News Release|

ARAPAHOE COUNTY — Today, District Attorney John Kellner formally announced that he will not seek re-election in the 18th Judicial District. Kellner’s term expires in January 2025.

“It has been an honor and privilege to lead a dedicated team of prosecutors in Colorado’s largest judicial district,” District Attorney John Kellner said. “While we have faced many challenges together, we’ve also celebrated many more achievements in our ongoing pursuit of seeking justice and ensuring the safety of our community. This was an extremely difficult decision to make. After 20 years of public service from my time in the Marine Corps to my time as a state prosecutor, it’s simply the right time for a new challenge.”

DA Kellner’s top accomplishments include:


  • Launching a groundbreaking data transparency project for the 18th Judicial District and leading the effort for district attorney offices statewide to do the same. The 18th Judicial District’s public-facing dashboard gives citizens, community leaders and media an inside look into our criminal justice system through accurate crime data, prosecutorial statistics, and in-depth analytics. Kellner’s commitment to rebuild trust in the justice system by being open and transparent did not go unnoticed. In the last couple of years, several District Attorneys across Colorado have followed our transparency model by launching their own data transparency initiatives.


  • Advocating for legislative changes to protect victims and hold offenders accountable for their actions. Throughout Kellner’s term in office, he successfully advocated for tougher penalties for car thieves, drug dealers, and offenders of bias-motivated crimes. Motor vehicle theft incidents increased 162% between 2019 and 2022. During that period, the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office filed 56% more Motor Vehicle Theft (MVT) cases in 2022 compared to 2019. We’ve since witnessed our MVT statistics drop 14% below the overall Colorado Crime Rate for car theft incidents. Kellner also supported legislation to hold fentanyl dealers accountable for selling poison that claimed the lives of adults, children, and teens across Colorado. Kellner also fought hard to make sure bias-motivated crimes of any kind will be met with harsher penalties through SB 21-280.
  • Aggressively prosecuting dangerous criminals who engage in violent crime. In 2019, we filed 273 weapons cases. In 2023, we filed 363—a 33% increase. In 2019, we also filed 4,835 “crimes against persons.” Last year under the Kellner Administration, we filed 5,476 cases—a 13% increase in filings for such cases. We’ve also witnessed rape and shoplifting incidents falling approximately 20% in 2023 when compared to 2019.


  • Establishing an Organized Crime Unit (OCU) to investigate complex criminal enterprises. This unit works closely with our law enforcement partners to identify and apprehend fugitives who are involved in a pattern of crimes, such as organized car theft, retail theft, drug trafficking, aggravated robberies and gang-related assaults and murders. One recent example highlighting the success of this unit centers around a 54-count grand jury indictment in 2022. Six individuals were apprehended for their roles in running a sophisticated criminal enterprise involving identity theft, forgery, aggravated motor vehicle theft, aggravated robbery, and attempted murders. You can read more about this case here.

18th Judicial DA John Kellner

“While some jurisdictions may take a softer approach to crime, my staff and I stand up for victims and their rights,” Kellner said. “I’m blessed to have an incredible team of dedicated professionals who support our mission. The success of my office could not have been accomplished without their leadership.”

During Kellner’s term, he worked tirelessly to improve relationships with constituents through community outreach and engagement. In addition to publishing a monthly newsletter to keep staff and citizens up to date on current cases and events, he hosts multiple town halls throughout the year and routinely speaks at our Fall Citizens Academy. This 7-week long course gives everyday residents an opportunity to learn about our specialized units and prosecutorial processes.

Kellner also spearheaded our Warrant Forgiveness Program to help address the backlog of cases post-COVID by giving low-level offenders a second chance to get back on their feet.

“Not every criminal case warrants a prison or jail sentence,” Kellner said. “We are not here to destroy someone’s life over a minor offense—that’s not what our system is designed to do. I recognize that people make mistakes—we’re all human. When we host and support programs that allow lower-level offenders to resolve their cases with minimal time in court, we’re able to dedicate more resources toward prosecuting high-level felony cases that threaten our communities.”

Kellner is also proud of opening an office for Diversion counseling in Aurora back in 2021. Diversion programs pair people with counseling and other resources to reduce their risk of re-offending. People who successfully complete Diversion have their criminal case dismissed.

“For many years, my Office has had an incredibly successful Diversion program,” Kellner said. “Based on the positive outcomes I’ve witnessed, I made it a priority to add resources to bolster its success. I want more people to have access to the support they need to hopefully keep them out of the criminal justice system in the long term.”

Prior to being elected as District Attorney, Kellner served as a line prosecutor, Senior Deputy DA, and Chief Deputy DA. He also launched the district’s first Cold Case Unit. While he has prosecuted hundreds of cases throughout the years, his most notable case involved the 2022 conviction of serial murderer Alex Ewing, also known as the “hammer killer” following a series of rapes and murders back in the 1980’s.

As Kellner reflects on his career accomplishments in the 18th Judicial District, he’ll continue serving the communities of Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln Counties until the judicial district splits on January 7, 2025. Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln Counties will form the new 23rd Judicial District, while Arapahoe County will remain in the 18th Judicial District.

“While we’re working hard to ensure a smooth transition in breaking up our large district into two smaller ones, much of the success lies in implementing the plans from the groundwork this Administration established,” Kellner said. “I’m excited for the future and I’m confident I’m leaving this office in good hands. There are many seasoned leaders here. No words can ever express how proud I am of being able to watch our younger generation of attorneys and staff grow in their roles as advocates for the justice system.”


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