Briefline

Former Colorado public defender, sentenced in revenge porn case, faces attorney discipline

By: - January 12, 2023 3:12 pm

The Colorado Supreme Court building in downtown Denver on July 7, 2021. (Quentin Young/Colorado Newsline)

A former Colorado public defender who pleaded guilty in a revenge porn case now faces misconduct allegations in the state court that disciplines attorneys.

Christopher Melichar was a state public defender at the time he is alleged to have engaged in professional misconduct, according to a complaint obtained by Newsline. The complaint was filed last week by the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel with the Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge.

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Melichar, whose arrest had not previously been reported, is listed as an “active” attorney on the Colorado Supreme Court directory. According to Melichar’s LinkedIn, he is an attorney at Altitude Legal Defense Group in Colorado Springs. His profile says he was a state public defender in Colorado Springs for more than three years until September and a public defender in Westminster for about five years, also until September. The Office of the State Public Defender confirmed to Newsline that it employed Melichar in Colorado Springs and Pueblo starting in April 2019, but the office said his employment ceased after Dec. 31, 2021.

The complaint says Melichar in 2020 began an intimate relationship with a woman who was married with children. During the relationship, Melichar took still and video images of the woman when she was nude, some without her knowledge. After the relationship ended, Melichar sent texts “threatening to share compromising photographs and videos of her with her husband,” the complaint says. When she refused to comply with his demand that she perform sexual acts with him, he shared with her husband a topless photo of her and a video — which she did not know existed — of her performing a sex act with Melichar, the complaint says.

The woman’s husband alerted police, and Melichar was arrested in April 2021. The following month he pleaded guilty to a charge of posting a private image for harassment, a class 1 misdemeanor, and was sentenced to 24 months of supervised probation, including domestic violence counseling.

The state’s assistant regulation counsel, Michele Melnick, alleges Melichar violated professional rules, including one that prohibits an attorney from committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness to act as a lawyer, and another that prohibits an attorney from engaging in conduct that directly, intentionally, and wrongfully harms others.

Melichar did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Lawyers in Colorado are subject to the state’s Rules of Professional Conduct. The attorney regulation counsel investigates alleged violations, and if the counsel decides a case warrants prosecution the case is heard and decided by the Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge.

The judge could impose disciplinary measures, such as suspension of the attorney’s ability to practice law or disbarment.

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