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The San Luis Valley District Attorney Alonzo Payne has resigned ahead of a recall election. The resignation on Wednesday came only one day after Colorado Attorney General (AG) Phil Weiser announced he found that Payne had systemically violated crime victims’ rights.

The Rio grande County 12th Judicial District courthouse. Courtesy photo.

This was not the only charge faced by the embattled top prosecutor for the 12th Judicial District. He was also facing a recall effort by the city of Alamosa that was backed by residents with several complaints about his style of prosecution, and general professionalism, as well as his treatment of victims.

During the investigation, the AG’s office found that Payne and his staff systemically violated the rights of crime victims by ignoring them, being rude to them, yelling at them, and failing to communicate with them.  So on Tuesday, the AG’s office announced that it would assign an independent monitor to oversee reform in the prosecutor’s office. At most, that oversight was to last three years, but Payne resigned first.

Payne appeared to shift the blame for any problems of his office to the district, writing in his resignation letter: “It is apparent to me that the elite of the San Luis Valley and the judicial activists amongst us do not want to see criminal justice reform enacted,” he wrote. “I hope they soon realize that incarcerating the poor and underprivileged is not the solution to address the overarching poverty and substance abuse issues that are rampant in the San Luis Valley and statewide.”

In the interim, Governor Jared Polis has appointed Weiser as the new district attorney for the 12th Judicial District. That district includes Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande, and Saguache counties.