State Supreme Court is working to deliver swift justice - Albuquerque Journal

State Supreme Court is working to deliver swift justice

Phil Snedeker

A Sunday Journal editorial, “Crime’s unrelenting hold,” on Sept. 25 summarizes the frustrations all in our community share. Those who have spent entire careers in the criminal justice system are as frustrated and concerned as anyone. Communities are being torn apart by this violence. Families are losing their children to debilitating drug use.

As noted, this is a complex issue requiring a true team effort. There are countless dedicated law enforcement professionals working diligently, risking their lives, to make our streets safe. People in our criminal justice system, from probation officers to district attorneys, public

Kari Brandenburg

defenders, court professionals and judges who make difficult decisions, work on these critical issues daily.

The editorial argues the courts need to streamline the judicial process, better ensuring swift justice. With that in mind, the New Mexico Supreme Court has been diligent in working toward updating processes and efficiencies in the pursuit of swift justice.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court instituted many procedures that vastly improved the way criminal cases are managed. These changes were implemented to make sure police can get back on the streets and prosecutors can focus on violent defendants. The procedures also allow our over-strained courts to move more efficiently so the system can focus its time and resources on the most problematic and dangerous offenders.

The Supreme Court’s changes were instituted to eliminate the need for law enforcement officers, crime victims and witnesses to make multiple appearances in court proceedings. This keeps our police on the streets and prevents the re-victimization of crime victims by avoiding multiple court appearances and lost time from their workplaces and with family.

The Supreme Court eliminated pretrial interview requirements in misdemeanor cases. Police can stay on the streets keeping our communities safe, rather than spending time in interviews. District Courts can hold settlement conferences in criminal cases to facilitate plea negotiations and ensure parties exchange evidence in a timely manner. Status conferences are required early in criminal proceedings for defendants who are not in jail, to help resolve cases quickly and eliminate the need for witnesses, law enforcement and victims to appear at hearings.

Traffic violation cases are now conducted virtually, so that everyone – especially officers – can avoid “wasting” time in a courtroom.

All these changes were made with input from law enforcement, judges and justice partners, prosecutors and public defenders. Swift justice – as the Journal Editorial Board termed it in its editorial – is the goal, while ensuring the constitutional rights of all New Mexicans are protected so the innocent are cleared while the guilty are punished.

We must continue to do more. But it is critical for Journal readers to know the Supreme Court and its many partners working in our criminal justice system have stepped up to the plate. These types of changes don’t get headlines, but they are important and make a difference in our criminal justice system.

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