COUNTY ASKS SUPREME COURT TO REVIEW GRAND JURY PROCESS, PROCEDURES

COUNTY ASKS SUPREME COURT TO REVIEW GRAND JURY PROCESS, PROCEDURES

At the close of a grand jury investigation into operational procedures at the Doña Ana County Detention Center, with which the county cooperated fully, the New Mexico Supreme Court is being asked to review the legality of the investigation and the manner in which it was initiated and carried out.
Citing conflicts of interest on the part of the district attorney, improper behavior on the part of the judge who impaneled the grand jury and a misapplication of the law under which grand juries are allowed to be impaneled, the county has asked the Supreme Court to issue a ruling that would clarify the process and prevent the politicization of any future grand jury probes.
Although the grand jury probe is completed, the county believes a ruling by the Supreme Court will clarify the proper process and reduce costs borne by the taxpayers associated with any future probes, as well as clarify the process by which county employees are called for depositions in other investigatory matters. As an example, the county cited the district attorney’s office having subpoenaed nine employees of the Doña Ana County Detention Center to testify at an August 4 trial. The subpoenas require all nine employees to be available in the courtroom from 8:15 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. on the day in question, despite the fact that the grand jury impaneled at the district attorney’s request identified staffing shortages as one major issue facing the detention center.
The county contends in its filing that the district attorney’s office and the courts should take a more reasonable and cooperative approach in scheduling such testimony. In its filing, the county also suggests that grand jury and other criminal proceedings should always be conducted with reasonable consideration of the operational needs of other governmental entities and agencies.