District attorney responds to LFC report on rebuttable presumption

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Last week, the Legislative Finance Committee released their analysis on why rebuttable presumption changes would not improve Albuquerque’s crime crisis.

The chart included in the report shows that conviction rates inside District Attorney Raúl Torrez’s office have fallen since 2011 to 59% in 2020. The report states, Torrez’s conviction rates "puts his prosecutorial performance below the national benchmark."

The report aligned with the public defender’s argument against the rebuttable presumption bill, House Bill 5.

"Find solutions that are based on evidence not just upon the trend of the moment or kind of panicking in response to these problems, said Bennett Baur, the chief public defender.

This week, Torrez released a memo of his own, accusing the authors of the Legislative Finance Committee of using third-party, erroneous data.

"It’s inaccurate is the bottom line," Torrez said. "The truth is we convict nearly 83% of defendants charged with felonies in our jurisdiction."

Torrez believes the LFC’s memo casts Albuquerque’s crime problem, in part, on police and prosecutors. His memo stated, "The criticism of the police and prosecutors is based on misinformation that is the product of incomplete data."

"For the past seven years, police and prosecutors have repeatedly warned policymakers in Santa Fe and policymakers in the judiciary not to engage in specific changes to the system that we thought would be detrimental to public policy and public safety," Torrez said. "We urged them not to create a revolving door for criminals and that was ignored. What police and prosecutors have a problem with is they are now the scapegoat."

HB 5 is currently stalled in a House committee, but it’s very possible it can get called back up and voted on as early as Friday. If passed, it would move to its next House committee.

Track HB 5 during the legislative session.