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Judge warned high court in April new detention rules were 'absurd'

Caleb James
August 22, 2017 11:51 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- In an April letter, Albuquerque judges pleaded with the New Mexico Supreme Court not to approve pretrial detention rules. Those rules have since been approved.

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The strongly-worded letter signed by then-Chief Metro Court Judge Henry Alaniz warned the guidelines will tie judges hands and "regularly lead to absurd results." It is a significant behind-the-scenes glimpse as New Mexico's high court pushed for bail reform months ago. Alaniz was adamantly opposed to the new rules.

Two weeks ago, New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Charlie Daniels sat alongside Bernalillo County District Court Chief Judge Nan Nash. Both told KOB's Danielle Todesco the new rules implemented July 1 would only benefit New Mexicans by giving judges more power to withhold bond for dangerous suspects -- all but requiring release of suspects they don't think will run away.

While the Supreme Court asked for public input on the proposed changes, Alaniz in April slammed the proposal. n a letter obtained by KOB, he argued it would "regularly lead to absurd results."

Alaniz wrote, "The defendant may have a long history of cases with the same alleged victim, and may be a safety risk to that alleged victim. But if the defendant comes to court and there is no risk of flight, the court cannot impose a secured bond."

In a real-world example, Alaniz wrote, "One judge saw a defendant at an arraignment this week charged with 12 cases in 2016 and approximately seven cases in 2017, with multiple failures to appear. However, the designee now may be required to release those defendants immediately upon arrest."

Click here to read the letter in full.

Messages left for Daniels were not returned.

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Caleb James

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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