ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Bernalillo County District Court judges have once again put the brakes on “investigative grand juries” used only in officer-involved shootings, citing the appearance that prosecutors are not impartial and noting the lack of legal authority authorizing the unique presentations.
In a letter to District Attorney Kari Brandenburg dated Thursday, Chief Judge Ted Baca, presiding criminal Judge Charles Brown and grand jury Judge Stan Whitaker ordered the use of grand juries for the unique police shooting presentations to remain suspended until further notice.
The judges pointed out that Brandenburg’s office presents the cases to the grand jury only after determining there was no probable cause to pursue criminal charges against an officer.
“You assert, under these circumstances, that the presentation to the grand jury is fair, balanced, and impartial,” the judges wrote. “Assuming that to be true, we, nonetheless, believe that the appearance of a lack of impartiality is impossible to avoid, especially given that the procedure is used only for police officers and specifically limited to officer-involved shootings.”