DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis on Monday announced he had appointed Anne E. Kelly to be the next 12th Judicial District Attorney in the San Luis Valley after former DA Alonzo Payne resigned in July following his failure to comply with the Colorado Crime Victim Rights Act.
Kelly most recently worked as a deputy district attorney in the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office. She has also worked in the 18th and 19th judicial district attorney’s offices, and in private practice, and focuses on prosecuting domestic violence, homicide, sexual assault, fraud and other cases, according to the governor’s office. In 2020, she penned pieces in the Boulder Daily Camera about the risks COVID posed to domestic violence victims.
In a statement, Kelly said her top priority was restoring trust in the 12th judicial District Attorney’s Office. She will start in her position on Sept. 1.
“Restoring trust requires transparency, constant engagement and implementation of effective systems while prioritizing being accessible to the community including law enforcement, victims, community groups, and defense attorneys,” Kelly said in a statement.
Payne resigned on July 13 a day after Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced an agreement between his office and the 12th Judicial District Attorney’s Office to bring in an independent monitor to ensure the DA’s Office is complying with the VRA following a multi-month investigation into complaints that it was not.
Several of the victims who filed complaints spoke with Denver7 Investigates earlier this year, alleging that the DA and his office were not telling them about plea deals in cases they or their family members were involved in, or were providing questionable plea agreements. Weiser said some victims had their safety put at risk.
Payne said in his resignation letter he wanted to “spare the cost and divisiveness of a Recall Election to overturn the will of the voters.” A recall effort against Payne that was initiated by the city of Alamosa had been approved.
Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks said when Payne resigned that the city was surprised he did so, and that they appreciate his “willingness to save the taxpayers the cost of a special election” by realizing he likely would have been recalled.
Eugene Farish, the former 12th Judicial District Attorney, called Kelly’s selection a “terrific choice.”
“She will do a great job of putting together an office that is facing challenges and overcoming the backlog they are facing,” Farish said in a statement. “Anne is already on top of it. She will have the backing of local law enforcement, we felt she would be the person to best address these issues and take on these cases as she is in the process of rebuilding this office.”
Polis had appointed Weiser to be the interim district attorney after Payne resigned, and other district attorneys’ offices helped with 12th Judicial District cases over the past month. Polis on Monday thanked Weiser for his help and said his office would help Kelly succeed in her new position.
“An effective prosecutor takes the concerns of law enforcement, commissioners, and victims and works to address them through common-sense problem solving, and I’m confident that’s what Anne Kelly will do as the new DA for the 12th Judicial District,” Polis said in a statement. “We welcome Anne to this new role, bringing her experience as a prosecutor, thank her for answering this new and challenging call to public service, and know she is committed to bringing everyone to the table to deliver justice and restore trust and confidence in the District Attorney’s Office.”
Boulder County district Attorney said Kelley is “an outstanding leader” and would be a good district attorney.
“The San Luis Valley is gaining an extremely experienced, talented, and dedicated prosecutor,” Dougherty said in a statement.
“Anne Kelly is a strong prosecutor who is especially passionate about ensuring that victims of crime are treated with the utmost dignity and respect,” said Colorado District Attorneys’ Council Executive Director Tom Raynes.