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Former San Luis Valley District Attorney disbarred from practicing law in Colorado

SAN LUIS VALLEY, Colo. (KRDO) -- Former 12th Judicial District Attorney Alonzo Payne is disbarred from practicing law in the state of Colorado. The order was approved by the Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge - a branch of the Colorado Supreme Court - on Wednesday.

According to the order, both the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel and Payne agreed to the "Stipulation to Discipline" that was filed with the Presiding Disciplinary Judge on Monday. It's unclear why Payne would sign off on his own disbarment.

Payne's disbarment officially goes into effect on October 26.

Alonzo Payne

The 12th Judicial District, located in the San Luis Valley, went without an official DA for weeks after Payne resigned from the position on July 13. Before stepping down, Payne had been at the center of a recall effort and an investigation by the Colorado Attorney General's Office.

After a seven-month investigation, the Colorado Attorney General found that Payne repeatedly violated the rights of crime victims.

"Not only have I not seen victims rights act violations of this magnitude, but in the entirety of the victims' rights act in Colorado history, we have never gotten to this point," Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said.

According to Wednesday's order obtained by 13 Investigates, Payne violated several of the Colorado Supreme Court's Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys. Some of these violations include failing to provide competent representation to a client, failing to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client, and representing a client when that representation involves a conflict of interest.

The order goes on to accuse Payne of knowingly making a false statement regarding the facts or the law to the courts or a judge.  The order says Payne engaged in dishonest and deceitful conduct. 

In an email to 13 Investigates, a spokesperson for the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, who filed the stipulation, said that only Payne can answer the question as to why he agreed to the resolution.

"The alternative to a stipulation was that the Presiding Disciplinary Judge would convene a hearing board and hold formal proceedings, likely involving many days of testimony from many witnesses and incurring significant additional costs, in which the hearing board would have decided whether Mr. Payne should be disbarred," the spokesperson said via email when 13 Investigates asked if Payne possessed an alternative to disbarment.

Payne is required to comply with the order by “winding up” his affairs, which include informing current clients of his disbarment and providing notice to other jurisdictions where he is licensed or authorized to practice law. 

Payne has 14 days to file an affidavit with the Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge attesting to his compliance with the disbarment order. 

After weeks of being run by the state, Colorado Governor Jared Polis appointed Anne Kelly, a former Boulder County deputy district attorney, to take over the legal responsibilities in the San Luis Valley.

Kelly officially took over the responsibilities of the office late last month. The new DA told 13 Investigates that holding violent criminals accountable will be at the top of her list of priorities.

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Dan Beedie

Dan is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about Dan here.

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