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The 11th Judicial District Attorney’s office is collapsing Under Linda Stanley

Editorial by Wet Mountain Tribune Editor Jordan Hedberg

“While she laughingly admits to not being the perfect housekeeper, she readily boasts about how well organized she is and how perfectly her files are kept.” This is a quote from then candidate for the 11th Judicial District Attorney Linda Stanley. It was part of a piece written by Fred Hernandez co-owner of the openly right wing partisan pamphlet the Sangre de Cristo Sentinel and printed in June 2020. What is interesting in this quote is why a lawyer would find it necessary to say such a thing in an interview. Sadly, the reality is that Distract Attorney Linda Stanley has proven that not only are her legal files a jumbled mess, but it is not clear she has the capacity to file any legal documents properly at all. And despite multiple sanctions from District Judges and the temporary suspension of her license for failure to complete continuing education, Stanley has run the 11th District Attorney’s office into a state of failure.

Justice is no longer being pursued in the four counties that make up the 11th Judicial District, which includes Custer County. In the past week, a case against a man charged with repeated sexual assault of a minor was dismissed because Stanley repeatedly failed to provide evidence to the defense. In another case where a man admits to executing his father, a judge is considering dismissing or sending him to another judicial district because Stanley has never complied with sharing evidence with the defense. Chaffee County Commissioners evicted the Deputy DA’s office last month from the Chaffee County Court House because Stanley never responded to their repeated requests from last year that they were going to need the space of the DA’s office occupied, but they were willing to help find another location. Since Stanley was sworn into office, murder trials, child sexual assault cases, corruption cases, and even minor offenses have been dismissed because Stanley and her staff never filed the required paperwork.

It would be nice to think that none of this could have been known before she was elected, but the truth is that three Republican Sheriffs, plus multiple people who worked with Stanley, and her own sister (along with a Colorado Supreme Court sanction for an extreme inability to file paperwork) begged the public not to elect her because they claimed she is a liar and not fit for the job.

These lies were exposed by her sister, Sandra Fisher, who wrote a letter to the editor that highlighted Stanley’s fabrications, which included stating that her father was a farmer when he was an accountant. In addition, Stanley stated she was a police officer without mentioning that she failed field training at an agency, and that is why she was forced out. “The Court does find this pattern to be negligent, bordering on reckless,” said Former District Judge Ramsey Lama in June 2022, during the Barry Morphew murder case that she was forced to dismiss because she had failed to share evidence.

But Stanley had two things going for her that overcame a long record of incompetence as an attorney. First, she had pictures of herself shooting assault rifles in all her advertisements (she never took out an advertisement in the Tribune), and she was a Republican.

When former Republican Custer County Sheriff Shannon Byerly wrote letters to the editor supporting Democrat Kaitlin Turner, he was mocked by Sangre de Cristo founder George Gramlich, a former New Jersey Attorney. Gramlich wrote a lengthy piece explaining how voting for a Democrat would end all justice and reprimanded Byerly by explaining that “nobody is perfect, and we forgive Sheriff Shannon Byerly (for endorsing a Democrat).”

I can understand and have sympathy for political party loyalty. But as an unaffiliated voter, I was surprised that alarm bells did not go off in Republican voters’ minds when 75% of the elected Republican Sheriffs first supported former Republican DA Tom Leroux in the primary and, after he lost to Stanley, endorsed the Democratic candidate. In this mix, Stanley’s sister, who served in law enforcement, repeatedly explained that Stanley was lying about her past and her experience.

The only question now is the extent of the damage and how long it will take to repair (if it is ever repaired). There are two Colorado Supreme Court investigations ongoing into Stanley’s activity. With her previous sanctions, she might lose her attorney license, but elected officials cannot be removed from office except by recall, so it is not clear who would run the office. The DA’s office is also nearly bankrupt, with rumors of checks bouncing with the staff. Deputy DAs have resigned. And now cases of serious criminal charges are being dismissed for lack of following basic discovery rules in trials.

Stanley’s only response to the collapse of her office is that “the law enforcement offices failed to share information.” Even when the fate of the DA’s office is on a knife edge, she blames everyone but herself. Justice is not being served in the 11th, and it is a serious risk to every citizen.

– Jordan Hedberg

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