Press "Enter" to skip to content

How true crime YouTubers may cost three Colorado prosecutors their professions

 New life in an old genre

In 2014, the centuries-old genre of true crime found a new medium in the form of a podcast titled Serial, which followed the murder and prosecution of a young man in Baltimore in 1999. The finely-produced narrative series helped kickstart a new communication medium known as the podcast, eventually evolving from a curiosity into a mass medium now competing with television and radio. But like all the true crime works that came before, questions about the ethics and prejudices of the person telling the story bubbled to the surface. The Atlantic Monthly, at the time, wrote an article titled Serial Episode 8: A Study in Bias? This review examined the human tendency to favor information that strengthens beliefs and discards anything that threatens our preferred narrative. Grandmothers call this form of self-delusion “cherry picking.”

Since Serial first aired, the true crime genre has exploded in popularity. From record-setting Netflix shows to television series selling crime as casual entertainment, the true crime genre has returned to popular culture with a vengeance. Of course, selling stories of violent crime is nothing new. Before the printing press, executions of alleged criminals were often a festive event. With the advent of the printing press and mass media, books and pamphlets quickly appeared, tracking the stories of debauchery and prosecution, which were mostly sensationalized and loose with the truth. By the 1900s, it was newspapers that competed to cover specific trials and crimes, printing up to three newspaper editions a day and competing to win the attention of hundreds of millions of readers across the world. With tight deadlines, truth was often set aside in favor of hyperbole.

All the bias, embellishment, and conspiracy that defined true crime before modernity moved to an online space where anyone with a cellphone camera could start their own true crime channels. These YouTube channels range from the 5.5 million subscribers of JCS Criminal Psychology with headlines such as “Son spends $275,000 of Dad’s Money on Virtual Girlfriend” to a channel hosted by a former Navy SEAL who calls himself MrBallen. Context is needed to show how this once-niche genre is now a thriving cultural phenomenon. For example, at best, Fox News, the most-watched television news channel in the United States, has a primetime viewership of 1.7 million people. Any of MrBallen’s episodes gets at least one million views per video, with most averaging at least three million views. Mainstream media is no longer the only, or even close to being, the most significant seller of information on criminal human actions.

The 11 Judicial District Attorney turns to YouTube

“Linda, welcome to the podcast. It is really nice to have you here, I have just one question I have to ask because it is one more piece of this puzzle in your amazing career, and frankly, it brought this huge smile to my face when I read it; you even worked as a long-haul truck driver?”

That is how host Mike King of the Profiling Evil video podcast introduced newly sworn-in 11th Colorado Judicial District Attorney Linda Stanley, which premiered on April 30, 2021. Stanley had recently won an election by a two-to-one margin over the serving Democratic District Attorney Kaitlin Turner in 2020. The 11th Judicial District covers thousands of square miles of mountainous territory in the central Colorado Rockies, comprising seven law enforcement agencies in the four counties of Fremont, Chaffee, Park, and Custer.

Mike King started the conversation. “I was pleased to see that you not only had an academic background and true prosecutor experience, but the fact that you served as a police officer in Denver was, to me was, one of the biggest bonuses in a District Attorney I have seen in a long time. How has that experience as a police officer helped you in your role as a District Attorney?” Stanley quickly corrected the host and stated she was an officer in the Denver metro area, not Denver, and that she was just a local driver and had not worked long-haul. But these initial fact checks did not slow down the conversation, and both host and interviewee got into a comfortable groove.

The interview seems innocuous, with back-and-forth banter about the state of the criminal justice system in the nation and Colorado. But the reason Stanley was invited for the interview was because YouTube and the internet were obsessed about the disappearance of Suzanne Morphew from her Salida, Colorado, home on May 6, 2020. If it were not for the viral story that surrounded the disappearance of Suzanne, none of what followed would have taken place.

Coincidence does not exist for Stanley

Mike King never asked much about Suzanne Morphew in that first episode with Linda, but his interest in a recent case in the district shed the first light into Stanley’s core beliefs. Towards the end of the interview, King brought up the February 24, 2021, arrest of Alan Phillips, who was a suspect in the 1982 unsolved killings of two women near Breckenridge. New DNA evidence was found, and Phillips was arrested and later convicted almost 40 years after the murders. When asked how she was so confident about arresting the cold case killer, Stanley said she knew because the name Oberholtzer, which was the last name of one of the victims in 1982, was also the name of the family who had won on the national television show Family Feud the night before the arrest. “Right there, I knew everything was going to be ok… that is not a very common name, and that was not a coincidence; there is no such thing as coincidence.” Stanley scrolled through her phone and showed a photo she had taken of the TV show the moment the Oberholtzer family won the contest. Mike King did not even pause at the suggestion that Stanley had been comforted by the fact that the last name of one of the victims had shown up on a televised game show the night before the suspect had been arrested. Instead, the host asked, “I know I am kind of like you, a person of deep faith; there are no coincidences, are there?” Stanly answered, “No. There are not.”

Stanley’s belief that there is no such thing as coincidence would become a motif for what followed. On May 5, 2021, five days after the true crime YouTube episode aired, Stanley spoke at a press conference announcing that Barry Morphew, the husband of the missing Suzanne Morphew, had been arrested and charged with murder.

We briefly interrupt this story with a word from our advertisers. The best way to support the Tribune’s work is to engage with our wonderful community businesses.
The Sierra Guide used to called the Sangre de Cristo Mountains the Tetons of Colorado, and truly, Westcliffe is the most scenic area in the State. Learn more about real estate by clicking here.

The true crime obsession with Suzanne Morphew

The term to explain the exponential growth of a news story that consumes the world’s attention is dubbed “going viral,” and this saying pre-existed the COVID pandemic. Ironically, COVID was precisely the reason the world became obsessed with the disappearance of Suzanne Morphew, as billions of people across the world sat in front of computers during the first wave of lockdowns outside of China with not much to do other than look at satellite photos of the Salida region and ponder where she might be. Randomness certainly played a role. Among the tens of thousands of people that had disappeared, a large segment of the internet latched onto Suzanne. The staying power of interest in Suzanne’s disappearance has shown remarkable reach. For example, once her remains were found in September of 2023, the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail YouTube channel had a twelve-minute special on the case titled, in proper British tabloid newspaper style, Scattered remains found! Husband of Suzanne Morphew charged AGAIN after body discovery? This video has received over 109,000 views at the time of this writing. And it was precisely the internet interest in the case that started Linda Stanley and two other members of her staff on a path to face the Colorado Supreme Court and possibly lose their attorneys’ licenses.

In Colorado, attorneys are held to a standard of ethics overseen by a branch of the Colorado Supreme Court called the Office of Attorney Regulation. There are strict rules on pretrial publicity to ensure that an accused person is given a fair trial by a jury made up of people within the surrounding region in which the crime took place.

Often, the media in the past and the YouTubers in the present allow their emotions to drive their beliefs that someone is guilty—in contradiction to our societal belief and judicial posture that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Stanley is currently accused by the Office of Attorney Regulation of brazenly ignoring and violating those pretrial publicity rules during her press conference and subsequent appearances on YouTube.

The rules state that “a lawyer who is participating in the investigation or litigation of a matter shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.” But Stanley is more than just an attorney; she is a prosecutor, and they are held to an even higher standard: “Prosecutor in a criminal case shall refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused.”

Many, even those engaged in the legal profession, forget that the judicial process is adversarial. Like two opposing sports teams, each side tries to plan and practice the strategies they think will best allow them to claim victory. But like any competition, there are rules that each side must follow, and violations of those rules are penalized. Pushing this analogy between professional sports and the judicial system further, there are different levels of penalties the presiding judge can use, from simple verbal warnings or rulings like referees using a flag in football to the more extensive financial fines and suspensions for players that use illegal tackles that risk massive injury of another player. The judge acts as the referee. Who wins is then decided by a jury.

Stanley’s inexperience starts to show

Linda Stanley has repeatedly stated over the past four years that she is not a politician; she is a prosecutor. The position of District Attorney is an elected office, and she ran a politically-charged election campaign to win over two other attorneys who had more experience. At Republican political rallies, she openly carried firearms and held up a sign alongside future U.S. House Representative Lauren Boebert with the image of an assault rifle that said, “Come and take it.” Stanley never articulated how supporting the Second Amendment would help her to run a District Attorney’s Office. Contrary to her claims, Stanley did not have much experience as an attorney or as a prosecutor. She had only earned her law degree in 2012, and in the eight years that followed, she constantly switched jobs. After a stint in Pueblo prosecuting minor infractions, she decided to try her hand at private practice. Her first client interaction ended in disaster, and in 2019, right before she announced that she was running for office, Stanley was punished (known as being censured) by the same Colorado Supreme Court for failing to let a client know she had taken another job with the Treasury Department in Denver. Further, she tried to sue the confused client for unpaid bills on work that the Supreme Court said had not been done. Stanley never demonstrated that she was capable of sticking with any professional position for more than a few years, surviving only a few months as a police officer in Gilpin County, Colorado, and leaving the treasury job soon after being censured.

Advertisement for Linda Stanley in 2020

What is still unclear is how much her inexperience played a role in the whirlwind that was to follow. The internet and media attention that swirled around the Morphew case had taken on a life of its own, and even an experienced prosecutor might have had a hard time not getting caught up in the rush. Regardless, that press conference where Stanley announced the arrest of Barry Morphew for murder, even though Suzanne’s body had not been discovered, started a chain reaction on YouTube. The Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation claims that over the next year, Stanley repeatedly violated the ethical rules that govern attorneys. While press conferences are a staple of political actors, District Attorneys tend to shy away from saying anything about the accused so as not to bias the public. But Stanley, in a leather jacket, blue jeans, black leather biker boots, and a badge dangling from her neck, stated, “Barry Morphew was taken into custody and when asked questions he said he wanted a lawyer and all questioning ended.” Shortly after, she was in constant phone and text contact with Mike King, host of the Profiling Evil Podcast, who wasted no time capitalizing on his new source of information and exclusively focused on updates of the Barry Morphew trial. This strategy paid off, and his channel saw a considerable increase in views, jumping from just a few thousand when he first interviewed Stanley in April 2021 to over 23,000 when he interviewed her again on August 30.

Because of the press conference, and her attire that shunned the formal wear of attorneys in favor of an outfit reminiscent of a detective crime drama, people on the internet saw Stanley as a District Attorney who was finally going to bring Barry Morphew to justice. The many YouTubers posting updates on the arrest had already decided Barry was the guilty party in his wife’s disappearance. One of the thousands of YouTube comments was indicative of the majority feeling, “Please don’t let him get away with murder, women all over the world are victims of men like Barry Morphew. #justiceforsuzanne is justice for women all over the world.” Mike King wanted to profit from Stanley’s popularity and invited her onto his show for a second time, and they talked openly about the Morphew case. Afterward, Stanley joined the comment sections, sparring with another attorney who questioned the wisdom of coming on the podcast and the seemingly weak case Stanley had brought against Barry. Stanley irritated, responded in the YouTube comments section, “I’m curious how long you’ve been a criminal law attorney since you like to think that you know it. Look this up: Dante Lucas. Convicted in Pueblo, Colo­rado (right next to my jurisdiction) less than a year ago for First Degree Murder!! Guess what?? No DNA. No Body, No murder weapon, No “smoking gun” as you say. But here’s the clincher! He was the last one to see Kelsey alive!! And Barry was the last one to see Suzanne alive (as we stated in the prelim). Those items you listed may be important to you, but not for others (PS Dylan Redwines father was also just recently convicted of first degree murder in the death of his son. Same scenario. Didn’t have any of the laundry list of items that you think are required for a conviction. I can come up with plenty more. Just let me know.”

It was clear at this point Linda Stanley had decided Barry Morphew was guilty, and it seemed that she would do anything to keep him in jail and convict him. She also didn’t mind telling the whole world.

We briefly interrupt this story with a word from our advertisers. The best way to support the Tribune’s work is to engage with our wonderful community businesses.
With offices at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs and now in Westcliffe, Pennica Financial Group can help you with all your financial needs. Click here to learn more.

Violating Rules 12 and 16

Without a body, the case against Barry Morphew was indeed weak to begin with, and Stanley’s team quickly realized that they were going to have a hard time keeping up with the evidence needed to provide to Barry’s defense team. Rules 12 and 16 in court proceedings are critical to respecting the constitutional rights of the accused. The prosecution must disclose evidence it has collected to the defendant in a reasonable time frame, and it cannot hold any evidence back. In many ways, complying with Rules 12 and 16 is considered a normal part of the job of a prosecutor. Yet, Stanley’s team continued to fail to provide evidence month after month as Barry Morphew was held in jail without bond. The defense and the judge became increasingly irritated about the delays of evidence, and by July 22, the judge ordered all evidence to be disclosed within seven days. Lacking enough money to comply, the Chaffee County Sheriff obtained $100,000 from the County Commissioners to hire extra help. Stanley turned to veteran prosecutor Mark Hurlbert. But despite Hurlbert’s decades of experience as a prosecutor, his record was not studded with success. He had been the elected District Attorney in Eagle County, Colorado, containing the glitzy ski resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek, and he had taken on the failed prosecution of former basketball star Kobe Bryant in 2003. The case rested on the testimony of a 19-year-old hotel employee who claimed Bryant had raped her, but Bryant insisted it was consensual. After months and $200,000 in expenses, the accuser decided not to testify, and the case was dismissed, with Bryant settling a civil case in 2004 for an estimated $2.5 million.

With Hurlbert joining the prosecution team, the logjam of evidence started to move, but what emerged was evidence that could prove Barry’s innocence. To the court, it looked like Stanley’s team had withheld exculpatory evidence (evidence that could show innocence), particularly evidence that presented DNA from an unknown person in Suzanne Morphew’s vehicle whose DNA was part of another investigation involving sexual assault. Because of this withheld evidence, on September 17, Barry was released from jail on a $500,000 bond. The judge also warned Stanley’s team about complying with Rule 12 and to stop talking to media or, in this case, YouTubers.

Because of the money and effort poured into the Morphew case, Stanley’s office had repeatedly violated discovery rules in dozens of other cases across the district, many of these violations earning sanctions from several different judges. Through the end of 2021, Stanley was in constant contact by text and phone calls with YouTuber Mike King and a woman who went by the screen name JuleZ Wolf. In January 2022, the court ruled a fair trial couldn’t take place in Chaffee County because, according to an affidavit from a Salida community member, “the talk of the town was that the media, DA Stanley, and the Judge [Murphy] all made statements that convinced them that Barry Morphew killed his wife.” The case was moved to the more populous and neighboring Fremont County.

Stanley’s case rested on the testimony of experts to interpret evidence gathered from vehicle data and cellphone locations. However, by March 2022, with the murder trial just a month away, this list of experts who were the foundation of Stanley’s case had not been fully disclosed to the defense, despite repeated warnings by Judge Ramsey Lama. One of the main rules that govern trials is found in the Sixth Amendment, which states that a person accused has the right to a speedy trial. This constitutional right to a speedy trial is to prevent a defendant from being held in custody for a prolonged period, only to be found innocent. While the legal system might not seem speedy on the surface to most observers, there is always internal pressure on a court to consider how long a person has been jailed as each side submits evidence, motions, and asks for additional evidence. An old strategy stretching back centuries is to purposefully delay proceedings at every opportunity, hoping that the person sitting in prison gives up hope of ever seeing a courtroom and eventually takes a plea deal. Another strategy is to engage in what is known as a “document dump,” where one side unleashes large amounts of unorganized documents on the other without enough time before the trial begins to understand what those documents contain.

On March 10, Judge Lama issued a verbal order that came as a massive blow for successfully prosecuting Barry Morphew. “The court finds a pattern of neglect demonstrating a need for modification of a party’s discovery practices in this case… this is trial by ambush. That’s exactly what the rules are designed to prevent. And I’m not finding it willful, but I’m finding a pattern and I’m finding prejudice. There’s a record to support a pattern of neglect here and prejudice.” For Judge Lama, the delays had created a timeline too short for the defense to investigate the expert witnesses Stanley’s team had selected. The trial could not be pushed back just because the prosecution was too disorganized to follow basic court rules.

Over the next month, with the deadline of what was going to be a highly-publicized jury trial putting more pressure on Stanley’s team, the remaining wheels came off the prosecution’s case. With problems accruing around the lingering expert witnesses and sharing evidence, the defense shot down expert witnesses one by one. Judge Lama also kept issuing warnings. Finally, on April 8, three weeks before the trial was set to begin, Judge Lama gave a ruling that sunk Stanley’s case. “The People failed to put in place a system to preserve emails as ordered by Judge Murphy on June 3 [2023]… The Court finds a continuing pattern by the People of an inability and failure to comply with its Rule 16 obligations as well as the Court’s case management orders… the People’s actions amount to negligent, and arguably, reckless disregard for their Rule 16 obligations and duty to abide by court orders… the court excludes 11 out of 16 of the People’s endorsed expert witnesses [a sanction] warranted based upon the record… The case is set for trial to begin on April 28, 2022.Out of 16 expert witnesses, only one was going to be allowed to testify at the trial.

On April 19, 2023, Stanley filed a motion to dismiss the charges against Barry Morphew but hinted that if they found Suzanne’s body, which she hypothesized was under five feet of snow in the high mountains, they could refile charges. She refused to talk to the television station reporters gathered outside the Fremont County Courthouse.

YouTubers threaten Judge Lama and claim he abused his ex-wife

As Stanley’s case fatally fell apart in March and April of 2022, YouTube true crime hosts were livid at Judge Lama’s rulings. To the world that made up the true crime YouTube hosts, Barry was considered guilty no matter what, and with this mindset, they looked at the actions of Judge Lama’s rulings as the same as that of the referee throwing a game with endless, and in their opinion, baseless penalties. For these online personalities, there had to be an alternative motive for the judge to take the actions he was taking. The baseless answer the YouTubers hit upon was that the judge must be protecting Barry Morphew.

The YouTube channel True Crimes with JuleZ Wolf decided to act and started an online petition that wrote, “…it then became known that the ex-wife of Judge Lama is an advocate of Suzanne Morphew and victims of domestic abuse. She also is a member of the Gym that the defendant, Barry Morphew, belonged to. There appears to be a conflict of interest for Judge Lama. Please look into this issue and if Judge Lama has a conflict of interest, remove him from this case.” Over 2,000 people signed.

According to Judge Lama, people he suspected to be YouTube hosts or fans of the shows started following his ex-wife and son around town, sometimes approaching and asking if, “Judge Lama had ever beaten you?”

JuleZ Wolf and Stanley had been sending messages to each other for months, with Stanley sharing details that JuleZ used on her YouTube channel. Around this same time, a YouTuber calling himself AKRox appeared in a video with what was meant to look like a bulletproof vest and threatened that the “Judge better get off the case.” It is unclear if Stanley had contact with AKRox before this time, but the combined petition of JuleZ Wolf and the accusations of AKRox that Judge Lama had abused his ex-wife was enough for Stanley to propose to her team that they should launch a criminal investigation of the Judge that was issuing rulings that were strangling her case.

Investigating a sitting judge

“You guys might want to read this… [attached petition started by JulezWolf titled “Help Give Suzanne Her Voice!”]… But I’m not sure how true it is. I can tell you that I have heard this rumor before. Long before Barry Morphew. But it could DEFINITELY explain why he hates us so much… I looked into this organization, change dot org. Anyone can start a petition. So we don’t know if any of it is true. The only way to know is to talk to his ex-wife. And BTW, he has custody of his kid… the person who started the petition is Julez Wolf. She has a YouTube channel. I’m not sure that’s a credible source.”

This was the string of text messages that Stanley sent to Mark Hurlbert and Bob Weiner that instigated a criminal investigation into Judge Lama. Somewhere in the process between AKrox claiming the judge had committed domestic abuse of his ex-wife and JuleZ’s petition, the team decided that was enough, despite acknowledging that random claims of YouTube hosts were probably not enough evidence. Regardless, Stanley and Deputy District Attorney Bob Weiner asked the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office to launch a criminal investigation into the judge. The office refused, stating that they had no good source as a basis for an inquiry. According to the complaints, this did not deter Stanley, who directed a District Attorney investigator to Judge Lama’s ex-wife’s home to interview her on the claims started by the two YouTube channels.

The judge’s ex-wife denied the YouTube allegations.

Defending herself to the Supreme Court

All of the text messages and statements covered above were part of a complaint submitted by the Colorado Office of Attorney Regulation filed on October 30, 2023. Stanley and her attorney responded on December 18, 2023. While it is hard to summarize a 50-page response, Stanley generally admits that she did talk with the YouTube channels and shared messages with the hosts. At times, she denies some of the claims about the discovery violations and that her comments influenced the public perception of the case.

But what is key in her response is that while she admits the text messages, she denies “encouraging her team to investigate the judge.” Stanley claims “that the decision to interview Judge Lama’s ex-wife was a team decision. Discussion was had on this topic, and the Respondent was by no means the driving force in pushing for an interview. The Respondent actually expressed some reticence, and the issue was discussed jointly amongst the Respondent and the highly experienced attorneys working on the Morphew team.” Yet in the next paragraph of her defense, she admits going to the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office to ask for the investigation, plus enlisting her own investigator to continue.

Stanley’s final defense is that her statements and communications with the YouTube hosts were not enough to influence the public about Barry Morphew’s innocence or guilt. Plus, Stanley denies any wrongdoing by launching the investigation of the sitting judge on the case, “[Stanley] committed no ethical violation in choosing to conduct a limited investigation of Judge Lama under the circumstances presented. The issue of whether to possibly interview Judge Lama’s ex-wife arose because the Respondent became aware that a petition, called “help give Suzanne Morphew back her voice (and all the other Suzannes),” was being publicly circulated calling for an investigation of Judge Lama for a potential conflict of interest and calling for his removal from the case if it proved warranted.”

We briefly interrupt this story with a word from our advertisers. The best way to support the Tribune’s work is to engage with our wonderful community businesses.
When you borrow with farm credit, you are not a customer; you become a member. Farm Credit works with all of Colorado and has packages to help you. Click here to learn more.

Continuing to reach out to YouTube Channels

Our story here focuses primarily on how true crime YouTube channels reached out and connected with District Attorney Linda Stanley throughout the Barry Morphew trial. The iceberg metaphor sums up this case: the majority of an iceberg remains unseen below the surface of the ocean, and all that is visible from a passing ship is just a tiny fraction of what lies below. This article, for the sake of the narrative about the influence of YouTube influences, leaves out the massive amounts of other conflicts and controversies surrounding Stanley that have taken place since she first ran for office in 2020. One example is when Stanley had her attorney license suspended by the Colorado Supreme Court in June, 2022 for several weeks because she failed to take required continuing education courses.

Throughout the course of Stanley’s term as District Attorney, she seems to genuinely believe, as she stated, “I will listen to anyone that contacts me.” And this attitude seems to extend in both directions as she actively reached out to YouTube hosts that she admired. The most prominent example comes at the end of a two-hour recorded phone call on October 21, 2023. In the call, Stanley tells the YouTube host (the one that wore the bulletproof vest described earlier as AKRox but whose real name is Kurt Simpson).

“This [phone call], on October 21, is the end of Barry Morphew… count on it. I have been fighting this battle with these law enforcement d*ckheads, ugh! Man, you have got help me out here, I don’t know what I am doing wrong.” Kurt Simpson replies, “Well, we got you.” Stanley agrees, “This [phone call] is not a coincidence, there are no coincidences when God is involved… and I kept wondering how I was going to reach out, how am I going to do this so I don’t get in trouble… I asked this Cary person to give you my cell phone number.”

Most of the call had revolved around Kurt Simpson coming to Fremont County to work with Stanley. They proposed several unsavory plans to use him as a secret investigator who would be capable of avoiding the laws Stanley felt prevented her from bringing Barry back to trial. It is not clear if anything came of these plans, but Simpson and Stanley both showed signs of paranoia. Simpson stated, “I have had blues try to kill me, I have had my Jeep totaled, I have had my lug nuts taken off my tires, I have almost gone off the Glennwood bridge, I have had my tires get punctured, I have sugar in my gas tank, I have people pull guns on me and say ‘get the fuck out of Salida,’ I have had so much stuff, all documented.” He is never clear who is after him, but Stanley agrees with him and adds, “I live in a secluded area, and I have a PO Box for an address for that very reason. I mean, I know for a fact that people have been, you know, looking for me, following me at times. I was a police officer before I went to law school. I am not stupid. I am very well-armed, and I have a dog and whatever.”

Potential Fallout

Because the office of the District Attorney is an elected position, it will take time to fully understand the consequences of the various lawsuits and possible sanctions that face Linda Stanley, Mark Hurlbert, and Bob Weiner. Stanley has stated that she will not be running for office again, but she has also not resigned. While we must speculate for now, Stanley is likely using the funds of the District Attorney’s office, and perhaps insurance, to cover her legal defense against the complaints of the Office of Attorney Regulation and a civil lawsuit filed against her by Barry Morphew. There is nothing illegal about taking this action, but it does bring up the question of how much money will be left after she leaves office. Through the appeal process, Stanley will probably remain in office until her term expires in January 2025. The budget of the District Attorney’s office is not publicly available, so only hints of what is taking place rise to the surface on occasion, such as the District Attorney’s Office announcing in January to reduce working days to just four a week. The Office of Attorney Regulation has a two-week hearing set in June for Linda Stanley, and the complaints against Deputy District Attorneys Mark Hurlbert and Bob Weiner for their role in the investigation into Judge Lama were filed in February. All three, acting on the online petition and accusations by YouTube channels, face the possibility of losing their licenses and, in Stanley’s case, possibly permanently.

The backlog of cases in the 11th Judicial District is mounting. Cases are being pushed back, dismissed, and charges reduced as the remaining staff try to prosecute the law while simultaneously defending themselves from the rules that govern their ability to practice law.

Despite the chaos inflicted on local institutions since Stanley’s election, the judicial system has not collapsed. Law enforcement officers are still patrolling over the mountainous regions that define the four counties of the 11th Judicial District, which includes Custer County and the scenic Wet Mountain Valley we call home. The courts are still operating, and justice is still pursued in case after case, week after week. The local law institutions, for now, have withstood the strange interaction that the true crime YouTubers brought to the region. The only real question for now is how much it is going to cost to repair and rebuild the District Attorney’s Office after Linda Stanley is gone in 2025.

The answer to that question will take several more years to emerge.

– Jordan Hedberg

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this story, please consider supporting the businesses and organizations of the Wet Mountain Valley

Learn more about the Dark Skies and beautiful views of the Wet Mountain Valley and how easy a vacation is to this rural mountain community. Click here to learn more.

Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.