ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For all the confusion and different interpretations of State v. Brown, the Supreme Court’s ruling was simply to tell judges to follow the court’s rule on determining bond.
The court made its ruling in a case in which 19-year-old Walter Brown was charged with felony murder and was in pretrial custody for three years because he couldn’t pay the $250,000 cash-only bond.
The court found that now-retired District Judge Kenneth Martinez denied any other type of release for Brown because of the nature of the charges and failed to examine other factors, including ties to the community, past criminal history and whether Brown was a flight risk.
The opinion said judges ignored the state Constitution and past court rulings when setting bonds based solely on the criminal charges and that defendants are entitled to a “reasonable” bail based on an individual assessment of the likelihood the defendant would flee or present a threat to an individual or the community.
“Judges recognize Brown as a good decision,” 2nd Judicial District Chief Judge Nan Nash said. “It simply reiterates what we are required to do in evaluating people for pretrial release under the state Constitution.”