Briefline

Former San Luis Valley district attorney disbarred following misconduct

By: - September 23, 2022 2:55 pm
Colorado Judicial Center

A photograph of the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)

A Colorado judge signed off this week on the disbarment of the former San Luis Valley district attorney, who resigned in July after the state found Victim Rights Act violations in his office.

The decision from the state’s presiding disciplinary judge said former 12th Judicial District Attorney Alonzo Payne failed to diligently supervise his employees who at times “ignored, belittled, and shouted at victims,” investigations found. 

An investigation by the Department of Law also found that victims of crimes under Payne’s jurisdiction had not been updated on the status of cases, as required under state law, putting some victims’ safety at risk. Gov. Jared Polis appointed Anne Kelly to take over the DA’s office, where she started in September. 

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Prior to Payne’s resignation, Attorney General Phil Weiser required mandatory staff training for the office and appointed an outside monitor to ensure improvements, and since Payne resigned, the agreement will remain in place for six months.

The judge’s decision released this week also noted that Payne’s office had a “significant backlog” of cases and left warrants relating to severe crimes untouched for months. 

“Payne’s failure to prosecute defendants had a negative effect on law enforcement’s and the public’s willingness to report crimes, harming law enforcement efforts and the community,” the decision said. 

The ruling mentioned several other instances of misconduct as well, including multiple times Payne, a Democrat, shared false statements regarding cases with his staff, the courts, and victims while also neglecting to keep victims updated in their cases.

Payne’s disbarment will take effect on Oct. 26.

Payne, Stipulation to Discipline, 22PDJ033, 09-21-22

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Lindsey Toomer
Lindsey Toomer

Lindsey Toomer covers politics, social justice and other stories for Newsline. She formerly reported on city government at the Denver Gazette and on Colorado mountain town government, education and environment at the Summit Daily News. Toomer graduated from the Pennsylvania State University, where she also served as managing editor of The Daily Collegian, with degrees in journalism and global studies.

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