(Update: The Office of Attorney Regulation ordered a 10-day hearing June 10 – 21 over the matters brought in the complaint against District Attorney Linda Stanley)
As the Tribune went to press on Tuesday, 11th Judicial District Attorney Linda Stanley faced the hearing Judge for the Office of Attorney Regulation (OAR), a branch of the Colorado Supreme Court, for a series of allegations that could end in her disbarment as an attorney. According to Tribune sources, Stanley was offered a one-year disbarment by the Office of Attorney Regulation, but she refused it and has since used taxpayer dollars to fund her legal defense.
Stanley was accused by the OAR of intimidating a Judge of the 11th Judicial District by starting an unfounded investigation after her team had been punished for violating evidence discovery rules in the high-profile Suzanne Morphew murder prosecution. In addition, she was accused of legal defamation of a defendant by giving an interview to a news station. In that interview, she made defamatory statements about the defendant that forced every Judge in the 11th Judicial District to recuse themselves from the case because they had seen the television interview. The remarks by Stanley were in violation of the code of ethics for attorneys that presume that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty. The case had to be moved to the 4th Judicial District, which is based out of El Paso County.
On December 18, Stanley’s attorney filed a response to the allegations. It must be noted that her attorney, Steven Jensen, who had replaced Stanley’s first attorney, filed a motion to extend the deadline for a myriad of reasons, which included his involvement in a Christmas Choir performance, surgery, and vacation with family members. The OAR Judge gave a 14-day extension instead of the requested three-month extension that would have placed the hearing into March.
In Stanley’s 42-page response filed by her attorney, Stanley tries to thread the needle by admitting that most of the facts were true but that the conclusion of any attorney ethical violations was fake news. She claimed that when she started a criminal investigation of the sitting judge in the Morphew case, she was not the person who started the investigation. Instead, she claims that her team were the ones that took the lead in the investigation after reading an online petition started by a YouTube channel that had achieved several hundred signatures. While she admits that she talked with the team, she did not begin the investigation herself. This claim is countered by the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office and the Fremont Counties Office which claimed it was Stanley that asked them to start an investigation into then Judge Lama, which they refused.
As for the television interview that forced every Judge in the 11th Judicial District to recuse themselves, Stanley claims that she had made the statements “off the record” to KRDO Channel 13. Even though she had a microphone attached to her jacket and knew a camera was recording, she claimed that she had made the statements about the defendant off the record. However, First Amendment attorney Steve Zansberg, who is representing KRDO (and who has also represented the Tribune), stated to the OAR that the video evidence shows that Stanley never said to KRDO that she was “off the record.”
Stanley has been punished repeatedly by the Supreme Court. She was censured for failing to remove herself properly from a client’s case and then trying to sue him for payments that she had not worked for, plus losing her license for a two weeks in June 2022 when she failed to take required continuing education credits as District Attorney.
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge will likely revoke Stanley’s attorney’s license, perhaps permanently, for her continued violation of the ethics standards set for attorneys. If this happens, an acting District Attorney will be appointed by a judge until the office of the Governor of Colorado selects a new District Attorney to fill Stanley’s term. Linda Stanley will have the ability to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, but it is not known when that would take place nor how long a review of her case will take.
2024 is an election year, meaning that any appointment by the Governor’s office would be short-lived. So far, two Republicans have announced that they will vie for the position.
– Jordan Hedberg