In 2015, Frank Ruybalid, the former district attorney for Colorado’s Third Judicial District, oversaw an office in disarray.
State regulators accused Ruybalid of more than 150 instances of violating legal ethics by withholding evidence in criminal cases. As a result of those transgressions, 15 cases were dismissed in the Third, which encompasses the southern Colorado counties of Las Animas and Huerfano. They included charges of child abuse, domestic violence and murder.
Facing possible disbarment, Ruybalid admitted to more than two dozen ethical violations in exchange for a sentence of probation for his law license. But that didn’t end the case. There still remained the matter of money — more than $223,000 in attorney’s fees and other costs that Ruybalid paid out of his own pocket to defend himself from the allegations.
Ruybalid said the Las Animas and Huerfano county governments should reimburse him for those costs, citing a state law that says district attorneys can ask their counties to pay “the expenses necessarily incurred in the discharge of his official duties for the benefit of such county.” The counties said no way.
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