I was delighted to see that the District Court strongly disputes Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez’s assertion that the Court and its Case Management Order (CMO) are to blame for Albuquerque’s rising crime rates and a backlog of thousands of cases.
(June 30, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, page A-1 “Judges: Courts not to blame for rise in crime; District judges ‘strongly dispute’ DA’ criticism.)
The District Court has now called Torrez’s bluff and announced that the court will allow additional blocks of time for preliminary hearings.
The District Court has told Torrez that beginning in July, preliminary hearings will be scheduled to deal specifically with cases dismissed by the court “because of the District Attorney office’s failure to comply” with the case management order deadlines.
Presiding District Court Judges Nan Nash and District Judge Charles Brown said in a letter to Torrez “You have told us and the public that you are ready to get these cases refiled and moving … [so] Let’s get moving together to accomplish this goal.”
Torrez’s response was more preliminary hearing won’t solve the problem and the “The solution is to dismiss fewer cases for reasons that would not be granted in other counties in the state”.
Torrez’s response was lame and basically an admission that his office cannot be ready for court on cases his office has filed and so he wants more time to prepare for court and wants to keep defendants in jail longer pending trial, which is what caused the necessity of the case management order in the first place.
The Case Management Order (CMO) was issued by the New Mexico Supreme Court in February 2015 to eliminate the unacceptable backlog of criminal trials and sets deadlines for criminal prosecutions to ensure speedier trials for defendants and to deal with an overcrowded jail system.
The CMO complies with well-established rules of criminal procedure and by all accounts it is working and jail overcrowding is under control.
The CMO was necessitated by the fact that so many defendants were awaiting arraignments or trials and being held in the Bernalillo County Detention Center for months, and at times years, to the point that the jail was becoming severely overcrowded exceeding its capacity of approximately 2,200 inmates.
There should be no surprise with Torrez blaming the District Courts for the rising crime rates.
When Torrez ran for District Attorney he figuratively rode into town on his white horse saying our criminal justice system in Albuquerque is in dire need of change and he was the guy to get it done.
Torres blaming the Case Management Order (CMO) for the increase in crime rates is “political gamesmanship” of the highest order and an obvious effort to avoid being held accountable in the future for his office’s failure in dealing with our soaring crime rates.
Over the last few months since taking office, Torrez has made a big publicity splash and a name for himself on the front pages of the Albuquerque Journal as well as the TV news stations with his criticism of the court’s and our criminal justice system.
In political circles, Torrez is what you call the news media hound or someone always looking for an angle do get into the news and leaking tips to the media.
Going after and complaining about elected judges for their rulings is a red flag of “political pandering”.
The most disturbing part of Raul Torrez’s criticism of the Court’s is that he knows better, he has taken an oath of office to uphold our constitution and he ignores our constitutional rights of due process of law and the presumption of innocence.
Attacking our Judicial system and judge’s rulings is a familiar tactic of President Donald Trump and it is done to “gin up” anger and resentment for the sake of publicity.
All judge’s take an oath of office to preserve, defend and protect our constitution.
Judges are strictly prohibited by the Supreme Court Rules and the Code of Judicial Conduct from commenting on pending cases and voicing opinions that call into question their fairness and impartiality, especially in criminal cases.
Judges are prohibited from defending their decisions and sentencing in a public forum outside of their courtroom so criticizing judges is like “shooting fish” in a barrel.
Raul Torrez acts like he is still running for District Attorney or some other higher office.
It is so easy to ignore our U. S. Constitution when you are pandering and running office and essentially say “catch them and lock them up and throw away the key”.
Torrez has learned in six months in office how to lay the blame on others about our rising crime rate, including the courts, that has gotten so old over the last few years.
Sooner or later, Torrez is going to learn that blaming others with front page stories and television reports are no substitute for making tough decisions to run an office and doing a good job, unless you are afraid and want to avoid being held responsible and are harboring higher political ambitions.