19 Jan Complaint alleges misconduct by Chaffee County DA is enough to lose law license
By Marissa Solomon & Marc Sallinger
October 31, 2023
The Colorado Supreme Court is deciding whether Republican Chaffee County District Attorney Linda Stanley should lose her law license for her handling of one of Colorado’s most high-profile cases.
The state’s top court will consider a complaint against Stanley following several missteps in the criminal case against Barry Morphew in the disappearance of his wife Suzanne.
In May 2021, Stanley charged Morphew with killing his missing wife. She later dropped those charges just days before the trial was supposed to start.
The Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel (OARC) filed a complaint Monday alleging a long list of wrongdoings that could lead to Stanley’s disbarment. OARC investigates and prosecutes allegations of violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct by attorneys in Colorado.
OARC has been investigating Stanley for several years now, but this filing with the Supreme Court is a major escalation in the case.
Misconduct alleged in Barry Morphew case
The complaint alleges Stanley made multiple missteps in the Morphew case, which include speaking to “true crime” podcasts, showing up late repeatedly for court, and discovery violations.
Court documents claim Stanley was consistently late filing discovery disclosures for prosecutorial evidence, withholding evidence from the defense for as long as two months. The complaint alleges this behavior continued even after court orders to disclose evidence to Morphew’s defense attorneys.
The court said it found “a pattern of neglect” in Stanley’s discovery practices, calling it a “trial by ambush.”
A month later, the court issued another order regarding discovery violations, saying “the People’s actions amount to negligent, and arguably, reckless disregard” for discovery rules and court orders.
The complaint alleges Stanley violated her role as DA by making public pretrial statements about the case that resulted in prejudice.
In April 2021, prior to filing an arrest affidavit for Morphew, the complaint claims Stanley had been in contact with Mike King, host of the YouTube channel “Profiling Evil,” which discusses “true crime” cases. Court documents say she continued to message King throughout trial preparations.
Stanley later appeared on King’s YouTube channel in August 2021 to publicly discuss the case and even responded to written comments in an online comment section using a profile under her own name.
The complaint alleges Stanley was also exchanging Facebook messages in September 20201 with the host of “True Crime with Julez.” Court documents say Stanley replied “possibly” when asked if Morphew was getting ready to flee.
While there was no official court order, the complaint claims a judge advised Stanley to stay away from publicly discussing the case, saying “it certainly seems reasonable to limit interaction and interviews with the media.”
According to the complaint, Stanley was in communication with King and responded to questions about the hearing even after the judge’s advisement.
These extrajudicial comments, the complaint claims, violated professional conduct.
Stanley’s actions also constituted an “abuse of power as an elected district attorney,” the complaint states.
It alleges Stanley instructed her chief investigator, Andrew Corey, to interview the ex-wife of former Judge Ramsey Lama, the judge who was presiding over the Morphew case.
“Respondent did so in an effort to uncover information about Judge Lama that would be cause for his recusal or disqualification from continuing to preside over the Morphew case,” the complaint states.