Colorado’s District Attorney Frank Ruybalid Faces Suspension

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Colorado's third Judicial District Attorney Frank Ruybalid faces suspension on allegations of mishandling 16 criminal cases. He told the Denver Post that decreasing budgets and increasing caseloads were to be blamed.

Ruybalid, while admitting to the facts of the case against him, denied the rule violations as intentional citing the facts that his office has only three-full time prosecutors and one part-time prosecutor to cover four courts across an area of 6,300 square miles.

While Ruybalid has been accused of hiring inexperienced attorneys, the District Attorney said it has been extremely difficult to attract trained and experienced attorneys to the rural areas that he serves. Experienced attorneys have little interest in joining his office at a lesser pay than other options open to them.

However, some allegations against Ruybalid's conduct seem to be serious, and as Ben Aisenberg, a current member of the Colorado State Bar's ethics committee and former president of the Bar told the Denver Post, some of the circumstances mentioned in the complaint against Ruybalid were extremely rare. Aisenberg said, "For someone to disobey a court order - especially in the criminal aspect - breaks down the whole administration of justice."

At least four judges in Trinidad and Walsenburg have ordered sanctions against Ruybalid and his prosecutors. While one judge called him incompetent, several judges commented on a pattern in which Ruybalid and his prosecutors quickly dismissed criminal cases after sanctions were ordered.

Ruybalid's district includes the Las Animas and Huerfano counties. According to Ruybalid, in 2012, his office handled 200 felony cases just in Animas County.

The complaint filed by the Colorado Attorney Regulations Counsel alleges that Ruybalid disobeyed court orders and intentionally violated state rules. He faces a suspension of his license or disbarment if he fails to substantiate his defense with a reasonable proof.

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