Legal expert explains potential implications of Solomon Peña case

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.– It’s been a week since a former Republican political candidate, Solomon Peña, was taken into custody. Police say Peña planned and carried out violence against New Mexico state lawmakers.

On Monday he’s set to go before a judge to find out whether he’ll be in jail before his trial.

Solomon Peña has been a name in headlines around the country. He’s accused of setting up plots to shoot up the homes of local elected democratic officials. 

A criminal defense attorney we spoke to says this case could spark national change. 

“This is not a new issue, right?” said Jenn Burrill, president-elect of the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.

Burrill is talking about violence against lawmakers. The case against Peña is just the latest example. 

According to Albuquerque police, he’s behind the recent string of shootings at local politicians’ homes. 

Burril says this case may have a ripple effect nationally.

“Ok well the public record says she owns it do you know where she lives?” 

Changing the way we can find public officials’ information. 

“So I would anticipate that this may have some federal implications in terms of legislation,” said Burrill. 

Pena will be before a judge tomorrow to find out if he’ll stay behind bars. If his case goes to trial, Burrill says it may not happen in the metro area.

“I think you’ll probably see a motion to change venue, which means that they would move the trial to another area. You know, Albuquerque is the media center of the state,” Burrill said. 

And since this case stems from seemingly deep political divide, that makes it even more complicated. 

“That’s actually a standard question on the on the jury questionnaire form that people fill out. Some people answer it, some people don’t. But you can imagine that that’s going to carry a lot of weight, especially with his links to the former president, President Trump,” said Burrill. 

So finding a jury would a challenge as well.

“So I would anticipate that the jury selection in this case for Mr. Peña will be extensive. Sometimes, you know, courts can limit you know, your questions to 15 minutes. I don’t see that happening here, because there are so many issues. So I would anticipate in this case, too, we’re looking at a week or two weeks for jury,” said Burrill.