside of a free press is that it is largely an unsupervised, unaccountable, maverick press. Because we hope their self-policing efforts are more effective than we would trust in the hands of any other institution, we in the general population read their papers and magazines, and watch or listen to their broadcasts. They influence us to the point that we wrongly believe we know enough about a subject to have an informed opinion. However, many of us who have had first hand knowledge of a situation and then contrast the facts we know with news accounts, too often, find the press inept.

Sheriff Maketa is saying, “let the process work.” The district attorney needs time to do his job. Federal officials and the county need time to establish facts. Only then, after professional investigations and legal reflection, consequences, if necessary, can be decided by appropriate authorities. Should the Sheriff resign, both he and his office would lose full participation and representation in the process.

In the midst of the media frenzy, it’s difficult to have long range judgment. But I think it’s important for all of us that Sheriff Maketa stay in office. I know from first hand experience that there will only be a fair hearing of the facts, and the facts will only have meaning, if he stays in office. Otherwise, the press and the web will spread every rumor and permanently record them, thus creating a permanent rumor-based record that will define the sheriff for the rest of his life, regardless of the facts, and without his having any due process or opportunity for response.

Let me give you a couple of examples of those who quit too soon, and those who kept going.

Judas and Peter both betrayed Jesus. Judas repented, but removed himself from any future representation by killing himself, effectively building a memorial to his betrayal in the minds of every generation since. Peter, in contrast, kept going. He also repented, but only 50 days after his betrayal of Christ, he began publicly preaching. He also wrote letters that are now in the Bible, and he became one of the best known apostles. He is now deeply revered and his betrayal has become only a small portion of his story, not the highlight. St. Peter’s Basilica is an enduring monument to his personal resurrection.

A more contemporary example might be Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Richard Nixon resigned, moved and California and died after Watergate, establishing the Watergate scandal as the only significant item in his life in most people’s minds. In contrast, Clinton’s scandal led to impeachment and disbarment. His offense was clearly an abuse of authority by a person in a position of trust and was followed by an official attempt to cover up, deceive the public and lie to investigators. Yet, we do not think of his violations as significant. Why? Because he kept going. He is a highly respected leader of the Democratic party and, polls show, if he could run again for president he would likely win. Bill Clinton’s scandal has diminished from the defining moment of his life to a chapter, then a page, and now a paragraph. In time, the Clinton scandal will, in effect, become a sentence.

Some of our most important American ideals are being threatened by people reading press reports and making judgments. I do not know anything about the  innocence or guilt regarding our sheriff, but if he resigns, there will be a resounding presumption of guilt. No doubt, once the facts are established, we all support accountability and justice. We have a system for that, but if we are not careful, we all might unintentionally participate in the dismantling of that system by returning to, in effect, lynch mobs. Even if the accused is guilty, shouldn’t someone protect them from the crowd until the facts are established?

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19 thoughts on “Should Sheriff Maketa Resign?

  1. Kevin Lewis says:

    I do not think he should resign!
    We don’t resign on allegations.
    I want to put out a press release and hand it to the media for distribution to the public stating. “Business owner demands Sheriff Maketa to continue on as Sheriff. Business as usual”!
    Kevin Lewis

  2. Graham says:

    The Sheriff should not resign for (inter alia) the following reasons:
    a) Both First Century Roman Law and the Common Law hold that “Proof lies on him who asserts, not on him who denies”
    b) The US Constitution makes similar provision and in Coffin v United States (1895) the court held that: The principle that there is a presumption of innocence in favor of the accused is the undoubted law, axiomatic and elementary, and its enforcement lies at the foundation of the administration of our criminal law.
    c) It is not for individuals, in possession of denied accusations, to attempt to circumvent the investigative processes of Institutions nor the due process of law.

  3. Tim says:

    The other aspect of this issue of getting the sheriff to resign is someone else is in the queue to take the vacancy. Who would that be? Is this a way to skirt the election process?

    • I don’t think so. One of the other guys would serve until the fall election. So the issue isn’t who will follow and whether or not there is integrity in that process, but rather whether or not the press and the public should decide, or if due process is still relevant?

  4. Agreed. To resign would not be in alignment with the presumption of innocence. By law he is presumed innocent and guilt must be proven. And since he is in a state of innocence, until proven otherwise, there is no reason to resign his position. Resignation sets a poor precedence that in many cases has wrecked careers, families, and lives based on allegation alone. A person should not have to give up their job and be disadvantaged as he or she goes through due process because of the words “I accuse you”.

  5. dread7 says:

    BOLD and sure to engender reaction. But this discussion must go forward.

  6. Travis Waits says:

    There is never due process in the court of public opinion, he should not resign.

    It is unfortunate what people will believe. We have gravitated toward a society in which there is no due process in the court of public opinion. I believe this is most prevalent within the evangelical church (where we judge and condemn one another based on gossip), and within the media because the more salacious the more it must be true, (or at least get hits on twitter…). I also think this is primarily prevalent on oversight boards, whether that be organizational boards or ethical boards because they are fear driven from our culture of litigation.

    Hurt people hurt people. I get that. But it still wounds none the less. When we are afraid, angry, hurt we lose our ability to be empathetic, objective, and clear minded.

    I would not be a grace filled truth teller if I did not fully communicate the whole story. Yes, I made mistakes that I wish I could take back. Are those as bad as you read about in allegation reports, google, and news articles?

    Not even close. But most will believe what they read as unchallenged fact.

    I didn’t walk away. But I also didn’t follow the ‘powers that be’ definition of “restoration.” I took the high ground and chose not to confront any rumor, refute any allegation posted, or return any angry email or letter I received.

    In hindsight, I made the wrong move and should have spoke up through the process and stood my ground. When you are made out to be the villain that “must be punished” you must become your own advocate and speak up. Sherriff Maketa should stand his ground and let the facts speak for themselves.

    http://traviswaits.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/the-true-story/

    http://www.traviswaits.com/therapist-pastor-travis-waits-ethics-authenticity/

  7. Jeremy says:

    Thank you for a voice of reason in the midst of chaos! Good to remember your advice here as it has such a godly, righteous ring to it.

  8. Deb says:

    I met Terry Maketa a few times and was very impressed with his leadership, compassion, and strong stance on American values. When this story first broke I felt something was fishy or politically motivated. But, then….what do I know? I’m amazed at the power of the media and the stupidity of unrelated and uninformed people who think they have the right to give an opinion and make a judgment on something they know nothing about. I have no knowledge and therefore no right to judge and give him a lot of credit for standing up for his legal rights. God looked upon the heart of King David, and despite his grave and selfish mistakes, he was still the king. May justice prevail.

  9. Jude Hawkins says:

    I have known of situations with different individuals that when the person resigns from a company, the former co-worker is treated like waste. It is as if the current employee cannot be seen in public with the former co-worker, or else the current employee job could be in jeopardy.

    I agree that when you resign from any position of authority you are no longer in the same position to make sure justice is carried out and not simply a smear campaign. Some people who you thought was your friend when you resign, you later find out is willing to jump ship against you.

    In the Bible, King David showed kindness to King’s Saul grandson Mephibosheth. King Saul’s grandson, Mephibosheth, not only ate bread at King David’s table continually. King David also gave Mephibosheth all the land his grandfather, King Saul once possessed (see 2 Samuel 9:6-7). However, when King David’s son Absalom forced King David out of power, Mephibosheth quickly forgot about King David and became loyal to the new king.

    As we know in any court for justice to take place there is a defense attorney and a prosecuting attorney. Many times the goal for a person in a position of authority to resign in the middle of the investigation is to SILENCE their voice. So there is only ONE side that is presented to the public. We need both sides presented. The goal of a smear campaign is for the public to forget all the hard work someone has done for them. So when that person’s name is mentioned you think whatever the rumor is. The rumor could be a lie.
    For justice to be served, I agree with Pastor Ted that Sheriff Terry Maketa should NOT resign. We should allow due process.

  10. jackamus says:

    Why is it that when someone in the public eye gets into trouble for their own moral failing that suddenly we blame the internet and media for the issue? You can’t blame them for reporting the story and it if was wrong, most “good” print, radio and TV news outlets will retract the story. It’s time to own up to the mistakes we’ve made. With that said…. I don’t care who the man sleeps with. Last time I checked the law doesn’t control our sex life (well in some states) but nor does that excuse his behavior. Also, with that said, he is a public official upholding the law and in whomever bed he is in, does nothing to stop him from serving his duty. But this goes beyond that. He should be on leave (paid or unpaid, I really don’t care) so that due process can be served.

    and finally… Pastor Ted the story also, to me, has another underlying point. It seems to me (and I can be wrong as I often am) that you regret how you handled your own scandal. It seems to me that in retrospect you wish you had done things different. No matter what we do we are going to be followed by our scandal. We may reminded of it less often, but it is there.

    disclaimer: I am not a writer so, if anyone plans to “flame” me because of that; you’ll make me sad. ;-)

    • You make a good observation about the press, but that raises my point about due process. The press is instant, reports everything anyone will say, and creates a permanent record that is available to everyone, anytime, everywhere. In contrast to that we have a slow, methodical judicial process that will eventually make a decision, but you say the press will print a retraction . . . you are dreaming. For example, Richard Roberts was fired because two employees sued him. The global press had a feeding frenzy reporting everything they could find that anyone would say. The courts threw the lawsuit out, the news did cover it on the back page, and Roberts was largely ruined. Another example, me. My accuser failed his lie detector test, and I passed four tests proving the accusations were not true. The press did not report it. They have endlessly reported that I did not complete the restoration process, but have never asked “What was the restoration process?” and “What portion did he not complete?” Why? Because they are not journalists. There never was a restoration process. There was a contract, but it did not include any restoration process. And yes, I submitted to it until it was released. I never had any due process. To this day no one in authority has ever asked me what actually happened, and when people approach me on the street to talk about it, when I ask them what actually happened, they are embarrassed when they realize that they do not actually know. I have yet to see one article in print media that has the facts correct. Why do government offices and corporations, and every public figure for that matter, hire professionals to manage the press? It’s because they are not trustworthy. But my subject in this blog is not me or the press, it’s whether or not the sheriff should resign or not in order to increase the potential of a fair hearing. I simply argue that if he resigns his chances of due process diminish.

    • Tim says:

      A retraction for publishing some incorrect information only resolves the integrity of the publisher. It does not restore the accused or offended individual or issue. It cannot retract the impact of misinformation to the majority of the public. Only a very small portion of that public may read the retraction and re-assess their beliefs or positions based on the retraction.
      Some of our current politicians are so great at constantly “misspeaking” or misinforming, or outright lying so much that it is perceived as the truth. (ahem, Barry, Al, Kathleen, Nancy, Eric…)
      When someone begins pointing their fingers so vigorously at one issue, I begin to wonder what their other hand is doing while we are looking at the “alleged” issue being pointed out.

  11. Jeff says:

    Have we missed the point here? It is not about guilt or innocence. Yes, based on the allegations there are several people involved in this issue that need to be investigated and depending on the outcome charges should be filed or not. That issue needs to be set aside for the moment and if it were the only issue I would not disagree with the majority of the responses.

    First of all let me say some things about Sheriff Maketa. From the outside looking in he seems to be a great sheriff. His public leadership through multiple county emergencies has been a breath of fresh air. Every time I have talked with him personally I have been impressed with his desire to protect the people, truth and justice. On every occasion I have had to interact with the Sheriff’s office I have always been treated with courtesy and respect; that says something about the department he runs. I am convinced that Terry Maketa saved a member of my family by personally stepping in when other law enforcement agencies would not act (I am not overstating this). He is a hero in my book for that and always will be no matter what!

    Some of you say you or he had a “moral failing”. Can we please stop with this type of shaming talk? Why is it when someone sins and it is related to sex we feel the need to try and make that sin worse than many others. We set ourselves above others by saying they had a “moral failing”, whether we mean to or not. The insinuation is you are better than them because you have not had a “moral failing”. STOP IT, newsflash…you are a sinner too. It is a sin; no better or worse than any other. Committing that particular sin will not send you to hell nor will not committing it get you to Heaven. It is a thing we did, not a definition of who we are (unless we choose to let it define us). It is an impediment to the healing process for all involved to look down on folks who have sinned in this way. I submit when you set yourself above others you are sinning, like the brood of vipers Jesus referred to. STOP IT!

    Why do some of us sin in certain ways? More often than not there are reasons (not excuses) that have contributed to establishing neuropathways in our brains that inhibit our ability to make the correct decision in certain situations. Why does an alcoholic drink when he hates it? To dull the pain (replace “to dull the pain” with “to feel something different” if you please). Why does a drug addict take drugs when he wishes he could stop? To dull the pain. Why does a sex addict look at porn, go to GEFs, get so-called massages, have multiple affairs or visit prostitutes? To dull the pain. Why does someone cut? To dull the pain. Why do food addicts overeat? To dull the pain. Why do anorexics withhold? To dull the pain. Why do shopaholics shop? Why do workaholics work? The good news is we can develop new pathways to lessen the drive of the unhealthy pathways. It is not as easy as speak it and it will be so.

    Too often our answer to so called moral failings is ” You just need to be a better Christian”, “You just need to seek Christ more and then you won’t be tempted to do these horrible things.” “You just need to stop …(insert whatever vice you wish)”. Unfortunately we sometime tell ourselves these things. Yet we know that is not the answer. God rarely heals us of addictions instantly. We all know a drug addict needs help through a process to be healed. We know most Alcoholics need AA to be successful. Why do we insist on shaming folks with other addictions by saying absurd things like this. We only show our own insensitivity and lack of caring and love. What was that greatest commandment again?

    Sheriff Maketa evidently has committed a sin. Newsflash…the condition he suffers from is called the human condition, maybe you have heard of it. If Terry Maketa decides he is dealing with a problem that needs attention to heal from, I offer to him that there is help available, here in Colorado Springs and I personally reach out my hand to him. “neither do I condemn thee” I can be contacted through St James Church. It takes a brave person to travel the path to wellness, braver than most can imagine!

    Warning! The next paragraph is out of place but I have to say it.

    STOP being victims! Take responsibility for your actions. Perhaps you didn’t do all the things the press reported, or others reported. So what. You did something, right? Perhaps the rest is just part of the consequences for what you did do. Again, I say so what! God uses all things for good. Some of you act like there shouldn’t be any consequences. If you want healing, you need to do the hard work and stop believing you are a victim. You can never completely heal until you stop allowing yourself to be a victim).

    The issue is Terry Maketa is elected to the office of Sheriff, El Paso County. It is a position of public trust. We, the public entrusted him with our confidence in him by voting for him, not once but three times. Whether he has done anything illegal is not the issue. Whether he had affairs or not is not the issue. There are no relevant facts that are the issue. The issue is simply this: Does he still have the trust of the public? He serves at the pleasure of the public. It is evident he has lost credibility with some as demonstrated by the 5-0 vote of the commissioners (who have seen much of the salacious information contained on county owned computers and networks). We, the public, could recall Sheriff Maketa to establish if he truly continues to have the public trust or he could do the honorable thing and resign his position in order to allow the county to move forward and put this behind us and everyone start healing from it.

    What about the others involved you might say? That’s a whole other topic!

    Some resources for those struggling but desiring to develop new pathways:

    Center for Biblical Healing – http://www.healing-center.org/
    Heart to Heart Counseling Center – https://www.sexaddict.com
    Healing Hearts Therapy – http://healingheartstherapy.net/
    Eleven-Six Counseling – http://elevensixcounseling.com

  12. Walt says:

    My response to your blog post is intended to be a point if discussion. It is not intended to be a response of argument.

    I would strongly agree with the intent of your position. I may not agree with the outcome for various reasons I will list for dialogue.

    I agree that there is nothing people like more than taking on a bully position with people in public office and people in high profile positions. It seems the public gets their kicks out of seeing these people fall. They have even more fun kicking them when they are down. That is human nature because it serves the purpose of making those people’s shortcomings look better I their eyes and it helps ease the guilt brought on by those shortcomings. An online web page from the Gazette has a poll on whether Maketa should resign or not. The results are 82% say yes and 18% say no. I am quite sure most of the voters of the poll had not taken the time to analyze the media’s reporting on the issue. On that point you are spot on.

    However, there are other things that one might see from a different perspective and I offer them for consideration. I will only hit on a few for sake of wording and time.

    You make a point that the press distorts the process. I would agree most of the time they do but not always. Armed with this knowledge anyone in public office or in a high profile position with influence must be aware of this fact at all times. To not do so is really negligence and disrespect for their position. This requires a personal responsibility and respect which requires the individual to assure there is a degree of separation between themselves and anything that can be used against them,. I have been in a position if influence for quite a while. The rule I use is simple. Never, email (work or personal), write, text, or say anything that you would not want being made public. Also, never allow any actions to seem as though they are unfairly weighted towards the few. Not doing so will bite someone every time.

    Most of the evidence against Maketa is hearsay or circumstantial. This is where I agree with you again. In my world, this is where people tend to take their best guess at what happened and present it as truth. This is also where the accused takes a hard line stance of innocence while holding a smoking gun, as we find in the case of Maketa if one does a careful study of the documented events like changing the policy manual, etc.

    I also doubt that 500 sexually expressive emails and texts (as reported by the Gazette) were fabricated or was an effort to frame Maketa by someone inside the office. So he was guilty of abusing his power and influence. And, this is where I disagree for the sake of discussion. In my world of business, I would be fired for doing that, since I am not elected nor am I in a self-made place of influence. It also is in conflict with personal ethics. I am employed and have worked my way up and have power but this action would not be tolerated and I would be on leave until an investigation was performed. Because of that, Maketa should not get to call the shots, since it was his actions that started the small fire leading to the scandal. Yes the press is brutal but we personal decisions are brutal too. The press is not a scape goat for those choices.

    Do I know the whole truth behind this scandal? I do not. I also do not think our most important ideas in this country are being threatened. I think they are being challenged to do the right thing and get to the truth. I agree with you premise on that.

    Lastly, I agree that sexual scandal should not scar a person for life as in the case of Clinton. Did he do what he was accused of, who knows? Did Maketa do what he is accused of, we will find out, I hope, through the truth of the evidence. Clinton and Maketa doing something inappropriate is not even in question for the evidence (even the evidence in the press) points to the fact they both did something to lead people into thinking this way. And, even if they did not, they let themselves get caught not protecting their integrity. That is inappropriate. Once this sort of event happens the position and application of that position become ineffective. Nixon and Clinton were both ineffective after their scandal, Clinton less so because of the lack of hard core evidence (there were no tapes).

    Lastly, I agree with you that the process must be allowed to work before any life is destroyed.

  13. Caleb says:

    You all seem to be unaware, but letters and texts that remove any actual doubt are publicly available right now. Due process should be followed, which means that he will end up in a court room, but he should also acknowledge his utter incompetence and abuse of power by resigning. There is no argument that can be made otherwise.

  14. When an elected official’s effectiveness is impaired because controversy fueled by a shirtless selfie sent to a subordinate, it may be in the public’s best interests that official step aside. With today’s departure Under sheriff Presley, that consideration takes a new urgency.

  15. I must respectfully disagree with your points. 1. the 500 emails prove without a shadow of a doubt that the Sheriff was having intimate sexual relationships with these three women. There is no more “proof” needed. 2. He was engaging in these relationships, furthering them, and communicating about them via a government, tax payer paid for communication device ie: computer. Blatant misuse of public, tax payer paid for hardware.

    This is a man who is a position of authority, charged with enforcing the laws of our county, he has had a major lapse in judgement for apparently quite a few years, he can no longer be trusted, nor can he effectively run his office, nor can the Undersheriff, (who has apparently become ill in light of the present circumstance). They have violated the public trust, and broken laws. They should do the right thing and resign immediately.

    If they are truly good people, who have made a bad mistake, they should be brave enough to own up to it, admit it, and walk away. They broke a sacred trust that the public has in our law enforcement officials to uphold the laws of this county, and be held to a higher standard of behavior.

  16. William P. Murray says:

    We have accidently put ourselves in a bind here. As an elected official, he is entitled to representation. And that has already started. Paid by the taxpayers. If he resigns, he will not longer have this protection. Also, Ms Presley would assume command. However, she has also been named as a friend of the sheriff. In 2010, when the Independent first reported this and as Commissioner Glenn has pointed out as “the worst kept secret”, we have turned a blind eye to this type of accountability. These situations rarely get better with age. However we seem to have built a culture of invincibility around Sheriff Maketa. But no matter how much he did correctly, he will leave this post in shambles with considerable liabilities to our community. There are no excuses that will overcome this end result. We need to review our checks and balances, keep close scrutiny and ‘mind the store’ rather than blissfully ignore the obvious. This is what democracy is all about. Sweeping this under the rug by trying to contain the damage will not help resolve these issues. Only an independent assessor will be able to place everyone under oath and find out “what really happened here.” Everything else will appear as whitewash.

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