Bregman plans to prosecute cases himself - Albuquerque Journal

Bregman plans to prosecute cases himself

Sam Bregman, right, discusses his plans as 2nd Judicial District Attorney on Wednesday. Beside him, from left, are Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen, APD Chief Harold Medina and former DA Raúl Torrez. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2023 Albuquerque Journal

Sam Bregman said he wants to lead the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office from behind the prosecutor’s table.

“I love the courtroom – absolutely love the courtroom,” Bregman said at a news conference Wednesday, a day after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham tapped him to succeed former DA Raúl Torrez, who was sworn in Sunday as the state’s attorney general.

Bregman said he plans to prosecute cases himself, breaking with the traditional role of DAs serving primarily as administrators.

“That’s one of the attractions of this wonderful job is to be able to go in and work with great prosecutors, and prosecuting cases,” he said. “I can’t wait to do that. I feel like I’m pretty good at it and I’m going to keep doing it.”

Bregman was sworn in as DA on Tuesday just hours after Lujan Grisham announced she had chosen him from among 14 attorneys who applied for the job. In his first news conference, he was joined by Torrez, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and a cadre of state and local law enforcement leaders.

In his decades of private practice, Bregman has litigated lawsuits that allege wrongdoing and negligence by officers of law enforcement agencies, including those in Bernalillo County. Bregman said his history will not interfere with his ability as DA to work with those agencies.

“All these people up here are total professionals,” Bregman said, referring to the law enforcement leaders beside him. “They understand the civil justice system and the criminal justice system as well as anybody. I can’t wait to start working with all of them.”

Bregman also said he is prohibited from practicing law in private practice while serving as DA. He is in the process of finding other lawyers to handle cases litigated by his firm. “So there is no conflict,” he said.

A total of 22 officer-involved shootings occurred in Bernalillo County in 2022, of which 14 resulted in deaths. Under Torrez, those cases typically were referred to special prosecutors.

Bregman said he plans to review the process for handling officer-involved shootings, “but I haven’t come to the conclusion that there needs to be a drastic change.”

Bregman confirmed that he plans to step down as DA after serving the remaining two years of Torrez’s term, and doesn’t intend to run for election to the office.

Priorities under Bregman’s tenure will include filling vacancies and raising pay for prosecutors and staff and “supporting this office, supporting the men and women, the prosecutors, the lawyers, the support staff, in every way possible to get them whatever resources they need.”

Another priority will be clearing a backlog of unserved arrest warrants, which he estimated at 5,000 over the past year, “and get the people who have absolutely no respect for the rule of law.”

Bregman said he was motivated to seek the office by a desire to serve the community.

“I took this job because I love Albuquerque,” he said. “We all know that Albuquerque and Bernalillo County has a crime problem. But I decided it’s time for me, not to sit back and watch, but to actually try and help. And that’s why I’m doing this.”

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