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NM Supreme Court clarifies pretrial detention

Inmates are moved through a corridor at the Metropolitan Detention Center in this 2014 file photo. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

The state Supreme Court in two rulings Thursday tried to clarify the authority of state district judges in holding felony defendants in pretrial detention.

That issue has become increasingly volatile since passage of the amendment to the state Constitution in 2016 that reduced the courts’ reliance on monetary bail and allowed judges to consider pretrial detention for all crimes.

In one case, the court ruled that defendants charged with a capital crime do not have a right to pretrial release and that a defendant’s failure to obey previous court orders while on pretrial release can justify pretrial detention.

A second written opinion handed down Thursday reiterated the court’s oral ruling that prosecutors can present evidence without calling witnesses in pretrial detention hearings, among other directions on how to determine if someone should be put in jail pending trial.

In a third ruling issued in late December, the court ruled that a defendant can be detained based on the gruesome nature of the crimes charged.

The Supreme Court rules for implementing the constitutional amendment have come under fire from Gov. Susana Martinez, legislators and the bail bond industry.

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