The Supreme Court has put an end to a former district attorney’s claim for costs of defending ethical violation allegations against him.
Using the DA Expense Statute, the court ruled that because former 3rd Judicial District Attorney Frank Ruybalid committed some of the ethical violations recklessly or knowingly, he didn’t incur attorney fees and costs in the course of his official duties, and the counties in the district don’t have an obligation to reimburse him. Although the Supreme Court’s analysis is fact-specific, the opinion provided a new interpretation of the DA Expense Statute for the context of district attorneys defending against claims of ethical violations.
The statute is short. It directs counties to reimburse district attorneys for “expenses necessarily incurred in the discharge of his official duties for the benefit of [the] county.” The Court of Appeals previously addressed recovering attorney costs for tort claims in Colorado Counties Casualty & Property Pool v. Board of County Commissioners, but no Colorado case before now has addressed the context of ethical violations.