New Bernalillo County DA outlines plans for upcoming legislative session
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Sam Bregman is now the top prosecutor in a metro plagued with crime that runs the gamut.
This comes after he has stood on the other side of the judicial system for decades as a high profile defense attorney. It may be a big change for the metro, but people may not realize, his failure or success could have statewide implications.
“I think the rubber meets the road in Albuquerque and the DA’s office here and law enforcement and crime. It goes everywhere else after that so being strong here is super important,” said New Mexico State Police Chief Tim Johnson. “When Albuquerque goes the rest of the state goes, both positive and negative.”
So what are Bregman’s plans to bring more criminals to justice and make the city, and therefore the state a safe place that we all call home?
We are now just weeks away from the upcoming 60-day legislative session, and Bregman has a few priorities on the table. First, he says it’s important to come up with a crime package that not only makes sense, but will also actually pass.
He also touched on the city’s retail crime problem.
Bregman says he plans to have many conversations with APD and other leaders before the session to find out where they see gaps in the system and how best to fill them.
“We want to do something, but we need to get it passed to get something done. So that’s important,” said Bregman.
FROM OPPONENT TO TEAMMATE
For years, Bregman was benefitting from the very rules he’ll now fight against. He’d been standing on the other side of the courtroom as a high-profile defense attorney. He was battling the very people and agencies he’ll now work with.
Despite that he was very recently an opponent, leadership in the metro, including in law enforcement, are enthusiastic about him becoming a teammate.
“We’re just very happy that he’s bringing his passion and tenacity back to the other side of the table. So we look forward to working with you,” said Sonya Chavez, U.S. Marshal for the district of New Mexico.
Bregman was a prosecutor in the 1990s, but people may know of him because of the cases he’s taken since then.
He represented former APD Officer Keith Sandy, who was charged with murder following the shooting of homeless camper James Boyd in 2014.
He also represented former Torrance County Sheriff and magistrate judge Heath White, who was accused of embezzling taxpayer money.
Bregman was about to go to trial representing the family of late State Police Officer Darian Jarrott in a wrongful death lawsuit.
“I decided it’s time for me not to sit back and watch but to actually try and help,” Bregman said. “This may be the biggest job I’ve had yet when it comes to importance because I know what’s at stake here when it comes to this community. I feel like I’m walking onto one hell of a team.”
UNITING YOUR OFFICE
Besides the leaders working alongside Bregman, prosecutors and other staff members will have to get used to a new chief.
Bregman touched on how he will unify the office, and says it started on day one.
He plans to ask Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for more money in the budget to give them pay raises, and recruit new prosecutors to fill the office’s current shortage.
He also addressed the letters dozens of attorneys signed and sent to the governor, asking her to appoint one of the three current deputy prosecutors to the position.
“They’re great lawyers,” said Bregman. “While they may be disappointed, after my conversations with them, they are more emphatic about this community and doing good things. I think we’re going to be great.”
2 YEAR LIMIT
Bregman has already decided not to run in the next election for district attorney, saying he’ll do this for two years and call it quits.
KOB 4 asked him why he would take the job if he knows he’ll want to leave, and Bregman said he wants to stay out of the politics of the job, and he’s motivated to put criminals behind bars.
“I believe that it is going to be so liberating as a district attorney that’s going to be there for two years, to be able make decisions never ever worried or even – not that anybody has – never ever let it get into your head a political consideration, but instead, just do what’s best for this community,” he said. “I can’t wait to help and getting these – these SOBs – that are out there committing crime, getting them arrested, locked up and brought before a judge and doing justice, because this community is suffering and enough is enough.”
CRIME VICTIMS CONCERNS
The only concerns about Bregman so far have come from families of violent crime victims, worried about his ability to support and work with them.
“What I don’t understand is how you put a defense attorney in that position who only is going to take it for two years, what is he going to do for the victim’s families? He’s used to working for the criminals and getting them off,” said one mom from the New Mexico Crusaders for justice group.
Bregman asked that they give him a chance, but also look at some of his professional history.
He’s known as the founding father of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner’s Program, or SANE, that gives special training to nurses to allow them to treat sexual assault victims. He also created a hate crimes ordinance during his time as an Albuquerque city councilor.
“I’ve helped people that have been hurt through no fault of their own I’ve done my whole life doing that,” said Bregman. “I’m as proud as can be of the work I’ve done standing up for people who were hurt that should never have been hurt. Standing up for victims of crime and I will continue to do that.”