A statement that we are 'at war' with APD is false and diminishes our daily efforts and contact with them - DA Kari Brandenburg
Calls ABQ Free Press Column Erroneous
To the Editor:
Dan Klein’s recent column, “DA’s Legacy of Failure,” is rampant with errors and misinformation.
The evidence room scandal at APD occurred in 2004 and 2005, years after I took office. Contrary to Klein’s assertion that nothing was done about the scandal, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office was called in to aid in the investigation. They have the capacity to initiate and investigate their own cases, unlike the DA’s Office. We deferred to them, as we often do in our longstanding and ongoing partnership with them.
I have always tried to maintain a good working relationship with all the agencies we depend on and interact with. This was true when Chief Schultz was with APD. However, any allegation our relationship was “too close” is fiction. I don’t believe I ever met with Chief Schultz outside a meeting including many other persons, nor did I ever have lunch with him. The lines of communication were open, as they needed to be, but it was common for weeks to pass, possibly months, when communication with the Chief wasn’t necessary and we interacted with others at APD. I absolutely deny there was ever any informal agreement not to criticize each other’s agency. The record of our disagreements negate this falsehood.
Criminal cases have been dismissed in record numbers since the inception of LR2-400, which became effective on February 2, 2015. The New Mexico Supreme Court imposed the rule in Bernalillo County as an attempt to fast track criminal cases. There were meetings, involving all the affected parties, for 18 months prior to its imposition. Unfortunately, APD did not attend most of the meetings and thus was unaware of its impact on our criminal justice system. The rule mandates all discovery must be turned over to the defense counsel at arraignment. Discovery includes police reports, lapel cameras, CAD reports, witness statements and numerous other items. The DA’s Office does not create, nor have control over discovery until it is handed over to us.
Since LR2-400 came into effect, and even before, we have been involved in training APD as to the requirements and implications of the rule and have been meeting with them on a frequent and regular basis to help them expedite the discovery process. In-house, we have implemented numerous systems and check lists to track discovery, letting law enforcement agencies know what we need and the timelines.
A statement that we are “at war” with APD is false and diminishes our daily efforts and contact with them. In many ways, I believe we are working better than ever with the men and women of the agency.
To place APD’s trouble at the feet of the DA is absurd and disingenuous. This is an agency that, over the past two years, is in compliance with a mere 5 percent of the settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, which has oversight authority and jurisdiction. The DA’s Office does not have the authority or the jurisdiction to dictate the policies and day-to-day business of APD.
I have heard it said that one can’t let the facts get in the way of a good story, but Dan, you are in orbit. Earth to Dan, earth to Dan…!
– Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg