Saturday, July 10, 2010

Speedy Fair Justice--Victim Of State Budget Cuts

New Mexico is facing difficult budget issues in this year due to a short fall in tax revenues which forced the legislature to cut the budget of many law enforcement agencies. Among those cut the most were the court systems and the district attorney’s office.

Judges are required by both state and federal constitutional laws to provide swift justice and fair due process to all individuals accused of a felony crime or for that matter any crime committed in this state.

I was in a courtroom just Friday where the district attorney’s office had failed to notify a lawyer of discovery and the trial set for Monday was postponed even after the judge in the case had set an order for a deadline for the District Attorney’s Office to provide the lawyer for the defense with large amounts of information which the legal system calls discovery. Without that information a defense lawyers have no ability to adequately defend their clients against charges.

In the Albuquerque Journal yet another case was being debated where the district attorney’s office could not afford to bring back witnesses in a case where the individual in question was charged with sexual assault of a child. If information is not given a possible child molester could go free.

I know that the last thing a judge in our state court system wants to do is be forced to free someone who could be guilty of a serious felony crime because of a technicality that is nevertheless very important to the defense of someone accused of a felony in this state.

At the same time District Attorney Kari Brandenburg is being forced to make unacceptable calls when it comes to which cases to fund and which to let drag on to the point where the defendant could end up being released because of a lack of due process. District Attorneys are being shamed in front of judges due to their lack of control over important information that should be given to the defense attorneys. These District Attorneys are doing the best job they can with very limited resources.

Second District Court Judge Bob Schwartz in his clear frustration with the current events in his courtroom has ordered the District Attorney’s office to show cause why the sexual assault case should not go on without the vital evidences needed to either convict or free the accused sex offender.

He also suggested a bake sale to raise the money needed to transport the witnesses back to New Mexico. I would go even further and suggest that they invite the republicans in the state legislature because if you look at State Senator Tim Jennings I would say they could make a huge amount of money off just his appetite alone after all he was in the lead when it come to cutting the state budget in the first place that has caused this problem. So much for Republicans being tough on crime in this state.