Trump Appointed Federal Judge Dismisses Case Against Trump Charging Mishandling Of Hundreds Of Top Secret Government Documents; Follows SCOTUS Presidential Immunity Ruling Holding Trump Above The Law And Immune From Criminal Prosecutions For Official Acts; Dismissal By Trump Appointed Disciple Makes Mockery Of Federal Criminal Justice System

On July 15, the national news outlet CBS news posted on the internet the following news report entitled “Trumps Document Case Dismissed by Federal Judge” written by CBS news reporters Mellissa Quinn and Robert Leguere. Following is the report which has been edited for brevity by deleting sections, photos with captions added or highlighted:

“The federal judge overseeing the case alleging former President Donald Trump mishandled sensitive government documents after leaving the White House has dismissed the charges against him and his two codefendants.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon,  who was appointed to the bench by Trump, said in a 93-page order that she has granted Trump’s bid to dismiss the indictment based on the unlawful funding and appointment of special counsel Jack Smith, who brought the charges against the former president.

Judge Aileen Cannon wrote:

“The bottom line is this: The Appointments Clause is a critical constitutional restriction stemming from the separation of powers, and it gives to Congress a considered role in determining the propriety of vesting appointment power for inferior officers. … The Special Counsel’s position effectively usurps that important legislative authority, transferring it to a head of Department, and in the process threatening the structural liberty inherent in the separation of powers.”

The former president faced 40 charges stemming from his handling of documents marked classified after leaving office and allegedly obstructing the Justice Department’s investigation. The former president and his aides Walt Nauta and Carlos de Oliveira were charged in an alleged scheme to impede the federal probe, and all three pleaded not guilty.

Smith’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. CBS News has also reached out to attorneys for the former president and Nauta.

Trump said in a statement on social media that all civil and criminal cases brought against him should also be dismissed, and he accused the Justice Department of coordinating the indictments in an effort to harm his presidential campaign. There is no evidence that the prosecutions are politically motivated, and the president has repeatedly stressed that the Justice Department operates independently.  Trump wrote:

Continue watchingRep. Jason Smith shares his thoughts on Trump assassination attempt, RNCafter the ad

“Let us come together to END all Weaponization of our Justice System, and Make America Great Again!”.

An attorney for De Oliveira, the Mar-a-Lago property manager, said  this in a statement:

“We certainly agree with the court’s decision. But this case has been absurd from the start and Carlos should never have been but in this situation by the government.” 

The Justice Department [has already annpunced it intends to] appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, and the dispute could eventually land before the U.S. Supreme Court.

…  .

CANNON’S RULING

In her order, Cannon said Smith’s appointment violates the Constitution’s Appointments Clause and his use of a “permanent indefinite appropriation” violates the Appropriations Clause. Dismissal of the indictment is the “only appropriate solution” for the violation of the Appointments Clause, the judge said, and she ordered the case to be closed. Cannon did not address the remedy for the funding violation given her finding that the indictment should be dismissed on the grounds that Smith was improperly appointed.

The judge wrote that if the political branches want to grant the attorney general the power to appoint Smith to investigate and prosecute Trump, with the powers of a U.S. attorney, there is a valid means to do so: he can be appointed and confirmed through the method laid out in the Appointments Clause, or Congress can authorize his appointment through legislation consistent with the Constitution. Cannon wrote:

“Both the Appointments and Appropriations challenges as framed in the Motion raise the following threshold question: is there a statute in the United States Code that authorizes the appointment of Special Counsel Smith to conduct this prosecution?. … After careful study of this seminal issue, the answer is no.”

Judge Cannon said that none of the statutes cited as legal authority for Smith’s appointment give the attorney general the right to appoint a federal officer with the prosecutorial power wielded by the special counsel. Cannon wrote:

“The Framers gave Congress a pivotal role in the appointment of principal and inferior officers. … That role cannot be usurped by the Executive Branch or diffused elsewhere — whether in this case or in another case, whether in times of heightened national need or not.”

ATTORNEY GENERAL APPOINMENTS

Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Smith in 2022 to oversee the two federal investigations into the former president. He said at the time, and Smith’s team of prosecutors have argued, that legal and historical precedent allowed for the appointment of an independent prosecutor to handle the probes. Attorneys general from administrations of both parties have appointed special counsels in recent years to oversee sensitive investigations, and several federal courts have rejected similar constitutional challenges to special counsel appointments. Among those was the selection of Robert Mueller to investigate possible ties between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.

Trump’s bid to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that Smith was not authorized to prosecute him was considered a long-shot.

In addition to Smith, Garland appointed David Weiss to lead an investigation into Hunter Biden, Mr. Biden’s son. But unlike Smith, who was top war crimes prosecutor at The Hague before he was tapped to investigate Trump, Weiss is a Senate-confirmed U.S. attorney in Delaware. Weiss brought charges against Hunter Biden in two cases: one in Delaware, where he was convicted of gun charges, and the second in California, where is charged with tax crimes.

Smith also charged Trump with four counts stemming from his alleged attempts to subvert the peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 presidential election. Cannon wrote in her ruling that the dismissal only applies to the classified documents case and has no bearing on any cases outside of her control.

The judge rejected comparisons of Smith’s role as special counsel to that of “special attorneys,” and said the appointment of a private citizen like Smith, rather than an already-retained federal employee, “appears much closer to the exception than the rule.”  Cannon wrote:

“In the end, there does appear to be a ‘tradition’ of appointing special-attorney-like figures in moments of political scandal throughout the country’s history. … But very few, if any, of these figures actually resemble the position of Special Counsel Smith. Mr. Smith is a private citizen exercising the full power of a United States Attorney, and with very little oversight or supervision.”

Cannon’s dismissal on the appointments clause violation comes after the Supreme Court ruled two weeks ago that Trump is entitled to immunity from federal prosecution for official acts taken while in office, a decision that stemmed from the 2020 election-related case. Justice Clarence Thomas authored a solo concurring opinion that called into question the constitutionality of Smith’s appointment.

Trump and his lawyers had highlighted Thomas’ opinion, which is not binding, in recent filings to Cannon and argued that it bolstered their bid to toss out the indictment based on Smith’s allegedly unlawful appointment.

DELAY, DELAY, DELAY

The former president was indicted in South Florida last year, and the case proceeded slowly. A trial was set to begin in late May, but Cannon indefinitely postponed its start. The judge held several days of hearings in June to explore whether Smith’s appointment was within constitutional bounds and took the unusual step of allowing outside attorneys to participate in arguments before her.

In addition to the two sets of charges brought by Smith, Trump was also indicted on state charges in New York and Fulton County, Georgia.

In the New York case, a jury found Trump guilty in May on 34 counts of falsification of business records stemming from a $130,000 “hush money” payment his attorney made to adult film star Stormy Daniels in the run-up to the 2016 election. The verdict made Trump the first former president to be convicted of a crime, and he is set to be sentenced in September. But the former president is seeking to have the conviction tossed out, citing the Supreme Court’s immunity ruling.

The Fulton County case stems from what prosecutors claim was a multi-pronged scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia. Trump is facing 10 counts there and has pleaded not guilty. A trial date has not been set, as a state appeals court is weighing whether to allow Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to remain on the case. How that case proceeds will also be impacted by the Supreme Court’s immunity ruling.

Cannon’s ruling will not impact the Fulton County and New York cases, since they were brought by local prosecutors. But Trump and his team are likely to use the decision as the basis for tossing out Smith’s case in Washington, D.C., involving an alleged scheme to subvert the transfer of presidential power.

THE DOCUMENTS CASE

Smith’s case against Trump alleging he unlawfully held onto the nation’s secrets after leaving office was considered to be the strongest and potentially greatest legal threat to the former president.

His indictment last June, followed by new charges brought weeks later, were the culmination of a 15-month-long effort by the federal government to retrieve records Trump had at his South Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago, after his presidency ended in January 2021.

Wrangling between the National Archives and Records Administration and Trump’s representatives went on for months behind the scenes before the fight over the materials burst into public view on Aug. 8, 2022, when the FBI conducted a court-authorized search of Mar-a-Lago and found 100 documents marked classified. Cannon had agreed to appoint an independent arbiter to sift through the documents, but her decision to do so was overturned by a federal appeals court.

Before then, the Archives had retrieved 15 boxes of presidential records from Mar-a-Lago in January 2022, which contained 184 documents bearing classification markings. The Justice Department also obtained a grand jury subpoena in May 2022 for all documents with classification markings that were in Trump’s possession at Mar-a-Lago, and his lawyers turned over 38 records.

All told, investigators recovered roughly 300 sensitive documents from the South Florida property. Thirty-two of those records underlie counts of willful retention of national defense information that Trump was charged with.

Photos taken by the FBI or obtained by investigators during the probe showed boxes of documents and other material stacked in a storage room at Mar-a-Lago, on a stage in the estate’s ballroom and in a bathroom and shower.

Additional information had continued to trickle out into the public’s view as Cannon unsealed documents related to the federal investigation into Trump, including court records showing that federal agents suspected the former president might have tried to hinder the investigation in ways not previously known.

The links to the relied upon and quoted news sources are here:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-documents-case-dismissed-by-federal-judge/

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/florida-judge-dismisses-trump-classified-documents-case-rcna161878

ADDITIONAL KEY TAKEAWAYS

On July 15, CNN published on line a news article  entitled “Takeaways from the dismissal of the mishandling classified documents case against Donald Trump” written by CNN staff reporters Devan ColeMarshall Cohen and Hannah Rabinowitz. Following are key takeaways reported and edited for brevity with highlights:

CANNON SAYS SMITH’S FUNDING WAS ALSO UNLAWFUL

Cannon sided with Trump in his other major contention against Smith’s appointment as well – that the special counsel should not be receiving indefinite financing to support his prosecution.

Trump’s assertion was rooted in the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution. He argued that Smith’s funding cannot come from the Treasury unless it has been appropriated by an act of Congress.  Cannon wrote:

“For more than 18 months, Special Counsel Smith’s investigation and prosecution has been financed by substantial funds drawn from the Treasury without statutory authorization, and to try to rewrite history at this point seems near impossible. … The Court has difficulty seeing how a remedy short of dismissal would cure this substantial separation-of-powers violation, but the answers are not entirely self-evident, and the caselaw is not well developed.”

The appropriation reserved for independent prosecutors doesn’t apply to Smith because he is not sufficiently independent from the Justice Department, she said.

She noted that as of September 2023, Smith’s direct expenditures exceeded $12.8 million. He would have access to additional funds until the end of his investigation.

Cannon left open a potential pathway in her ruling for the classified documents case to be revived.

The Justice Department “could reallocate funds to finance the continued operation of Special Counsel Smith’s office,” she wrote, but said it’s not yet clear whether a newly-brought case would pass legal muster.

Prosecutors told Cannon in a hearing last month that the Justice Department was “prepared” to fund Smith’s cases through trial if necessary.

Smith’s team could also appeal the ruling, though any appellate challenges would make a pre-inauguration trial almost certainly out of reach.

LEANING ON CLARENCE THOMAS

The ruling comes exactly two weeks after Justice Clarence Thomas publicly aired similar doubts about the constitutionality of Smith’s appointment in a concurrence the conservative jurist penned in the blockbuster case granting the former president partial immunity.

Cannon leaned on Thomas’ concurrence in her ruling Monday, repeatedly quoting from part of it as she explained her decision to throw out the documents case.

In that matter, Thomas sided with Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s other conservatives in giving Trump some presidential immunity. But Thomas wrote separately to raise questions about whether Garland violated the Constitution when he appointed Smith as special counsel, an argument that wasn’t made by Trump’s attorneys before the trial-level judge overseeing that criminal case.

Justice Thomas wrote in his concurrence in the election case:

“There are serious questions whether the Attorney General has violated that structure by creating an office of the Special Counsel that has not been established by law. Those questions must be answered before this prosecution can proceed. … The lower courts should thus answer these essential questions concerning the Special Counsel’s appointment before proceeding.”

Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at Georgetown University Law Center said this:

“It’s hard to imagine that Justice Thomas wrote his concurrence, which addressed an issue that was not before the Supreme Court, with no awareness that it would be used this way.”

RULING IS AN OUTLIER THAT EMBRACED A LONGSHOT THEORY

The ruling from Cannon is an outlier that embraced a longshot legal theory that plenty of other judges have already rejected during previous special counsel investigations.

President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, attempted earlier this year to throw out his criminal cases based on the same theory that Trump brought before Cannon. (He is being prosecuted by a separate special counsel, David Weiss.) Federal judges in California and Delaware rebuffed his arguments, and federal appeals courts in both jurisdictions refused to get involved.

And during the Trump-Russia investigation, multiple Trump allies similarly attempted to derail special counsel Robert Mueller’s work. But multiple federal judges in Virginia and Washington, DC, upheld Mueller’s appointment.

Still, with all this history, Cannon held a hearing on the issue several weeks ago, pushing attorneys to explain exactly how Smith’s investigation into Trump was being funded.

The judge’s questions were so pointed that special counsel attorney James Pearce argued that even if Cannon were to throw out the case due to an appointments clause issue that the Justice Department was “prepared” to fund Smith’s cases through trial if necessary.

SMITH HAS DOJ OVERSIGHT, DESPITE CANNON’S CLAIMS

In the ruling, Cannon claimed Smith was operating “with very little oversight or supervision.”

She noted that, during last month’s hearing, “the Special Counsel refused to answer the Court’s questions regarding whether the Attorney General had played any actual role in seeking or approving the indictment in this case.”

The federal regulations that govern the special counsel’s office require Smith to coordinate some of his activities with Justice Department leadership. At the hearing, Smith’s team “appeared to acknowledge some degree of actual oversight consistent with the Regulations,” Cannon said. But their tight-lipped answers were clearly not enough to satisfy the judge – and she pointed out that they “resisted” to offer details.

Months before Smith was appointed, the investigation escalated in tremendous fashion in August 2022, when FBI agents raided Mar-a-Lago. The court-approved search turned up troves of documents with classification markings, as prosecutors suspected. Garland later said he “personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant,” indicating his hands-on involvement in at least one critical decision in this long-running investigation.

At a congressional hearing last month, Garland said he didn’t regret appointing Smith. Under questioning from GOP lawmakers, Garland noted that past judges upheld the legality of Mueller’s appointment during his investigation and that the question “has been adjudicated.”

MAJOR LEGAL QUESTIONS LEFT UNANSWERED

Cannon suggested in her ruling that she was leaving some of Trump’s major points in his appropriations clause challenge for review by an appeals court.

One of the arguments that Trump raised was that Smith’s appointment gave him a significant amount of power without the oversight of Congress. Former Attorney General Edwin Meese and Citizens United argued the same, writing that Smith’s appointment “severely undermines” the constitutional order.

Cannon wrote in her ruling that the issue was “a point worthy of consideration given the virtually unchecked power given to Special Counsel Smith under the Special Counsel Regulations.” She wrote:

“Ultimately, however, after examining the broad language in Supreme Court cases on the subject—and seeing a mixed picture, even if a compelling one in favor of a principal designation—the Court elects, with reservations, to reject the principal-officer submission and to leave the matter for review by higher courts,”

https://www.cnn.com/2024/07/15/politics/takeaways-dismissal-classified-documents-trump-cannon/index.html

DINELLI COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The dismissal of the case was very predictable from the get go seeing as that U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon was appointed by Trump and she has constantly shown biasness against the Department of Justice with her rulings as it prosecuted Trump.  She had no business being assigned the case and Special Prosecutor Jack Smith made the mistake not arguing she had the ethical obligation to recuse herself from the case because Trump appointed her.  Smith made the mistake likely believing that Cannon could be fair and impartial.

The Department of Justice announced that the decision by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon will be appealed.  It  may eventually be overturned by the appellate  court, but that will take months. The ruling guarantees that there will be no trial before the November 5 election, which in all likely was Cannon’s game plan all along.   Though the case had long been stalled, and the prospect of a trial before the November election was already nonexistent.

Simply put, Judge Cannons’ dismissal of the case against Trump is a disgrace.  It does a disservice to our federal criminal justice system that places Trump above the law. The decision is a genuine miscarriage of justice by Federal Judge Cannon who went out of her way and who engaged in judicial activism to create grounds for a dismissal that are dubious at best and rejected by other federal courts.

The ruling from Cannon is an outlier that embraced a longshot legal theory that over many decades other federal judges rejected during previous special counsel investigations. A federal statute enacted by congress gives the Attorney General the authority to make appointments of special councils.  Rather than follow judicial precedent, Cannon chose to follow the guidance of extremist right wing Justice Clarence Thomas that he gave in the presidential immunity case.

What we have now is a right wing political Judicial Branch of government consisting of hundreds of Trump appointed disciples like Judge Aileen Cannon Cannon and the 6 conservative  US Supreme Court Republican Trump disciples of John G. Roberts, Jr., Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito, Jr. Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett who will continue do whatever they can to find Trump is above the law and willing to please and to carry out the Trump political agenda.

The 6 appointed Republican US Supreme Justices have already made a profound difference with their right wing Republican Judicial Activism. The 6 Republican United State Supreme Court Justices have issued 6 major decisions that confirm it has become a far-right wing activist court.  The 1st was the court’s seriously considering an attempt to empower legislatures with exclusive authority to redraw congressional districts without court intervention. The 2nd  struct down decades of affirmative action in college admissions. The 3rd ruled that a Christian business owners can discriminate and withhold services to the LGBTQ+ community based on religious grounds.  The 4th invalidated President Joe Biden’s student loan debt relief plan. The 5th strips federal government agencies of all regulatory power and mandates court approval of rules and regulations. The 6th and most controversial is the Supreme Court reversing Roe v. Wade and 50 years of precedent and denying a woman’s right to choose an abortion and leaving it up to the state’s.

As the saying goes, elections have consequences. The 2024 presidential election is again shaping up to be one of the most consequential elections in our history where Supreme Court decisions will be on the ballot as well as the control of congress, not to mention our basic right to vote in an election and the Presidency.

A story has been told and retold about founding father Benjamin Franklin. Franklin was walking out of Independence Hall after the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when someone shouted out, “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” To which Franklin supposedly responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

 

Trump Assassination Attempt Makes Him The Victim Of Violence He Has Wished Upon Others; Biden Condemns Assassination Attempt; Trump Supporters Disgustingly Blame Biden; Trump’s Extensive History Of Inciting Violence

On July 13, former President Donald Trump became the target of an assassination attempt at a Pennsylvania rally, days before he is to accept the Republican nomination for a third time. The video images showed Trump speaking as he turned his head to the right and then him reacting to being shot in the right ear that he grabbed and then ducking down behind the podium.

Someone could be heard saying near the microphone at Trump’s lectern, “Get down, get down, get down, get down!” as secret service agents tackled Trump. They piled atop him to shield him with their bodies as other agents took up positions on stage to search for the threat. Secret Service helped him up to his feet and hurried him to his SUV. Visibly shaken with a wound to his right ear and blood streaming down one side of his face he yelled out “fight, fight” and pumped his fist numerous times in a show of anger and defiance.

Authorities said one attendee was killed and two spectators were critically injured and all were identified as men. The Secret Service said it killed the suspected shooter who it said attacked from an elevated position outside the rally venue, a farm show in Butler, Pennsylvania and said Trump was safe. The FBI named Thomas Matthew Crooks, 20, of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, “as the subject involved in the assassination attempt.” He is a registered Republican. The agency said the investigation remains active and ongoing. There was no immediate information on the shooter’s motivations.

The attack was the most serious attempt to assassinate a president or presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981. It will likely alter the tenor and security posture at the Republican National Convention, which begins on July 15 in Milwaukee. Trump’s campaign said the convention would proceed as planned.

TRUMP REACTS TO SHOOTING

In a post on Truth Social on July 13, Trump elaborated on what happened and described his injuries:

“I want to thank The United States Secret Service, and all of Law Enforcement, for their rapid response on the shooting that just took place in Butler, Pennsylvania. Most importantly, I want to extend my condolences to the family of the person at the Rally who was killed, and also to the family of another person that was badly injured.

It is incredible that such an act can take place in our Country. Nothing is known at this time about the shooter, who is now dead. I was shot with a bullet that pierced the upper part of my right ear. I knew immediately that something was wrong in that I heard a whizzing sound, shots, and immediately felt the bullet ripping through the skin. Much bleeding took place, so I realized then what was happening. GOD BLESS AMERICA!”

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN REACTS TO SHOOTING, MAKES PRIME TIME ADDRESS

President Joe Biden cut short a weekend at his beach home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to addressed the nation and he said this:

I have been briefed on the shooting at Donald Trump’s rally in Pennsylvania.  I’m grateful to hear that he’s safe and doing well. I’m praying for him and his family and for all those who were at the rally, as we await further information.  Jill and I are grateful to the Secret Service for getting him to safety. There’s no place for this kind of violence in America. … It’s sick. It’s sick. … We must unite as one nation to condemn it.

On July 14 in a prime-time national address from the Oval Office, Biden said political passions can run high but “we must never descend into violence.” The president said his party and the Republicans can compete forcefully over different policy visions but must do it in a civil fashion.

President Biden said this:

“All of us now face a time of testing as the election approaches. … There is no place in America for this kind of violence — for any violence. Ever. Period. No exception. We can’t allow this violence to be normalized.”

Since the shooting, President Biden and his team have been grappling with how to deal with the political path forward after the weekend attack targeting the very person Biden is trying to defeat in the November election.  Biden sharply condemned the attack, but indicated he plans to continue to press his campaign agenda and has “no doubt” Republicans will do the same during  their convention.

President Biden emphasized that disagreements must remain peaceful.  “We can do this,” Biden pleaded, saying the nation was founded on a democracy that gave reason and balance a chance to prevail over brute force. Biden also warned that political tensions were being inflamed because of  the  media coverage  and exploited by American enemies. Biden said  this:

“Here in America we need to get out of our silos, where we only listen to those with whom we agree, where misinformation is rampant, where foreign actors fan the flames of our division to shape the outcomes consistent with their interests, not ours.”

President Biden condemned the attempted assassination of  Trump  as “contrary to everything we stand for as a nation.” He ordered  an independent security review of how such an attack could have happened.   Biden  said he  also directed the U.S. Secret Service to review all security measures for the RNC. Biden promised a “thorough and swift” review and asked the public not to “make assumptions” about the shooter’s motives or affiliations.

The president said he and first lady Jill Biden were praying for the family of Corey Comperator a former fire chief who was shot and killed during the Trump rally Saturday night in Butler, Pennsylvania.  Biden said this:

“He was protecting his family from the bullets. … God love him.”

President Biden also said he’d had a “short but good conversation” with Trump in the hours after the shootings and said he was “sincerely grateful” that the former president is “doing well and recovering.”  Trump for his part  has called for national resilience since the shooting and posted on his social media account after Biden’s remarks “UNITE AMERICA!”

https://apnews.com/article/biden-trump-shooting-election-2024-704592d02c3421a767112f0bf6d25eb9

REPUBLICANS BLAME BIDEN FOR ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT

Many Republican elected officials are pointing fingers and quickly blaming the assassination attempt on President Joe Biden and his allies. They argue that sustained attacks on Trump as a threat to democracy have created a toxic environment. They pointed in particular to a comment President Biden made to donors on July 8, saying:

 “I have one job, and that’s to beat Donald Trump. I’m absolutely certain I’m the best person to be able to do that. So, we’re done talking about the debate, it’s time to put Trump in a bullseye.” 

Even as there has been a growing chorus condemning the reference, there is currently no evidence tying those comments to the shooter’s actions or motivations.

Rep. Mike Collins, R-Ga., shared the quote on X, along with the unfounded claim that “Joe Biden sent the orders.”

Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., Sen. Marsha Blackburn, and the X account for the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee shared the quote on X as well.

Republican Ohio United States Senator JD Vance tweeted this:

“Today is not just some isolated incident. The central premise of the Biden campaign is that President Donald Trump is an authoritarian fascist who must be stopped at all costs. That rhetoric led directly to President Trump’s attempted assassination.”

Senator JD Vance was a “never Trump” Republican in 2016. He called Trump “dangerous” and “unfit” for office. Vance also criticized Trump’s racist rhetoric, saying he could be “America’s Hitler.”  Vance conveniently ignores the fact the Trump himself told right wing FOX commentator Sean Hannity he wanted to be a dictator on day one if he is elected again.

NEWS UPDATE:  On July 15,  Former President Donald Trump announced he has picked Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, age 39, as his running mate, placing a young, ideological ally alongside him on the Republican 2024 ticket.  Trump announced Vance would be his running mate writing on Truth Social that the Ohio Republican is “the person best suited to assume the position of Vice President of the United States.”

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-picks-jd-vance-2024-running-mate/story?id=110909250

Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene alleged that the Democrats want Trump and his supporters dead and she tweeted this:

“Joe Biden told donors it’s “time to put Trump in a bull’s eye,” and that is EXACTLY what happened. House Democrats, led by Bennie Thompson, introduced a bill to strip USSS protection from President Trump. The weaponized DOJ has done everything they can to make sure President Trump spends the rest of his life in PRISON while sending non-violent J6ers to jail for years. They want President Trump and his supporters dead. We won’t forget.”

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2024/07/13/biden-trump-bullseye-quote/74397121007/

TRUMP’S EXTENSIVE HISTORY OF INCITING VIOLENCE

It is so very disgusting that Republican elected officials are blaming President Joe Biden for the assassination attempt of Former President Donald Trump. For that reason, Trumps extensive history of inciting violence merits review.

As recently as March 28, Former President Donald Trump shared a video on social media that included an image of President Joe Biden bound and restrained in the back of a pickup truck.  The 20-second video, which Trump indicated was taken in Long Island, New York, shows a truck emblazoned with “Trump 2024” and a large picture depicting Biden tied up and lying on his side.

Trump was in Long Island  for the wake of fallen NYPD officer Jonathan Diller.

When reached for comment on the image in the video, Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said, “That picture was on the back of a pick up truck that was traveling down the highway.” Cheung also accused “Democrats and crazed lunatics” of calling for violence against Trump and his family, arguing that “they are actually weaponizing the justice system against him.”

Cheung pointed to comments by Biden in 2018, before he declared his candidacy, when he said that if he and Trump were in high school he’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him” if he heard him demeaning women.

Biden campaign spokesman Michael Tyler slammed Trump for posting the video.

“This image from Donald Trump is the type of crap you post when you’re calling for a bloodbath or when you tell the Proud Boys to ‘stand back and stand by.  Trump is regularly inciting political violence and it’s time people take him seriously — just ask the Capitol Police officers who were attacked protecting our democracy on January 6.”

Trump has previously used violent imagery and rhetoric, both in his 2024 presidential campaign and before.  On March 16, he vowed that there would be a “bloodbath” if he was not re-elected, while speaking about the economy. Last year, before his numerous indictments, Trump warned about “potential death and destruction” if he were to be charged in the Manhattan district attorney’s hush money case against him.

Trump  also shared an article on Truth Social that had an image of him with a baseball bat near Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s head. The post was deleted. Trump also  used his Truth Social platform to go after Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing the hush money case, as well as the judge’s daughter after being hit with a partial gag order.

The link to the quoted news story with photos is here:

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2024-election/trump-shares-image-depicting-biden-tied-back-pickup-truck-rcna145712

On January 23, 2016, Donald Trump said at a rally in Sioux Center that his supporters are so loyal that he would not lose backers even if he were to shoot someone in the middle of downtown Manhattan, New York City and said this:

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, okay, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? … It’s, like, incredible.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/trump-says-he-could-shoot-somebody-still-maintain-support-n502911

On February 21, 2016, Trump told a crowd of his supporters in Cedar Rapids that he would pay their legal fees if they engaged in violence against protesters and said this:

“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously, OK? Just knock the hell out of them … I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise, I promise.”

http://time.com/4203094/donald-trump-hecklers/

On March 9, 2016, as a protester was being escorted out of a Trump rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the protester was sucker-punched by another attendee and Trump said nothing when it was brought to his attention.

At a Las Vegas campaign rally in March, 2016 Trump said security guards were too gentle with a protester and said “He’s walking out with big high-fives, smiling, laughing. … I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you.”

In yet another campaign rally in March, 2016 in Warren, Michigan, Trump said of a protester “Get him out. …Try not to hurt him. If you do, I’ll defend you in court. Don’t worry about it.”

In July 2017 during a speech to police officials, Trump encourage law enforcement officials to be more violent in handling arrested offenders when he said:

“When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just seen them thrown in, rough. I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice … When you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head you know, the way you put their hand over [their head],” Trump continued, mimicking the motion. “Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody, don’t hit their head. … You can take the hand away, OK?’”

During a rally in Montana ahead of the 2018 midterms, Trump praised Republican Greg Gianforte for body slamming a reporter while running for his congressional seat in 2017 and said “any guy who can do a body slam, he is my type!”

PIPE BOMBS SENT TO TRUMP CRITICS BY TRUMP SUPPORTER

In October, 2018, 14 pipe bombs were sent to Democrats who were outspoken critics of president Trump and people who he has vilified at his political rallies and on TWITTER.

The New York Times reported that on October 26, 2018 Federal authorities made an arrest in connection with the nationwide bombing campaign against outspoken Democratic critics of President Trump. The suspect was identified as Cesar Sayoc Jr., 56, of Aventura, Florida. Sayoc is a registered Republican.  He has a lengthy criminal history in Florida dating back to 1991. Sayoc’s criminal record includes felony theft, drug and fraud charges, as well as being arrested and accused of threatening to use a bomb.

Pipe bombs were sent to the home addresses of:

Former President Barack Obama
Former Vice President Joe Biden
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Former United States Attorney General Eric Holder
Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) John O. Brennan
California Congresswoman Maxine Waters
Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Billionaire philanthropist George Soros
Actor Robert Di Nero

A pipe bomb was also delivered to the offices of CNN in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.

During his arrest, Sayvoc’s white van was also seized as evidence. The van’s windows were plastered with a thick collage of pro-Trump stickers. Photos of the van showed that one of the stickers depicted President Trump standing in front of flames and the American flag. Another was of Hillary Clinton’s face in the crosshairs of a rifle scope. A third said: “CNN SUCKS.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/nyregion/cnn-cory-booker-pipe-bombs-sent.html

Photos and video emerged of Sayvoc attending a February, 2017 Trump Rally in Melbourne, Florida. He was holding a placard reading “CNN SUCKS”. Social media posts maintained by Cesar Sayoc Jr., contain conspiratorial memes promoting President Trump and mocking, criticizing and threatening virtually every prominent Democrat he sent a pipe bomb.

One post involving former Attorney General Eric Holder appointed by President Obama said “See you real soon. Tick Tock”.

In a September TWEET to former Vice President Joe Biden he wrote: “Hug your beloved son, Niece, wife family real close every time U walk out your home.”

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/mail-bomb-suspect-sayoc-shared-social-media-posts-about-targets

On Wednesday, October 24, 2018, after a briefing with FBI, DOJ, Homeland Security and Secret Service and during a subsequent White House function, President Trump had this to say about the “pipe bomber”:

“The safety of the American people is my highest and absolute priority. … The full weight of our government is being deployed to conduct and bring those responsible for these despicable acts to justice. We will spare no resources or expense in this effort. And I wanted to tell you that, in these times, we have to unify, we have to come together, and send one very clear, strong, unmistakable message, that that acts or threats of political violence have no place in the United States of America.”

https://deadline.com/2018/10/donald-trump-suspected-bombs-sent-to-his-favorite-targets-no-place-in-united-states-1202488702/

On Thursday, October 25, 2018, despite his lofty proclamations that “the safety of the American people is my highest and absolute priority’” and the very a day after CNN and Democrats were the targets of the pipe bombs, Trump in a TWEET blamed the media for much of the “anger” in society by saying:

“A very big part of the anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”

https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/25/politics/trump-blames-media-for-anger-after-attacks/index.html

JANUARY 6, 2020 CAPITAL RIOT

the Morning of January 6, a defeated Donald Trump for reelection spoke to thousands of his upset and angry supporters in Washington, DC in front of the White House before the Congress was to schedule to accept the electoral college vote as mandated by the United States Constitution and electing Joe Biden President.  As usual, Trump’s speech was inflammatory and full of lies. Trump told the crowd that the election had been “rigged” by “radical democrats” and the “fake news media” and he said in part:

“We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. … Our country has had enough. We’re not going to take it anymore.”

Not at all surprising, Trump stoked his followers to take action and head to capitol hill to protest and said:

“And after this, we’re going to walk down there, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down … to the Capitol and we are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women. … And we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. You’re the real people. You’re the people that built this nation. You’re not the people that tore down this nation.”

Soon after Trump spoke, his supporters believing all Trumps lies that the election was rigged, when it was not, went to the United States Capitol to protest. The Congress had already begun the process of counting and certifying the electoral college vote. A mob was able to breach security and successfully enter the building, where one person was shot and later died.

Hundreds of pro-Trump protesters pushed through barriers set up along the perimeter of the Capitol, where they engaged with officers in full riot gear, some calling police officers “traitors” for doing their jobs. About 90 minutes later the domestic terrorists got into the building and the doors to the House and Senate were locked. Shortly after, the House floor was evacuated by police. Vice President Mike Pence was also evacuated from the chamber, he was to perform his role in the counting of electoral votes. Some of the terrorists had even started to chant “HANG MIKE PENCE, HANG MIKE PENCE”.

The protesters first breached exterior security barriers, and video footage showed the domestic terrorists gathering and some clashing with police near the Capitol building. A number of Trump terrorists climbed up the side of the Capitol building to gain access. Windows were broken to gain access. Protesters roamed the interior of the building and went to the House Chamber and congressional offices and did property damage. In the end, 6 people died, one domestic terrorist shot and killed by capitol police with one capitol police officer succumbing to his injuries.

Within 7 hours after protestors took over the Capitol building and after they were evacuated from the building, the Congress returned to work and about 4:30 am in the morning on January 7, President Joe Biden was elected the new President of the United Sates. The final electoral college vote was Joe Biden 306 electoral votes, Donald Trump 232 electoral votes.

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The assassination attempt was nothing more than a reflection of just how seriously low and divided this country has become. The assassin was killed but not before wounding Trump as well as killing one and critically injuring two spectators.  There is no place for violence, political or otherwise, in this country.  We are in dangerous times and we must appeal to our better angels.  The political rhetoric and acts of violence in this country must stop and it should be condemned in no uncertain terms by all.  Although Trump himself expressed condolences to innocent man killed and the two injured he still did not condemn the violence in no uncertain terms as was done by President Biden.

For the last 8 years, there is little doubt that Trump promoted hostility, mistrust and violence towards the press as well as his critics with his words and conduct. Trump promoted violence, hostility and mistrust when he first ran for President and he is doing it again as he runs in 2024 for a second term.  Now that Trump is a victim of gun violence himself, the biggest unanswered question is if he will finally tone down his rhetoric of violence or will he play the martyr and escalate things even further and continue with his lying ways.

The link to a related blog article is here:

Trump Shares Video With Image Depicting Biden Tied Up In The Back Of A Pickup Truck; Trump Incites Violence Despite Gag Orders; Trump’s Extensive History Of Promoting Violence; Jail Trump Pending Criminal Trials Before Someone Gets Killed And Before Violent Assault On Court Houses

ABQ Journal Dinelli Guest Opinion Column: City should seek dismissal of ACLU lawsuit filed by homeless in wake of SCOTUS ruling

On Sunday, July 14, the Albuquerque Journal published a 600 word guest opinion column  written by Pete Dinelli. Many thanks to the Albuquerque Journal for publishing the article.  Following is the unedited opinion column followed by the link to the article with photos:

JOURNAL EDITORIAL PAGE HEADLINE: City should seek dismissal of ACLU lawsuit in wake of SCOTUS ruling

By PETE DINELLI

ALBUQUERQUE RESIDENT

“On Aug. 18, 2022, the city of Albuquerque closed Coronado Park that had become a de facto city-sanctioned homeless encampment that Mayor Tim Keller sanctioned.

The city evicted upwards of 100 unhoused who camped at the park nightly. The city cited numerous reasons for closure of the park, including overall damage to the park, lack of sanitation causing severe health risks, extensive drug trafficking and violent crimes including rapes and murders. Crime at the park reached crisis proportions and closure was a necessity.

On Dec. 19, 2022, the American Civil Liberties Union along with others filed a class-action lawsuit against the city of Albuquerque over the closure of Coronado Park. They alleged the city unlawfully seized personal property, denied due process of law, violated constitutional rights and forced all the unhoused out at Coronado Park with nowhere for them to go and the city not providing sufficient shelter for them.

The lawsuit sought court orders against the city to cease and desist city wide enforcement actions to stop the homeless from camping in public open spaces including streets, rights-of-ways, alleyways, under bridges and city parks unless the city has shelter or housing for them.

On Sept. 21, 2023, a state District Court judge issued a preliminary injunction against the city from “enforcing or threatening to enforce” statutes and city ordinances to displace the homeless from public spaces. The court said given a shortage of shelter beds, the city of Albuquerque cannot punish the homeless for their “mere presence” on public property citing the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment and the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.

On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its ruling in the case of Grants Pass v. Johnson. The case challenged the municipality’s ability to bar people from sleeping or camping in public areas, such as sidewalks and parks. The Supreme Court held that local laws that effectively criminalize homelessness do not violate the U.S. Constitution and do not constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

The Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision found that the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment does not extend to bans on outdoor sleeping in public places such as parks and streets. The Supreme Court ruled that cities can enforce bans on homeless people sleeping outdoors.

The city has spent or is spending upwards of $100 million a year on homeless services, including for two emergency shelters, subsidized housing, food and medical care and drug counseling. The vast majority of the chronically unhoused decline city shelter, housing, services and financial help offered or simply say they are not satisfied with what is being offered by the city.

The unhoused cannot be allowed to just ignore the law, illegally camp wherever they want for as long as they want, and as they totally reject any and all government housing or government services.

The city has every right to enforce its laws on behalf of its citizens to preserve and protect the public health, safety and welfare of all its citizens. Squatters who have no interest in any offers of shelter, beds, motel vouchers or alternatives to living on the street really give the city no choice but to make it totally inconvenient for them to “squat” anywhere they want and force them to move on.

After repeated attempts to force them to move on and citations, arrests are in order.

The city of Albuquerque should seek the immediate dismissal of the ACLU lawsuit based on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Grants Pass v. Johnson.”

Pete Dinelli is a former Albuquerque city councilor, former chief public safety officer and former chief deputy district attorney. You can read his daily news and commentary blog at www.PeteDinelli.com.

The link the Albuquerque Journal Guest column with photos is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/opinion/opinion-city-should-seek-immediate-dismissal-of-aclu-lawsuit-in-wake-of-scotus-ruling/article_ddd23c26-3f1c-11ef-b8ad-3b6d9c2901c5.html

The link to a related Dinelli blog article with in depth reporting is here:

US Supreme Court Rules Laws Prohibiting Camping By Unhoused In Public Spaces Are Not Cruel And Unusual Punishment; Albuquerque Should Seek Immediate Dismissal Of ACLU Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Closure Of Coronado Park

 

Gov. MLG Insists On Going Forward With July 18 Special Session Despite No Consensus Reached On Proposed Legislation; No Consensus On Any Legislation For Special Session Reflects Failed Leadership; Cancel Special Session

There are a total of 5 measures Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has put  forward for the July 18 Special Session she called on April 17. With just a few days remaining before the session, no consensus had been reached on any of the 5 measures the Governor wants passed.  The ACLU of New Mexico and numerous advocates for the homeless and mental health experts are asking the Governor to call off the special legislative session.  On July 10, the governor said that she doesn’t want to wait until next January’s 60-day legislative session to tackle the issues.

The Governor and her administration are now engaged in an aggressive public relations efforts to try and convince lawmakers, local public officials, judges and the public that her recommended legislative changes are vital, will work and can be approved during the July 18 special session on public safety.

SUMMATION OF PROPOSED LEGISLATION

On June 6, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Office outlined to the Court, Corrections and Justice Interim Committee five public-safety measures she wants legislators to address during the July 18 special session of the New Mexico legislature. The 5 measures can be summarized as follows:

The first measure would make changes to the state’s criminal competency law. This bill involves involuntary civil commitment for defendants charged with a serious violent offense, a felony involving the use of a firearm, or those defendants who have been found incompetent two or more times in the prior 12 months. Judges would be required to order district attorneys to consider filing for involuntary commitment, giving judges the ability to detain a defendant for up to seven days for the petition to be initiated. The intent is to prevent mentally incapacitated individuals from harming themselves or the public.

Supporters say there are far too many suspects who are arrested, deemed incompetent to stand trial, and then released back on the streets only to commit more crimes. It’s a bill designed to address in part the so-called “revolving door” where defendants are arrested only to be found incompetent to stand trial and then releasedThe  legislation is intended to strengthen a 2016 law and a program originally signed into law by former Governor Susana Martinez that allows district judges to order involuntary treatment for people with severe mental illness who have frequent brushes with law enforcement. It involves a program called the “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” (AOT).

The second measure would broaden the definitions of danger to oneself and danger to others in New Mexico’s involuntary commitment statute   that mandates involuntary treatment for people with mental illness. The bill would allow a judge to mandate out-patient treatment,. It would allow individuals, whether first responders, family members or community members who work with mentally ill individuals on the streets to request involuntary out-patient treatment.

The third measure would increase the crime of felon in possession of a firearm from a fourth-degree felony to a second-degree, and would set a new mandatory minimum term of nine years for the offense. Current law provides for a sentence of “up to three years for an offender.” Serious violent felons in possession would face a mandatory 12 years in prison, an increase from the current nine-year term.

The fourth measure would prohibit pedestrians from occupying highway medians, on-ramps, and is ostensibly directed at prohibiting panhandling and the homeless from occupying medians and off ramps.

The fifth measure  would require law enforcement agencies to report certain monthly crime incident reports and ballistic information to the state Department of Public Safety on crime incidents and ballistics information.

SUBSTITUTE BILL ANNOUNCED

On June 26 a substitute proposal was presented to the Court, Corrections and Justice Interim Committee interim legislative committee that would broaden eligibility for someone who could be ordered by a judge into involuntary mental health treatment. Representative Andrea Reeb, R-Clovis, responded that a shortage of behavioral health treatment options is an underlying problem that makes any changes in law difficult to enforce.

Reeb is a prosecutor in the 9th Judicial District.  She recently had difficulty finding in-patient treatment for a serial arsonist in her district. Reeb said this after hearing the new proposal:

“We don’t really have any facilities in our area to treat anybody except as an outpatient. … You can divert people all you want to different things, but you don’t have places to send them”.

On June 27, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office announced she has scrapped the proposal to expand court-supervised outpatient treatment for people with mental illness for debate during the July 18 Special Session.  The bill the governor withdrew was intended to strengthen a 2016 law that allows district judges to order involuntary treatment for people with severe mental illness who have frequent brushes with law enforcement. It would have required each of the state’s 13 judicial districts to create a program called Assisted Outpatient Treatment overseen by a civil court judge.

Holly Agajanian, the governor’s chief general counsel, told lawmakers that the governor was responding to concerns from legislators that the AOT bill was a “big lift” for a special session.  Agajanian told members of the interim Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee this:

“What we’ve decided instead to do is condense the goals here. [The substitute measure will take] small, necessary steps to help those people who are either a true danger to themselves or an extreme danger to others

The Governor’s Office is proposing to broaden eligibility for involuntary commitment by tweaking definitions in existing law. The existing involuntary commitment law essentially limits commitment to people who are suicidal. The proposed change would broaden the definition of “harm to self” and “harm to others” to cover more people eligible for involuntary treatment.

Under the new definition, “harm to self” would include a person unable “to exercise self-control, judgment and discretion in the conduct of the person’s daily responsibilities and social relations” or “to satisfy the person’s need for nourishment, personal or medical care,” housing and personal safety.

The proposed definition of “harm to others” would cover a person who “has inflicted, attempted to inflict or threatened to inflict serious bodily harm on another” or has taken actions that create “a substantial risk of serious bodily harm to another.” Harm to others could also apply to someone who has engaged in “extreme destruction of property” in the recent past.

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/governor-pulls-bill-to-expand-involuntary-treatment/article_bc1fa51a-34df-11ef-ae36-4f7a022267af.html

ANALYSIS OF COMPETENCY BILL

On June 26, an analysis of the number of people released back into the community after being found incompetent to stand trial was provided to the  Court, Corrections and Justice Interim Committee which held all day hearings for 4 days to consider all 5 measures. The analysis was not completed and was unavailable yet when the competency bill legislation failed in the 2024 legislative session.  Major findings of the analysis are as follows:

  • More than 3,200 people charged with crimes since 2017 in New Mexico have been released back to the community after being found incompetent to stand trial, according to an analysis fueling Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s call for a special session.
  • More than 5,350 of the 16,045 dismissed charges were felonies, according to the analysis. The dismissals included those charged with first-degree murder, trafficking controlled substances, kidnapping, and abuse of a child, according to data of the state Administrative Office of the Courts.
  • Other defendants charged with lesser crimes have been repeat offenders caught in a cycle of being charged and released only to be arrested again, charged, and let go after court-ordered evaluations showed they cannot participate in their defense and a judge ruled they were mentally incompetent to stand trial.

After seeing the analysis, Lujan Grisham called the number of criminal case dismissals “frankly, shocking.” The Governor said this to the Albuquerque Journal:

“Some of these have been in court up to 40 times in a year. If we don’t interrupt that, the status quo that you see playing out in our communities every day will stay. … I’m trying to break that cycle [and] focus on the criminal competency loophole. … The notion that we would have 3,200-plus individuals reoffending for another year is more than I think any New Mexican should have to bear”.

NEED FOR CHANGES IN MENTAL HEALTH COMMITMENT LAWS

The Governor argues her proposed changes to the mental health commitment laws are needed immediately. She said her proposed changes benefit those who need support, whether it’s a drug user kicked out of his house by his family who turns to the streets and sells drugs for a living or a mentally ill person who ends up without a home and no after-care plan for treatment after being released from jail.

The Governor said this:

“We seem to have an underlying public safety or criminal aspect, in addition to some affordability issues, in addition to a significant mental health population. … [The current statute for commitment] is too narrow. Most people don’t qualify. That’s what the commitment changes will do.”

The Governor said the state is now better equipped to deal with those who need help. Since 2019, the behavioral health provider network in New Mexico has grown by 73% from nearly 3,200 providers to more than 5,500, according to her office. The Governor said this:

“We have 100-plus beds today [around the state] to serve people right now.”

The link to the quoted and relied upon news source is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/courts/governor-to-legislature-fix-needed-now-for-mentally-incompetent-defendants/article_23d5c0e0-3ef4-11ef-98e5-bb2b70b79702.html#tncms-source=home-featured-7-block

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It is extremely disappointing that since April 17 when Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham called for a special session, and with just a few days before the July 18 Special Session, that the Governor and the New Mexico legislature leadership have failed to come to any consensus whatsoever on substantive public safety legislation for quick enactment by the legislature on July 18. The failure is a reflection of failed leadership on both sides.

The Governor’s proposed changes to the state’s mental health laws have some merit. However, to be perfectly blunt, the measures fall very short on actually accomplishing much when it comes to public safety given the fact the state is seriously deficient when it comes to mental health care facilities and mental health professionals. The Governor’s  mental health care proposals contain nothing with respect to funding. The mental health measures should be withdrawn and taken up during the 2025 regular 60 day session.

WITHDRAW OTHER 3 MEASURES ON SPECIAL SESSION AGENDA

There are 3 other measures that the Governor wants the Specials Session to enact apart from the mental health proposals.  All three of those measures are leftovers from the 2024 legislative session.  The 3 additional measures proposed by the Governor are ones that cannot be consider as a having a real sense of urgency and for that reason alone  she should withdraw those measures.  All 3 should be handled in the regular session for the following reasons:

The bill that would strengthen penalties for a felon convicted of possessing a firearm, making the crime a second-degree felony, punishable by a minimum of nine years in prison is one that standing alone will not make that much of a difference.  During the Governors tenure, the legislature has in fact increased felony criminal penalties  upwards of 6 times.

The bill to prohibit pedestrians from occupying highway medians, on-ramps and exit ramps is directed at the unhoused and panhandling in general and  is an exercise in futility. Such laws are difficult to enforce and law enforcement needs to concentrate on far more serious crime. Albuquerque has enacted such an ordinance, as has other communities, and it goes unenforced as panhandlers and the unhoused continue to occupy medians and on ramps and as the ACLU is successfully challenge  the laws in court as being unconstitutional.

The bill that would require law enforcement agencies to report certain monthly crime incident reports and ballistic information could likely be accomplished by executive orders and does not necessarily need legislation. Better cooperation between law enforcement is what is needed.

Without any consensus on any legislation, the July 18 Special Session will be a waste of time and taxpayer funding and for that matter somewhat of an embarrassment for both the Governor and the New Mexico Legislature. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham should concede to reality that the legislature is not at all interested in cooperating with her and cancel the July 18 Special Session.

The link to a related blog article is here:

Gov. MLG Withdraws Involuntary Commitment Bill for July 18 Special Session; No Consensus On Any Legislation For Special Session Reflects Failed Leadership; Cancel Special Session; Governor and Legislature Should Regroup And Push For Enactment Of “Omnibus Violent Crime Sentencing Act And Gun Control Act” In 2025 Regular Session

US Supreme Court Rules Laws Prohibiting Camping By Unhoused In Public Spaces Are Not Cruel And Unusual Punishment; Albuquerque Should Seek Immediate Dismissal Of ACLU Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Closure Of Coronado Park

On  December 19, 2022  the American Civil Liberties Union and others filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of 8 plaintiffs against the City of Albuquerque over the closure of Coronado Park and alleging civil rights violations. On June 28, 2024 the United State Supreme Court announced its ruling in the case of Grants Pass v. Johnson where the court held that local laws effectively criminalizing homelessness do not violate the U.S. Constitution and do not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. This article is an in depth analysis and commentary on the Supreme Court’s ruling and its impact on the class action lawsuit filed against the City of Albuquerque.

CLOSURE OF CORONADO PARK

On August 18, 2022, the City of Albuquerque closed Coronado Park that had become a de facto city sanctioned homeless encampment that Mayor Tim Keller allowed and where the city evicted up to 100 unhoused who camped there nightly.  The city cited numerous reasons for closure of the park including lack of sanitation posing a severe health risks, overall damage to the park and extensive drug trafficking and violent crime, including rapes and murders at the park having reached crisis proportions. The city was spending upwards of $50,000 a month to clean up Coronado  Park.

The biggest factor and justification for closing Coronado Park was crime. The city park had an extensive history lawlessness including drug use, violence, murder, rape and mental health issues. In 2020, there were 3 homicides at Coronado Park. In 2019, a disabled woman was raped, and in 2018 there was a murder. APD reported that it was dispatched to the park 651 times in 2021 and 312 times  in 2022. There had been 16 stabbings at the park in 2 years.  In 2023, APD had seized from the park 4,500 fentanyl pills, more than 5 pounds of methamphetamine, 24 grams of heroin and 29 grams of cocaine. APD also found $10,000 in cash. All the seized drugs were tied to a single bust that occurred at a nearby motel, not the park, though an APD spokeswoman said the suspect was “mainly doing all their distributions [at the park].”

CLASS ACTION LAWSUITE FILED AGAINST CITY OF ALBUQUERQUE

On December 19, 2022 the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, the NM Center on Law & Poverty, and the law firms of Ives & Flores, PA and Davis Law New Mexico filed a “Class Action Complaint For Violations of Civil Rights and for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief” against the City of Albuquerque on behalf 4 men and 4 women identified to be homeless.  All 8 who were evicted by the city from Coronado Park.  Not one of the 8 plaintiffs allege they were charged or arrested for refusing to leave Coronado Park on the day it was closed nor were they jailed.

The Plaintiffs allege they were displaced from Coronado Park when the city closed it and that the city did not provide satisfactory shelter options to them.  The city said it did give notice and offered shelter and services, including vouchers.  According to an ACLU the lawsuit was filed to stop the City of Albuquerque from destroying encampments of the unhoused all over the city and preventing the city from seizing and destroying personal property and jailing and fining people for being unhoused.

The lawsuit alleges the city unlawfully seized personal property, denied due process of law, and violated constitutional rights by destroying property and forced all the unhoused at Coronado Park out with nowhere for them to go and with the city not providing sufficient shelter for them. The lawsuit sought court orders that required the city to cease and desist enforcement actions to stop the unhoused from camping in public spaces which includes public streets, public rights of ways, alleyways, under bridges and city parks unless the city has shelter or housing for them.

On September 21, 2023  State District Court Judge Josh Allison entered a Preliminary Injunction against the City of Albuquerque from “enforcing or threatening to enforce” statutes and city ordinance to displace the homeless from public spaces. The Court also enjoined the city from seizing and destroying homeless belongings and mandated a warrant and post deprivation hearings regarding personal belongings seized.

Judge Allison issued a preliminary ruling that said, given a shortage of shelter beds, the city of Albuquerque cannot punish homeless people for their “mere presence” on public properties. The injunction, which was later modified, was put in place and restricted how the city can ask people camping on public property to move. The injunction cited both the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.

The injunction was designed to limit the city’s sweeps of homeless encampments but the injunction was dropped in May of 2024. The injunction required that campers be given a 72-hour notice to vacate and be offered storage for belongings and transportation to a shelter. It also required an opportunity for belongings to later be reclaimed. The city said even though the injunction was dropped in May, it has been giving campers appropriate notice and offering resources.  The city said it will continue to send staff to conduct welfare checks at encampment sites and offer a list of services for campers.

A trial date was scheduled for August of this year, but it was vacated as a result of the pending United States Supreme Court case Grants Pass v. Johnson 

STATUTES AND ORDINANCES ENUMERATED

The lawsuit against the city specifically enumerates New Mexico Statutes and City Ordinances that have been enacted to protect the general public health, safety, and welfare and to protect the public’s peaceful use and enjoyment of property rights. The lawsuit does not challenge the constitutionality of any of the state statutes nor city ordinances.

The lawsuit makes the very broad allegation that “the  City regularly enforces City ordinances and state laws against unhoused people in a manner that criminalizes their status as homeless … [and] …  Unhoused people who erect tents or makeshift shelters around the City are routinely cited and/or arrested for violations of [the state laws and city ordinances].   Violations of these statutes and ordinances are punished as misdemeanors.”

All the laws cited have been on the books for decades and are applicable and are enforced against all citizens and not just the unhoused. The specific statutes cited in the lawsuit are:

  1. NMSA 1978, Section 30-14-1 (1995), defining criminal trespass on public and private property.
  2. NMSA 1978, Section 30-14-4 (1969), defining wrongful use of property used for a public purpose and owned by the state, its subdivisions, and any religious, charitable, educational, or recreational association.
  3. Albuquerque City Ordinance 12-2-3, defining criminal trespass on public and private property.
  4. Albuquerque City Ordinance 8-2-7-13, prohibiting the placement of items on a sidewalk so as to restrict its free use by pedestrians.
  5. Albuquerque City Ordinance 10-1-1-10, prohibiting being in a park at nighttime when it is closed to public use.
  6. Albuquerque City Ordinance 12-2-7, prohibiting hindering persons passing along any street, sidewalk, or public way.
  7. Albuquerque City Ordinance 5-8-6, prohibiting camping on open space lands and regional preserves.
  8. Albuquerque City Ordinance 10-1-1-3, prohibiting the erection of structures in city parks.

All the above laws are classified as “non-violent crimes” and are misdemeanors.  The filing of criminal charges by law enforcement are discretionary when the crime occurs in their presence.  The City of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Police Department has agreed that only citations will be issued and no arrests will be made for violations of the 8 statutes and city ordinance as part of a court approved settlement in  a decades old federal civil rights lawsuit dealing with jail overcrowding.

US SUPREME COURT CASE GRANTS PASS V. JOHNSON

 On June 28, the United State Supreme Court announced its ruling in the case of Grants Pass v. Johnson where the court held that local laws effectively criminalizing homelessness do not violate the U.S. Constitution and do not constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

The case challenged a municipality’s ability to bar people from sleeping or camping in public areas, such as sidewalks and parks. The case is strikingly similar in facts and circumstances and laws to the case filed against the City of Albuquerque over the closure of Coronado Park.

The case came from the rural Oregon town of Grants Pass, which appealed a ruling striking down local ordinances that fined people $295 for sleeping outside after tents began crowding public parks. The homeless plaintiffs argued that Grants Pass, a town with just one 138-bed overnight shelter,  criminalized them for behavior they couldn’t avoid: sleeping outside when they have nowhere else to go.

Meanwhile, municipalities across the western United States argued that court rulings hampered their ability to quickly respond to public health and safety issues related to homeless encampments.  The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over the nine Western states, ruled in 2018 that such bans violate the Eighth Amendment in areas where there aren’t enough shelter beds.

The United States Supreme Court  considered  whether cities can enforce laws and take action against or punish the unhoused for sleeping outside in public spaces when shelter space is lacking. The case is the most significant case heard by the high court in decades on the rights of the unhoused and comes as a rising number of people in the United States are without a permanent place to live.

In a 6-3 decision along ideological lines, the Supreme Court  reversed a ruling by a San Francisco-based appeals court that found outdoor sleeping bans amount to “cruel and unusual punishment” under the United States Constitution. The majority found that the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment does not extend to bans on outdoor sleeping in public places such as parks and streets.  The Supreme Court ruled  that cities can enforce bans on homeless people sleeping outdoors, even in West Coast areas where shelter space is lacking.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the majority:

“Homelessness is complex. Its causes are many. So may be the public policy responses required to address it. … A handful of federal judges cannot begin to ‘match’ the collective wisdom the American people possess in deciding ‘how best to handle’ a pressing social question like homelessness. … Cities across the West report that the 9th Circuit’s involuntary test has crated intolerable uncertainty for them.”

Gorsuch suggested that people who have no choice but to sleep outdoors could raise that as a “necessity defense,” if they are ticketed or otherwise punished for violating a camping ban.

A bipartisan group of leaders had argued the ruling against the bans made it harder to manage outdoor encampments encroaching on sidewalks and other public spaces in nine Western states. That includes California, which is home to one-third of the country’s homeless population.

Homeless advocates argue that allowing cities to punish people who need a place to sleep would criminalize homelessness and ultimately make the crisis worse. Cities had been allowed to regulate encampments but couldn’t bar people from sleeping outdoors.

Progressive Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketangi Brown Jackson dissented. Sotomayor read from the bench the dissent and said this:

“Sleep is a biological necessity, not a crime. … Punishing people for their status is ‘cruel and unusual’ under the Eighth Amendment. … It is quite possible, indeed likely, that these and similar ordinances will face more days in court. … It is possible to acknowledge and balance the issues facing local governments, the humanity and dignity of homeless people, and our constitutional principles. … [But the majority instead] focuses almost exclusively on the needs of local governments and leaves the most vulnerable in our society with an impossible choice: Either stay awake or be arrested.”

Attorney Theane Evangelis, who represented Grants Pass before the high court, applauded the ruling, saying the 9th Circuit decision had “tied the hands of local governments.”  Evangelis said this:

“Years from now, I hope that we will look back on today’s watershed ruling as the turning point in America’s homelessness crisis.”

The Supreme Courts ruling comes after homelessness in the United States has peaked and grown 12% last year to its highest reported level, as soaring rents and a decline in coronavirus pandemic assistance combined to put housing out of reach for more people. More than 650,000 people are estimated to be homeless, the most since the country began using a yearly point-in-time survey in 2007. Nearly half of them sleep outside. Older adults, LGBTQ+ people and people of color are disproportionately affected, advocates said. In Oregon, a lack of mental health and addiction resources has also helped fuel the crisis.

The Link to a quoted and relied upon news sources are here:

https://www.koat.com/article/supreme-court-oregon-homelessness/61453397

CITY’S REACTION TO SUPREME COURT RULING

On June 28, the City of Albuquerque issued the following news release in response to the US Supreme Court ruling in Grants Pass v. Johnson:

 “In the coming weeks, City leaders will evaluate how the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Grants Pass v. Johnson will affect Albuquerque. The City appreciates more flexibility to enforce ordinances and will continue to protect the rights of unhoused individuals. 

The City of Albuquerque responds to over 50 illegal camps every day. Outreach staff conduct welfare checks on all those at camp sites, then provide an extensive list of services including medical, shelter, behavioral health, and property storage. The Albuquerque Community Safety (ACS) department provides evaluation and transport for anyone who accepts services. This process will continue. 

“I know there will be mixed reactions to this ruling in our community, so I want to be clear—the City will continue to do everything in our power to get people the help they need and to deal promptly with illegal encampments,” said Mayor Tim Keller.

The City of Albuquerque has made historic investments over the last few years to increase the number of shelter beds, resources, and pathways out of homelessness. 

Prior to this administration, the Westside Emergency Housing Center was only open at night and during the winter. We made it year-round, 24/7 and increased the bed capacity. We opened the Gateway and have shelter for families, providing wrap around services for people get into permanent housing faster. The Gateway will nearly quadruple in size by next spring and will serve 1,000 people a day.

The City has also tripled supportive housing vouchers since FY18, one of the most effective ways to ensure a permanent exit from homelessness. Since 2018, the City has also invested more than $71 million to bring over 2,200 new housing units to market and is buying and converting underutilized hotels into housing, like Los Altos Lofts. This summer we are dedicating $23 million to help developers build affordable housing. 

“We know that everyone’s story is unique, and people need compassionate support and resources to exit homelessness and get the stable housing that they deserve,” said Gilbert Ramirez, Director of Health, Housing and Homelessness. “We are adding vital services and working with our partners to build out a robust continuum of care so we can lift up those struggling in our city.” 

“ACS builds relationships with people experiencing homelessness through our outreach, and we work to establish trust so that people are comfortable getting the services they need,” said Albuquerque Community Safety Department Acting Director Jodie Esquibel. “We will continue to work in step with the community to connect people resources.” 

The City has also worked tirelessly with our partners at Bernalillo County and UNM to identify and fill in gaps in Albuquerque’s behavioral health and substance use treatment system. The newly opened Crisis Triage Center at UNM and the Gateway’s Medical Sobering, opening this fall, will connect thousands of people per year to the psychiatric, peer support, and substance use recovery services they need while relieving our strained emergency rooms.

The link to the news release is here:

https://www.cabq.gov/mayor/news/city-leaders-react-to-grants-pass-v-johnson-ruling

NEW MEXICO ACLU REACTS TO SUPREME COURT RULING

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, one of the groups representing the plaintiffs in the Albuquerque lawsuit, indicated a state constitution argument could still be pursued and called fines or jail time imposed for sleeping outside “inhumane and ineffective.”

Maria Archuleta, communications director for ACLU New Mexico, said this in a statement in reaction to the Supreme Court ruling:

“Here in New Mexico, we believe our state constitution provides broader protections than its federal counterpart. … We will continue to push back against municipalities that criminalize people for simply existing in public spaces.”

The links to a quoted and relied upon news sources is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/supreme-court-rules-that-outdoor-camping-bans-are-lawful-how-could-that-decision-affect-albuquerque/article_d708fdd6-3593-11ef-bb6d-8350d9880c72.html#tncms-source=home-featured-7-block

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The Supreme Court ruling in Grants Pass v. Johnson will no doubt have a major impact on the class action lawsuit filed against the City of Albuquerque.  The US Supreme Court has aggressively reversed the lower federal court’s ruling that local laws the ACLU feel effectively criminalizing homelessness do not violate the U.S. Constitution and do not constitute cruel and unusual punishment as they alleged in their case against the city. There is no requirement that local government nor municipalities be required to provide sufficient, satisfactory housing options to the unhoused before they can cite or make an arrest.

The closure of Coronado Park was absolutely necessary because of what it had become which was a violent, crime invested, ground contaminated park that posed an immediate threat to the unhoused, the surrounding neighborhood and to the general public. The unhoused have reached crisis proportions, not because their numbers have increased, but because they have become far more visible and aggressive by illegally camping in parks, on streets, in alleyways and in city open space, whenever they want and refusing city services, medical attention and city shelter. The overwhelming majority of the Coronado Park unhoused declined the services and shelter offered. Many told the city they planned to move to another park or street location.

The ACLU lawsuit makes sweeping allegations of civil rights violations that are highly inflammatory and, in many respects, simply false.  The suit alleges that “the City regularly enforces City ordinances and state laws against unhoused people in a manner that criminalizes their status as homeless, the City deprives them of the means to survive.  The destruction of people’s tents, tarps, blankets, and sleeping bags leaves them completely exposed to the elements. The destruction of people’s medicine, food, and water deprives them of some of the most essential conditions for life.”   Stolen grocery store baskets brimming with abandoned items found in business dumpsters or residential garbage bins are not “meager, essential necessities for life.”

The ACLU complaint against the city essentially asserts the unhoused, because of their status and because there is no city housing available, they have the right to violate the law and illegally camp wherever they want for how long as they want without government interference.  The unhoused are not above the law and do not have the right to violate the law because they are homeless.

The complaint alleges that the city is “jailing and fining” the unhouse because of their status of being homeless. This allegation is FALSE.  APD has a “no arrest” policy for nonviolent homeless crimes such as trespass on public and private property, illegal camping in city parks and streets, rights of way, alleyways and open space. When the unhoused are cited for such crimes, they are given a 3-day notice to vacate their encampment along with their belongings.  When APD arrests or detains the unhoused it’s for felonies such as illicit drugs, stolen property, stolen or unlicensed guns or weaponry, individuals with outstanding arrest warrants or unhoused who pose an immediate threat to the public or themselves.

Being unhoused is not a crime. Government, be it federal or local, have a moral obligation to help and assist the unhoused, especially those that are mentally ill or who are drug addicted.  The city has spent or is spending upwards of $100 million a year on homeless services including for two  emergency shelters, subsidized housing, food and medical care and drug counseling. The vast majority of the chronically unhoused refuse or decline city shelter, housing, services and financial help offered or simply say they are not satisfied with what is being offered by the city.

The unhoused are not above the law. They cannot be allowed to just ignore the law, illegally camp wherever they want for as long as they want and as they choose, when they totally reject any and all government housing or shelter assistance. The City has every right to enforce its laws on behalf of its citizens to preserve and protect the public health, safety and welfare of all its citizens.

Unlawful encampment squatters who refuse city services and all alternatives to living on the street, who want to camp at city parks, on city streets in alleys and trespass in open space give the city no choice but to take action and force them to move on. The city needs to seek the immediate dismissal of the case and the 8 plaintiffs unsubstantiated or questionable claims for a failure to state claims upon which relief can be granted.

Allowing the homeless to use, congregate and camp anywhere they want for as long as they want in violation of city laws and ordinances should never be considered as an option to deal with the homeless crisis given all the resources the city is dedicating the millions being  spent  to assist the homeless.  It was Mayor Keller who allowed a once beautiful and pristine park dedicated to public use to become a festering blight on the community.

Simply put, Coronado became an embarrassment with the city violating its own ordinances and nuisance laws by allowing overnight camping and criminal conduct in the park thus creating a public nuisance both under state law and city ordinance. Coronado Park became the symbol of Keller’s failure as Mayor to deal with the homeless crisis and he had to deal with a nuisance property of his own creation.

The homeless crisis will not be solved by the city nor by Mayor Keller, but it can and must be managed. The management of the crisis is to provide the support services, including food and lodging, and mental health care needed to allow the homeless to turn their lives around, become productive self-sufficient citizens, no longer dependent on relatives or others.

Too many elected and government officials and organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Association of New Mexico, have a hard time dealing with the fact that many homeless adults simply want to live their life as they choose, where they want to camp for as long as they can get away with it, without any government nor family interference and especially no government rules and no regulations.  No county and no municipality should ever be required to just simply ignore and to not enforce anti-camping ordinances, vagrancy laws, civil nuisance abatement laws and criminal laws designed to protect the general public’s health, safety and welfare of a community.

Squatters who have no interest in any offers of shelter, beds, motel vouchers or alternatives to living on the street really give the city no choice but to make it totally inconvenient for them to “squat” anywhere they want and force them to move on. After repeated attempts to force them to move on and citations, arrests are in order.

The City of Albuquerque should seek the immediate dismissal of the ACLU lawsuit based on the United States Supreme Court ruling in Grants Pass v. Johnson .

Links to related blog articles are here:

Unhoused Sue City Over Coronado Park Closure; City Should Seek Immediate Dismissal; Unhoused Cannot Be Allowed To Violate The Law As They Refuse City Shelter And Services

https://www.petedinelli.com/2023/09/25/judge-enjoins-city-from-enforcing-or-threatening-to-enforce-laws-against-homeless-to-displace-them-from-public-spaces-seizing-and-destroying-homeless-belongings-without-warran/

https://www.petedinelli.com/2022/08/18/coronado-park-closed-self-proclaimed-mayor-of-corondo-park-arrested-now-the-hard-part-of-dealing-with-displacements/

 

Gov. MLG Withdraws Involuntary Commitment Bill for July 18 Special Session; No Consensus On Any Legislation For Special Session Reflects Failed Leadership; Cancel Special Session; Governor and Legislature Should Regroup And Push For Enactment Of “Omnibus Violent Crime Sentencing Act And Gun Control Act” In 2025 Regular Session

On April 17, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she was calling state legislators into a Special Session starting July 18 with a focus on addressing public safety proposals.  On June 6, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Office outlined to the Court, Corrections and Justice Interim Committee five public-safety measures she wants legislators to address during the July 18 special session of the New Mexico legislature. Three of the measures are:

  1. A bill that would strengthen penalties for a felon convicted of possessing a firearm, making the crime a second-degree felony, punishable by a minimum of nine years in prison,
  2. A bill would to prohibit pedestrians from occupying highway medians, on-ramps, and
  3. A bill that would require law enforcement agencies to report certain monthly crime incident reports and ballistic information.

The remaining two measures relate to criminal competency laws and involuntary treatment for people with mental illness.  The two measures can be described as follows:

The first measure would make changes to the state’s criminal competency law. The bill would send criminal defendants who are found incompetent to stand trial to a mental health or behavioral health treatment program. Supporters say there are far too many suspects who are arrested, deemed incompetent to stand trial, and then released back on the streets only to commit more crimes. It’s a bill designed to address in part the so-called “revolving door” where defendants are arrested only to be found incompetent to stand trial and then released The bill, which did not make it very far in the previous legislative session, was  at the top of the special session agenda. The legislation is intended to strengthen a 2016 law and a program originally signed into law by former Governor Susana Martinez that allows district judges to order involuntary treatment for people with severe mental illness who have frequent brushes with law enforcement. It involves a program called the “Assisted Outpatient Treatment” (AOT).

The second measure would expand a program that mandates involuntary treatment for people with mental illness. The bill is an assisted out-patient treatment bill proposal that would allow a judge to mandate out-patient treatment, including involuntarily commitments. It would allow individuals, whether first responders, family members or community members who work with mentally ill individuals on the streets to request involuntary out-patient treatment.

GOVERNOR MLG WITHDRAWS INVOLUNTARY COMMITMENT BILL FROM JULY 11 SPECIAL SESSION 

On June 27, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office announced she has scrapped the proposal to expand court-supervised outpatient treatment for people with mental illness for debate during the July 18 Special Session.

On June 26 a substitute proposal was presented to the Court, Corrections and Justice Interim Committee interim legislative committee that would broaden eligibility for someone who could be ordered by a judge into involuntary mental health treatment. Representative Andrea Reeb, R-Clovis, responded that a shortage of behavioral health treatment options is an underlying problem that makes any changes in law difficult to enforce.

Reeb is a prosecutor in the 9th Judicial District.  She recently had difficulty finding in-patient treatment for a serial arsonist in her district. Reeb said this after hearing the new proposal:

“We don’t really have any facilities in our area to treat anybody except as an outpatient. … You can divert people all you want to different things, but you don’t have places to send them”.

The bill the governor withdrew was intended to strengthen a 2016 law that allows district judges to order involuntary treatment for people with severe mental illness who have frequent brushes with law enforcement. It would have required each of the state’s 13 judicial districts to create a program called Assisted Outpatient Treatment overseen by a civil court judge.

Holly Agajanian, the governor’s chief general counsel, told lawmakers that the governor was responding to concerns from legislators that the AOT bill was a “big lift” for a special session.  Agajanian told members of the interim Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee this:

“What we’ve decided instead to do is condense the goals here. [The substitute measure will take] small, necessary steps to help those people who are either a true danger to themselves or an extreme danger to others

The Governor’s Office is proposing to broaden eligibility for involuntary commitment by tweaking definitions in existing law. The existing involuntary commitment law essentially limits commitment to people who are suicidal. The proposed change would broaden the definition of “harm to self” and “harm to others” to cover more people eligible for involuntary treatment.

Under the new definition, “harm to self” would include a person unable “to exercise self-control, judgment and discretion in the conduct of the person’s daily responsibilities and social relations” or “to satisfy the person’s need for nourishment, personal or medical care,” housing and personal safety.

The proposed definition of “harm to others” would cover a person who “has inflicted, attempted to inflict or threatened to inflict serious bodily harm on another” or has taken actions that create “a substantial risk of serious bodily harm to another.” Harm to others could also apply to someone who has engaged in “extreme destruction of property” in the recent past.

The governor has also proposed a criminal competency bill that would place certain requirements on judges and prosecutors when a criminal defendant is found incompetent to stand trial and charges are dismissed. The proposed bill would require district attorneys to file a petition seeking involuntary civil commitment for certain criminal defendants who are found incompetent to stand trial. The requirement would apply to people charged with serious violent felonies or crimes that involve the use of a firearm. It would also apply to people who had been found incompetent to stand trial at least twice before. Judges would be required to order the person jailed for up to seven days while a petition for involuntary commitment is filed.

https://www.abqjournal.com/news/governor-pulls-bill-to-expand-involuntary-treatment/article_bc1fa51a-34df-11ef-ae36-4f7a022267af.html

https://www.petedinelli.com/2024/06/14/republican-legislative-leaders-slam-gov-mlgs-proposal-to-strengthen-supervised-outpatient-treatment-program-for-people-with-severe-mental-illness-as-undoable-in-special-ses/

NEED FOR SPECIAL SESSION CALLED INTO QUESTION

During a meeting of the Court, Corrections and Justice Interim Committee both Democrats and Republicans asked why a special session was needed to be called for legislation that they believed could or should be addressed during a regular session of the legislature.  Even Democrats took issue with Governor Lujan Grisham’s special session proposals.

Mesilla Democrat State Representative Micaela Lara Cadena said it was hard for her not to feel that the Governor’s proposals are more about “political wins.”  Cadena said this:

“I was part of tabling or not passing bills my good friend Representative (Bill) Rehm brought. We put them in the dumpster and now we’re slapping some Democrat’s names on them and plagiarizing Representative Rehm here….Folks have been trying to have these conversations for a long time now and very quickly in a short summer we have to go because New Mexico is in crisis?”

Several members of the committee expressed concern about the portion of the assisted out-patient treatment program proposal that would allow individuals who have a relationship with the individual suffering mental health problems to seek a process by which the individual could be placed into treatment involuntarily.

Albuquerque Democrat State Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, a licensed New Mexico attorney, said she was worried the mandatory mental health commitment law changes could violate an individual’s constitutional rights.

Albuquerque Democrat State Senator Katy Duhigg said she didn’t feel she had been presented with “great data that this is a solution that solves this problem and that is data I’d want to see before passing this legislation.” Duhigg said she found data from other countries with a quick online search that suggests that involuntary mental health treatment could lead to worse outcomes, rather than better ones. Duhigg asked why the state needed legislative changes in order to establish the assisted outpatient treatment program in every county. In response The Governor’s Chief General Counsel Holly Agajanian said this in response:

“I have to go back to the fact that I don’t suggest that they don’t have the authority to do it on their own. I’m suggesting, it hasn’t been done. We need to require it.”

New Mexico State Representative Christine Chandler, District 23 represents Los Alamos, Sandoval & Santa Fe counties. She chairs the House Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee. Representative Chandler said this about the Special Session:

“I wouldn’t call it optimism, I think maybe you might say people are hopeful we’ll have a productive session. …. You’ll see from our agenda that we’re definitely putting in the work. I am approaching it, and I think my colleagues are approaching it in good faith, and with a willingness to try to resolve the issues.”

Chandler asked if the legislature would be mandating that the judicial branch set up these assisted outpatient treatment programs.  Agajanian said the proposal breaks up the areas for the treatment programs based on the judicial boundaries of the state court system because those are smaller than regional boundaries and that would make it easier for an officer to take an individual suffering mental health problems to treatment rather than to jail.  Agajanian also said the court would have a memorandum of understanding with the county and either Medicaid, private insurance or indigent funds would pay for the treatment.

NO TREATMENT FACILITIES MAKES IT COMPLICATED

Chandler said the Assisted Outpatient Treatment measure expanding the program and allowing involuntary treatment for people with mental illness is by far the most complex measure.  She noted the original law took three years to pass, and now Governor Lujan Grishma is asking state lawmakers to make significant changes to the law in just a few weeks.  She noted there is also the looming issue when it comes to behavioral health treatment in New Mexico itself.

Representative Chandler said this:

“[The legislation] is aimed at providing an avenue for people who are concerned about individuals with serious mental illness. … I believe the governor is interested in maybe loosening it up a little bit, so that it will be easier to encourage them and require them to get treatment. It’s not a voluntary program, it is requiring these individuals who meet the criteria to get treatment. … The concern of many of us, me included, is that we can set up these laws, you know, we can work very hard to make the best possible law that we can. But if there aren’t the behavioral health resources and professionals to assist these people, it’s all for naught.”

Chandler said state lawmakers seems to understand the governor’s motivations to expand behavioral health resources, and they are giving it their best effort, but she’s not fully confident it’ll get done during the special session. She said this:

“I would hate to think there would be no bills, but there certainly is that possibility. …  I don’t think it will be, you know, all the time will be wasted, because I think we’ll have some good discussions that will lay the groundwork for the 60 day.”

Chandler said the committee will meet again at least twice before the special session begins.

https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/legislators-prepare-to-tackle-complex-public-safety-proposals-during-special-session/

REPUBLICAN LEADERS VOICE OPPOSITION

On Monday, June 10, three Republican House leaders sent a letter to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham criticizing her decision to make changes and strengthen behavioral health legislation in a special session calling the legislation too complex for a Special Session.

In a letter signed by House Republican Leader Rod Montoya, House Republican Whip Alan Martinez and Republican Caucus Chair Gail Armstrong they call the governor’s plan “undoable.”  The Republican leadership in the letter tell the Governor:

“Making such major changes to these highly complex systems during a two- or three-day special session is simply not good public policy and will undoubtedly result in many unintended consequences due to the lack of needed consideration and debate.”

The Republican lawmakers criticize what they describe as a lack of analysis of the cost of the proposals and “no apparent plan as to how many behavioral health service providers will be needed.”  They also questioned the need to revise existing statutes.

THE VIOLENT CRIME CRISIS IN NEW MEXICO IS REAL

There is no doubt that New Mexico is indeed in the midst of a violent crime crisis. The statistics bear this out.

According to the Rand Corp. think tank, New Mexico’s firearm ownership and fatality rates are among the nation’s highest. Over 37% of adults in the state lived in a household with a firearm which is 5% higher than the national average

On September 28, 2023, the New Mexico Department of Health released its “Comprehensive Report on Gunshot Victims Presenting at Hospitals in New Mexico.”  The report spans the time period from 1999 to 2023. The report provides a detailed analysis of firearm-related violent deaths and injuries in New Mexico. It encompasses data from various sources, including New Mexico’s surveillance systems, state behavioral risk factor surveys, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) data.

The key findings and conclusions detailed in the report are as follows:

INCREASE IN FIREARM-RELATED DEATHS

  • Over the past two decades, New Mexico’s firearm death rates rose from seventh highest nationwide in 1999 to third highest in 2021 with the age-adjusted firearm death rate increasing by 87% between 2010 and 2021.
  • While suicide remains the predominant cause of firearm-related deaths, a notable surge of 70% in the homicide rate is driving the overall increase in firearm fatalities.

DEMOGRAPHIC AND GEOGRAPHIC DISPARITIES

  • Men of all age groups were found to be at highest risk for firearm-related injuries and deaths.
  • Racial/ethnic inequities: Non-Hispanic American Indian, Non-Hispanic Blacks, and Hispanics, experienced substantial increases in firearm injury death rates between 2017 and 2021.
  • The Northeast and Metro Health Regions experienced a substantial increase in firearm injury emergency department (ED) visits over the past two years (Northeast: +30%; Metro: +22%).

INCREASED SEVERITY OF HEALTH OUTCOMES OF FIREARM INJURY

Between 2019 and 2022, there was a 16% increase of patients being admitted to intensive care and a 61% increase in patients being transferred from ED to the operating room

SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN ALCOHOL AND SUBSTANCE USE CONTRIBUTING TO INCREASED FIREARMS DEATHS

  • Between 2019 and 2020, there was an 89% increase in alcohol dependence for homicides involving firearms. Additionally, from 2018 to 2020, there was a 475% increase non-alcoholic substance dependence for homicides involving a firearm.
  • Between 2018 and 2020, there was an 85% increase in alcohol dependence and a 120% increase in non-alcoholic substance abuse for suicides involving a firearm.

LOADED AND UNLOADED FIREARMS AS  RISK FACTOR FOR FIREARM INJURY AND DEATH

  • In 2022, 37% of New Mexican households have a firearm, 15% of New Mexican households have a loaded firearm, and 8% have a loaded and unlocked firearm.
  • In 2022, households with a firearm and a child less than 18 years old, 38% have a loaded firearm and 15% have a loaded and unlocked firearm.

RISING ECONOMIC IMPACT OF FIREARM INJURY TO NEW MEXICO HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

  • The annual estimated overall cost of firearms injuries and deaths in New Mexico is $6 billion or $2818 per capita.
  • Medicaid claims for firearm injuries in New Mexico increased by 85% from $6.5 million in 2018 to $12 million in 2022 (Figure 12).
  • Between January 2023 and September 2023, Medicaid expenditures totaling $5.6 million have been spent on firearm injuries in New Mexico.
  • Medicaid was the primary payer for 76% of gun injury hospital discharges in 2022 In 2021, the Department of Health with support of the CDC, developed a Statewide Strategic Plan for the Prevention of Firearm Injury (FASTER Report FINAL (unm.edu)) which is an important supplement to this document. Demographic Data on Firearm Injury.

 HEALTHCARE OUTCOMES FOR GUNSHOT VICTIMS

Gunshot injuries have wide-ranging and severe implications on individual well-being, often necessitating immediate and extensive medical care. Delving into the healthcare outcomes for gunshot victims reveals a concerning picture:

SEVERITY OF INJURIES

  • Between 2019 and 2022, the number of patients in New Mexico’s trauma centers with firearm injuries has increased by 39%.
  • The number of trauma center patients with firearm injuries being discharged from the ED to the intensive care unit has increased by 16%
  • There has been a concerning 61% increase in gunshot injuries that required surgical interventions
  • New Mexico ranked seventh highest in the U.S. in 1999 and 2011. The rank increased to third highest in the U.S. in 2021
  • New Mexico has consistently had a larger age adjusted1 firearm death rate than the rest of the country. Moreover, the age adjusted firearm injury death rate for New Mexico has also increased at a higher rate compared to the U.S. For example, New Mexico’s firearm injury death rate was 48% higher than the U.S. in 2010, compared to being 90% higher in 2021.

TYPE OF FIREARM AND AMMUNITION INVOLVED IN FIREARM DEATHS

The following data was pulled from pooled data in the New Mexico National Violent Death Reporting System (NM VDRS) from 2018 to 2020:

TYPE OF FIREARM IN DEATHS

  • Handguns were implicated in 77% of violent firearm-related deaths (Figure 6).
  • Rifles and shotguns were involved in 7% and 6% of such incidents,

COMMON FIREARM MANUFACTURERS IN DEATHS

  • An unknown manufacturer was noted in 61% of cases of the New Mexico National Violent Death Reporting System (NM VDRS) pooled data from 2018 to 2020.
  • Smith & Wesson firearms were linked to 8% of violent deaths, followed by Ruger (6%), Glocks (5%), and Taurus (4%).

AMMUNITION CALIBERS IN VIOLENT DEATHS

  • The 9-millimeter (mm) caliber was the most prevalent, associated with 25% of violent firearm deaths. PAGE 7
  • Other notable calibers included .38 (10%), .22 (9%), .45 (8%), and .40 (7%)

NUMBER OF VIOLENT CRIMES IN NEW MEXICO

According to FBI statistics, the number of violent crimes in New Mexico for the last 11 years has been reported as follows:

  •  2012: 11,660
  • 2013: 12,990
  • 2014: 12,465
  • 2015: 13,672
  • 2016: 14,585
  • 2017: 16,300
  • 2018: 17,637
  • 2019: 17,302
  • 2020: 16,393
  • 2021: 17,373
  • 2022: 16,494

According to data released by the New Mexico Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2010 to 2021, the age-adjusted death rate from firearms rose by 87%. In the same time span, New Mexico rose from the 7th to the 3rd highest rate of firearm deaths in the country.

Overall, there was a 34% increase in overall firearm fatalities from 2018 to 2021, with a 70% increase in homicides with a firearm in the same time period.

Not only has death from firearms in New Mexico increased, but so have injuries related to firearms. From 2018 to 2022, the rate of people visiting the emergency room from firearm related injuries rose 35%.

According to the latest stats from the FBI, there were 11,550 instances of shoplifting In New Mexico. It’s a trend that’s been increasing since 2018.

JUVENILE CRIME

Crime within the juvenile population has been the subject of recent news reports where  it is being said crime among the juvenile population is rising. However, the data that is available doesn’t paint a clear picture one way or another. From 2018 through 2022, there was a steady DECLINE in the number of children referred to juvenile justice services. 80% of those each year were delinquent referrals, meaning it was a crime committed under the law if committed by an adult.

While the trend of juvenile referrals has fallen, so have the number of referrals for detention.  In 2018, there were 3,012 children referred for detention. That number fell to 1,185 in 2022. But that doesn’t paint the whole picture. While the total number of referrals has fallen, the percentage of referrals approved for detention has risen.

Despite the downward trend of juvenile justice referrals, crime amongst juveniles was a focus of the governor following the issuance of the public health order in 2023. Since Sept. 2023, 160 juveniles have been detained where a gun was present. Each month since the governor’s directed focus on juvenile crime, the number of juveniles detained has fallen.

https://www.koat.com/article/new-mexico-crime-stats-town-hall/60513537

FIREARM INJURY – EMERGENCY ROOM VISITS

Emergency room firearms injuries are on the uptick in New Mexico  and are reported as follows for 5 years of available data:

  • 2018: 968
  • 2019: 914
  • 2020: 1,129
  • 2021: 1,263
  • 2022: 1,306

 https://www.koat.com/article/new-mexico-crime-stats-town-hall/60513537

Following the death of a child near Isotopes Park in 2023, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a public health order that was aimed to reduce gun violence. Data released by governors office from September 2023 – March 2024:

  • TOTAL ARRESTS: 7,649

FELONY ARRESTS: 4,701 (61.46%)

MISDEMEANOR ARRESTS/ WARRANTS:  2,948 (38.54%)

  • FIREARMS SEIZED: 614
  • TRAFFIC CITATIONS: 9,669

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

It is extremely disappointing that since April 17 when Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham called for a special session, and with just 10 days before the July 18 Special Session, that the Governor and the New Mexico legislature leadership have failed to come to any consensus whatsoever on substantive public safety legislation for quick enactment by the legislature on July 18. The failure is a reflection of failed leadership.  The Governor’s proposed changes to the state’s mental health laws have some merit. However, to be perfectly blunt, the measures fall very short on actually accomplishing much when it comes to public safety given the fact the state is seriously deficient when it comes to mental health care facilities and mental health professionals and her mental health care proposals contain nothing with respect to funding.

WITHDRAW OTHER 3 MEASURES ON SPECIAL SESSION AGENDA

There are 3 other measures that the Governor wants the Specials Session to enact apart from the mental health proposals.  All three of those measures are leftovers from the 2024 legislative session.  The 3 additional measures proposed by the Governor are ones that cannot be consider as a having a real sense of urgency and for that reason alone  she should withdraw those measures.  All 3 should be handled in the regular session for the following reasons:

The bill that would strengthen penalties for a felon convicted of possessing a firearm, making the crime a second-degree felony, punishable by a minimum of nine years in prison is one that standing alone will not make that much of a difference.  During the Governors tenure, the legislature has in fact increased felony criminal penalties  upwards of 6 times.

The bill to prohibit pedestrians from occupying highway medians, on-ramps and exit ramps is directed at the unhoused and panhandling in general and  is an exercise in futility. Such laws are difficult to enforce and law enforcement needs to concentrate on far more serious crime. Albuquerque has enacted such an ordinance, as has other communities, and it goes unenforced as panhandlers and the unhoused continue to occupy medians and on ramps and as the ACLU is successfully challenge  the laws in court as being unconstitutional.

The bill that would require law enforcement agencies to report certain monthly crime incident reports and ballistic information could likely be accomplished by executive orders and does not necessarily need legislation. Better cooperation between law enforcement is what is needed.

OMNIBUS GUN CONTROL AND VIOLENT CRIME SENTENCING ACT

Without any consensus on any legislation, the July 18 Special Session will be a waste of time and taxpayer funding and for that matter somewhat of an embarrassment for both the Governor and the New Mexico Legislature. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham should concede to reality that the legislature is not at all interested in cooperating with her and cancel the July 18 Special Session.

If Governor Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Legislature are truly concerned about the New Mexico’s violent crime crisis, both need to regroup and take and even more aggressive approach as they prepare for the 2025 New Mexico legislative session. They should take the next 6 months and work on building a consensus on the enactment of “Omnibus Violent Crime Sentencing And Gun Control Act.”

The message that must be sent out loud and clear by our elected officials to violent criminals is that New Mexico has a zero tolerance of violent crimes committed with firearms and the only way to do that is with enhanced sentencings. Also, the availability and proliferation of guns must be recognized as a big part of the states violent crime problem.

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT MEASURES

The following crime and sentencing provisions should be included in the “Omnibus Gun Control And Violent Crime Sentencing  Act”:

As was originally proposed for the Special Session, strengthen penalties for a felon convicted of possessing a firearm, making the crime a second-degree felony, punishable by a minimum of nine years in prison.

As was originally proposed for the Special Session, enact the changes proposed to the mental health commitment process, but include funding for mental health facilities and  services.

Allow firearm offenses used in a drug crimes to be charged separately with enhance sentences.

Making possession of a handgun by someone who commits a crime of drug trafficking an aggravated third-degree felony mandating a 10-year minimum sentence.

Increase the firearm enhancement penalties provided for the brandishing a firearm in the commission of a felony from 3 years to 10 years for a first offense and for a second or subsequent felony in which a firearm is brandished 12 years.

Create a new category of enhanced sentencing for use of a lethal weapon or deadly weapon other than a firearm where there is brandishing  of a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony with enhanced sentences of 5 years for a first offense and for second or subsequent felony in which a lethal weapon other than a firearm is brandished 8 years

Increase the penalty of shooting randomly into a crowded area a second-degree felony mandating a 9-year sentence.

Increase the penalty and mandatory sentencing for the conviction of the use of a fire arm during a road rage incident to a first-degree felony mandating a life sentence.

Update the Children’s Code to deal with charges, increasing penalties and prosecutions of minors as adults as consequences of children using firearms in the commission of violent crimes and aggravated assaults with use of deadly weapon.

Change bail bond to statutorily empower judges with far more discretionary authority to hold and jail those pending trial who have prior violent crime reported incidents without shifting the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense.

GUN CONTROL MEASURES

Gun control measures that should be included the “Omnibus Gun Control And  Violent Crime Sentencing  Act” would include the the legislation that failed in the 2023 legislative session including an assault weapons ban lawfully regulating the manufacture, possession and sale of weapons of war, most often the gun used in mass casualty events and  prohibiting guns in parks and playgrounds making  it illegal to carry a firearm in county or municipal parks, playgrounds, and their accompanying parking lots.

Call for the repeal the New Mexico Constitutional provision that allows the “open carry” of firearms. This would require a public vote and no doubt generate heated discussion given New Mexico’s high percentage of gun ownership for hunting, sport or hobby, but what is the real rational for allowing side arms and rifles to be carried down the street other than to intimidate others?

Restrict the sale, manufacture and possession of AR-15-style rifles along with semiautomatic firearms and make it a second-degree felony to purchase, possess, manufacture, import, sell or transfer assault weapons in the state.

Prohibited magazines with more than 10 rounds.

Prohibited the possession of semiautomatic firearm converter that allows the weapon to fire more rapidly.

Expand the  14-day waiting period for the purchase of any firearm and requiring  a prospective seller who doesn’t already hold a valid federal firearms license to arrange for someone who does to conduct a federal background check prior to selling a firearm.

Established a minimum age of 21 for anyone seeking to purchase or possess an automatic firearm, semiautomatic firearm or firearm capable of accepting a large-capacity magazine.

Ban the manufacture, sale, trade, gift, transfer or acquisition of semiautomatic pistols that have two or more defined characteristics.

Revised the state’s Unfair Practices Act to target the sale of illegal firearms and parts, allowing the filing of lawsuits to enforce the act.

Prohibit in New Mexico the sale of “ghost guns” parts. Ghost guns are guns that are manufactured and sold in parts without any serial numbers to be assembled by the purchaser and that can be sold to anyone.

Require in New Mexico the mandatory purchase of “liability insurance” with each gun sold as is required for all operable vehicles bought and driven in New Mexico.

Mandate the school systems and higher education institutions “harden” their facilities with more security doors, security windows, and security measures and alarm systems and security cameras tied directly to law enforcement 911 emergency operations centers.

The Omnibus Gun Control And Violent Crime Sentencing  Act Omnibus Gun Violence And Sentencing  Act  must include funding for the criminal justice system. This would include funding District Attorney’s Offices, the Public Defender’s Office, the Courts and the Corrections Department and law enforcement departments across New Mexico.

CONCLUSION

Until the Governor and the New Mexico legislature get serious about New Mexico’s gun violence crisis and enact reasonable gun control measures in conjunction with crime and punishment measures, we can expect our violent crime rates to continue to increase and calling Special Sessions a waste of time.