ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The state Attorney General’s Office is worried that a Bernalillo County judge’s recent order puts it in the possibly illegal position of having to duplicate child pornography.
Prosecutors with the AG’s Office raised their concern in a request Wednesday asking the Supreme Court to step in after a Bernalillo County judge ordered them to provide copies of the images, which are evidence in a child porn case, to the suspect’s defense team. But the Supreme Court on Thursday denied their request.
“We are disappointed with the decision which requires the manufacture and distribution of these images outside of a secure environment,” AG’s Office spokesman James Hallinan said in a statement.
The AG’S Office, which is handling the case against Bobby Murphy, said Second Judicial District Judge Briana Zamora’s order left them with an “untenable dilemma,” either copy the images “possibly in violation of state and federal law,” or face monetary sanctions. Murphy, 36, is charged with possession and attempted distribution of child pornography, according to court documents.
Prosecutors say they had agreed to allow the defendant, his attorney and an expert witness to examine the images at their office. They said that the expert could bring his own software and computer, and he would be allowed to take with him the results of any testing, but that any exploitative images would be wiped clean before he left the office. They said these steps were necessary to make sure images would not accidentally fall into the wrong hands.
“Like dangerous drugs and murder weapons, horrific images of child sexual abuse should only be analyzed in a secure law enforcement laboratory,” Hallinan said.
He said the AG’s Office would continue to seek guidance on the issue from the courts and the state legislature.
Zamora said her decision instructing prosecutors to provide the material to the defense was based on the fact that a defense expert might have trouble using the AG’s computer to conduct necessary testing, according to the AG’s request.
Murphy’s attorney, Raymond Maestas, said in a statement, “in our state, all people accused of criminal allegations, have the constitutional right to prepare and present a defense — no matter the allegations.”
“Defense attorneys and those persons who work with them are professional, trustworthy, and honorable,” Maestas wrote. “They defend people, no matter the allegations. Any attempt by the prosecution to suggest otherwise is wrong. We take the same oath and have the same license as the prosecutors.”