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NM Court of Appeals: Farrell case could be dismissed

Updated: 08/25/2014 6:21 PM | Created: 08/25/2014 6:19 PM
By: Blair Miller, KOB.com

A New Mexico Court of Appeals proposed charges be dismissed, citing a breakdown in legal procedure, against Oriana Farrell, the Tennessee woman accused of fleeing from, and being shot at by state police officers during a traffic stop near Taos in October 2013.

Farrell was indicted by a grand jury on aggravated fleeing, child abuse and narcotic paraphernalia charges, but a relative of one of the officers involved in the shooting served on the grand jury.

The Court of Appeals judge, Jonathan B. Sutin, wrote in the August 21 decision that an assistant district attorney who dismissed the relative from the grand jury did not have the authority to do so, even if there was a good reason.

"Our Supreme Court has recently held that the district attorney’s office should play no role in excusing a grand juror, even for good cause shown,” Sutin wrote.

He added that a grand juror's request to be excused from a proceeding should be "directed toward and ruled upon by the district court, rather than the assistant district attorney."

 Farrell's lawyers took objection with the assistant district attorney's decision, and appealed to the Court of Appeals for a ruling.

Sutin's ruling, which could end up with the case being dismissed altogether, gives a 20-day response period, from August 21, for prosecutors to give a response, or try to indict Farrell again through another grand jury.


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