Colorado District Attorney Offers Cash Bonuses for Convictions

By Adam Ramirez on March 28, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Now your lawyer friends in the public sector are getting a shot at cash bonuses.

And they don't have to bill 2150 hours, either.

A Colorado district attorney is offering financial incentives for felony prosecutors who meet their goals for conviction rates at trial, reports the Denver Post.

The threshold for an assistant district attorney to earn the average $1,100 reward: Participate in at least five trials during the year, with 70 percent of them ending in a felony conviction, reports the Post. Plea bargains or mistrials don't count.

Sure, these measly bonuses don't compare to the big money BigLaw shells out, but it's a financial incentive nonetheless.

Carol Chambers, DA for Colorado's Eighteenth Judicial District, says she set up the bonus goals to encourage prosecutors to meet minimum requirements that put her district in line with other jurisdictions in the state.

"It is hard to find performance standards by which to measure trial attorneys," Chambers explains to the Post. "This is the standard I think best meets the need to have a performance standard that attorneys know and can be aware."

The Post reports that other Colorado DAs interviewed don't offer similar bonuses. Nor do they tie performance evaluationss to conviction rates.

Critics (read: defense lawyers and public defenders) say it's unethical to give prosecutors a financial prize for winning a trial and may give defense attorneys a reason to appeal a case.

"The prosecutor's ethical obligation is to seek justice for everyone," Colorado State Public Defender Douglas Wilson told NBC Channel 9. "Basing bonus pay of conviction rates flies in the face of that obligation and sounds a lot like the Old West bounties."

Bounties, spring firm bonuses... is there really a difference?

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