Mark Thompson

Judge Mark Thompson

A judge on Wednesday unsealed records in the case of the former chief judge of Colorado’s 5th Judicial District who has been charged with felony menacing, making the case’s complaint and summons publicly accessible for the first time.

Fifth Judicial District Attorney Heidi McCollum filed the charge against Judge Mark Thompson, 54, on Saturday in Summit County. Records show Thompson has been issued a summons for Dec. 17.

Thompson served as chief judge of the 5th Judicial District, but Judge Paul Dunkelman has been named interim head of the district while Thompson’s case is pending.

A person commits felony menacing when they cause someone to fear serious injury by threatening them with a deadly weapon or something that looks like one — or tell the person they have a weapon.

The charge stems from an incident on July 25, according to the complaint released Wednesday. It describes the deadly weapon in question as an AR-15-style rifle. The document otherwise doesn’t contain specific details about the incident Thompson is accused for.

The charge carries one to three years in prison and two years of mandatory parole, according to Colorado's sentencing scheme.

The Denver Gazette has reached out to Thompson’s defense attorney for comment.

McCollum requested a temporary seal of the case documents when the charge was filed against Thompson, citing concerns about destruction or hiding of evidence and tampering with witnesses based on information contained in the documents. The motion alludes to Thompson’s status as a “prominent member” of the community and public official in Summit County.

“The release at this time of any of the documents of record in this matter … could jeopardize the ongoing investigation and/or interfere with the rights of the defendant, including irreversible harm to reputation, and the defendant’s and the People’s right to a fair trial," said the motion.

The sealing garnered attention this week because Rule 55.1 of the Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure requires judges to issue publicly available orders when limiting access to criminal case records that lay out the reasoning for their decision and why limiting access outweighs the public’s presumptive ability to access the records. But the order granting the sealing request issued by Dunkelman did not contain reasoning.

The 5th Judicial District still has jurisdiction over Thompson’s case, but prosecutors in the 1st Judicial District have been assigned to handle it. Judge Sean Finn of the 17th Judicial District is presiding.

Colorado Bureau of Investigation spokesperson Susan Medina confirmed the agency aided with the investigation into Thompson at the request of the 5th Judicial District, but didn't provide the specific reason.

She said CBI agents did interviews and provided information to the 1st Judicial District on Sept. 2, and referred reporters to that office for more information. District attorney spokesperson Michael Teague declined to comment on the case, citing state ethical conduct rules for attorneys.