DENVER (KDVR) — Update 11:15 a.m. 7/12: In an unprecedented move, that has not happened in the 30-year history of the Victims Rights Act in Colorado, Attorney General Phil Weiser said the District Attorney’s Office tasked with prosecuting cases in the San Luis Valley violated victims’ rights.

As a result, the Attorney General’s Office will enter a 3-year forcible agreement with the 12th Judicial District Attorney’s Office to make sure it complies with the VRA, after finding a pattern of practice of violations.

According to a news release the investigation found that District Attorney Alonso Payne’s office “routinely failed to communicate with victims, consult with them about plea deals or case dismissals, or treat them with respect and dignity.”

Per the agreement, DA Payne and his office admitted to the following conduct and accepted responsibility for:

  • The DA’s Office repeatedly failed to treat victims with dignity and respect
  • The Assistant DA yelled and verbally abused victims in meetings where the DA knew about the conduct but took no action or apologize to victims
  • Payne left meetings with victims after disagreeing on how cases should be handled
  • Payne refused to answer questions from victims and refused written victim impact statements
  • Payne refused to speak with some victims altogether
  • The DA’s Office failed to consult with victims over plea deals or agreements
  • The DA’s Office would notify victims of their plans to submit a plea on the day of court hearing, leaving no time to consult victims about legal steps
  • Attorneys for the DA’s Office informed victims that they do not represent the victims and do not need their assistance on cases

The agreement requires the 12th Judicial District DA’s office to review and revise its VRA policy and create a process to contact victims in a timely manner. It requires mandatory training and putting information on its website informing victims of their rights under the law.

A third-party monitor, which will be appointed by the AG’s office, will conduct a quarterly review to make sure the DA’s office is complying with the agreement.

The AG can go to court to enforce the order and may include drastic steps like taking away cases from the DA’s office if necessary.

If there is a new District Attorney in the 12th Judicial District, whether it be by election or recall, the agreement will be shortened to six months following the new DA taking over. Weiser emphasized that the agreement is between his office and the District Attorney’s Office, not just DA Payne.

You can read the full agreement in the document below.

Original Story: Colorado’s top law enforcement official is providing an update on an investigation into alleged violations of the Victims Rights Act in the San Luis Valley.

The VRA ensures that crime victims are treated with “fairness, respect, and dignity and that they are free from intimidation and abuse.” Attorney General Phil Weiser has been looking into the allegations in the 12th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, run by DA Alonzo Payne.

Back in February of 2022, the Crime Victim Services Advisory Board reviewed complaints against the 12th Judicial District Attorney’s office and referred complaints to the Governor, who can request Weiser to file a lawsuit to enforce compliance with the Victims Rights Act.

This is the first referral the board has made in Colorado in the 30 years since the Victims Rights Act has been in effect, which the board said in a statement reflects “the seriousness of this matter.” The board referred a total of four complaints to the Governor and the Attorney General.

You can watch Weiser’s remarks on FOX31 NOW in the player above.