Delivery alert

There may be an issue with the delivery of your newspaper. This alert will expire at NaN. Click here for more info.

Recover password

Duran: Public speaking sentence a hardship

SANTA FE – Former Secretary of State Dianna Duran, who pleaded guilty last fall to illegally using campaign funds to fuel a gambling addiction, is asking a judge to ease the public service provisions of her sentence and maintains that requiring her to make four public appearances a month to talk about her fall from grace essentially amounts to “public shaming.”

Former NM Secretary of State Dianna Duran

DURAN: Must speak four times a month

Duran’s attorney, Erlinda Johnson, also argues in her District Court motion that the required speaking engagements threaten Duran’s life, citing Web postings suggesting that Duran should be executed for public corruption, and asks that a judge also cut her required public service hours – which are in addition to the talks – from 2,000 to 1,000.

Attorney General Hector Balderas, who prosecuted the case against Duran, said in a statement Friday that his office opposes the motion for leniency “and will file a response with the court citing our reasons for opposition.”

Duran was sentenced Dec. 14 to 30 days in jail – which she has served – followed by five years of supervised probation. Under a plea agreement that she accepted, she also is required to make four public appearances per month at schools and before civic groups over three years. Duran has to complete the 2,000 hours of community service and pay nearly $28,000 in fines under terms imposed by Judge T. Glenn Ellington.

The new motion says some of the probation conditions are not “reasonably related” to Duran’s rehabilitation.

“Specifically, the condition requiring four public appearances per month wherein Ms. Duran is required to talk about her life, career, poor choices and missteps is not reasonably related to her rehabilitation,” Johnson writes. “This condition is designed to be more akin to a continual public shaming than anything related to her rehabilitation.”

Johnson says Duran’s punishment is similar to someone being required to display a bumper sticker saying “convicted felon” or “convicted DWI.”

The speaking engagements will require her to travel throughout the state over the next five years, the motion says, and asks that the requirement be cut to one appearance per month because four is “nearly impossible to accomplish.”

A footnote mentions that Duran already has been turned away from several organizations.

The motion says the public appearances put Duran in mortal danger. Johnson references the comments section of an Associated Press story published on Yahoo! News after Duran’s sentencing in December, including numerous obscenities, threats and insults about Duran’s physical appearance. One posted comment read, “She should be publicly executed to set an example for all corrupt politicians,” and another says, “There is still a TREE in old town ABQ… they hung people from it in the 1800s.”

Johnson maintains there are numerous people who would “delight at the opportunity to inflict physical harm on Ms. Duran.”

The motion also says Duran is a full-time caregiver for her three young grandsons, and the number of approved service locations in Tularosa, where she lives, are “virtually nonexistent” and also limited in nearby Alamogordo. Johnson says the time commitments required in Duran’s sentencing would be felt primarily by the three children, described as having an absent father and “troubled” mother, because Duran is supposed to do so much traveling.

Duran in addition wants the court to authorize her to move freely throughout the state without having to get authorization from the probation office, primarily because the grandsons’ doctor is in Lincoln County and may need to be visited in an emergency.

Duran originally was charged by Balderas with 64 felony counts of embezzlement, money laundering and other charges, but in her plea agreement she pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors and four felonies.

Her public speaking appearances began Monday at a meeting of Wings for L.I.F.E., which helps families of prisoners, in Albuquerque. KRQE-TV reported Duran showed up 40 minutes late, for which she apologized, and said she would like some privacy now that she’s a private citizen, possibly referring to the TV cameras.

On Friday, state Democratic Party Executive Director Joe Kabourek released a statement saying, “Rather than trying to get special treatment for herself, Duran should be working with the community as her sentence requires.”

The motion hearing has yet to be scheduled. Johnson did not return phone calls seeking comment Friday.

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a story about how coronavirus has affected you, your family or your business? Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? What issues related to the topic would you like to see covered? Or do you have a bright spot you want to share in these troubling times?
   We want to hear from you. Please email or Contact the writer.