Third Judicial District Attorney Henry Solano released a statement on Tuesday, June 25 concerning his lawsuit against the Las Animas County Board of County Commissioners (LABOCC) and a recent legal opinion published by District Senior Court Judge Leslie J. Gerbracht.

County voters passed Referendum 1A in the Nov. 7, 2017 election to provide additional financial support in prosecuting serious crimes in the Third Judicial District, which encompasses both Las Animas and Huerfano Counties. Third Judicial District Attorney Henry Solano filed suit on Tuesday, November 6 against the Las Animas County Board of Commissioners, seeking a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief, including a preliminary injunction and attorney fees, pursuant to relevant Colorado Revised Statutes.

In his complaint, Solano asked for declaratory judgment in three areas. The suit asked the BOCC to restrict its actions regarding the DA’s Office to that of appropriating funds to meet the necessary expenses of that Office.

Second, that the Court declare the revenues generated by Referendum 1A, up to and above the estimate of $580,000, should be immediately available for appropriation and should first be dedicated to meet the necessary expenses of the DA’s Office.

And third, the complaint asked the court to declare that “all deliberations or decisions regarding the necessary expenses and uses of 1A sales tax revenues be held in open meetings pursuant to the Colorado Sunshine Act, also-known-as the Open Meetings Law.”

Solano’s statement regarding Judge Gerbracht’s opinion reads as follows: “In a clear and straightforward opinion, the Senior District Court Judge agreed with the position of the District Attorney. Las Animas County voters approved 1A funds to be used to meet the needs of the District Attorney’s office to provide for meaningful public safety prosecution through proper funding.

“The Court has declared that the Las Animas County Commissioners cannot, as was done, directly or indirectly divert 1A revenues to other purposes than funding the DA’s Office.

“I look forward to working with the County Commissioners to meet the urgent prosecution efforts the people of Las Animas (County) need, deserve and voted for over 17 months ago. Full funding of the DA’s office has not yet happened. It is urgent this takes place given the consistently increasing number of prosecutions being pursued. If that cannot be done right away, I am prepared to have the Court make the decision on full funding of the DA’s Office.”

The members of the Board of County of Commissioners offered no comments on Solano’s e-mail message at this time.

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