- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - More than a dozen Republican lawmakers on Tuesday asked the New Mexico Supreme Court to revamp rules they say have led to violent criminals being released in the state’s most populous county.

The GOP lawmakers are the latest to raise concerns about an order issued by the court in February that set strict timelines for the disposition of criminal cases.

The intent had been to reduce jail crowding, but the lawmakers say prosecutors in Bernalillo County are being forced to dismiss hundreds of cases rather than face sanctions under the rules.

The lawmakers described the deadlines set by the so-called case management order as unreasonable, saying prosecutors should have up to 60 days to provide discovery to the defense and double the time to bring cases to trial.

“In meeting with law enforcement and prosecutors, the sentiment has been expressed on numerous occasions that the rule, in its current form, will cost lives,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter was signed by House Speaker Don Tripp and others in the House as well as Sen. Sander Rue of Albuquerque, a member of the legislative Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee.

The state Supreme Court has solicited comments from prosecutors, public defenders, officials with the 2nd District Court and others on proposed amendments but has yet to make a final decision on what changes to adopt.

Artie Pepin, director of the administrative office of the courts, said the order was implemented to ensure prosecutors, defense attorneys and police agencies cooperate to produce evidence and witnesses in a reasonable time.

The proposed changes include allowing more time for prosecutors to exchange initial evidence and other information with the defense in certain felony cases.

Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg on Tuesday blamed the rule for the dismissal of a previous case involving a man now accused of driving drunk and killing three people in a crash Sunday.

Had the previous case not been dismissed for a lack of complete discovery, she said Jacob Jaramillo would have had to comply with conditions of release that would have made alcohol off limits.

“While we cannot say whether or not he would have abided by his conditions of release, they certainly could have served as a deterrent,” Brandenburg said in a statement.

With new charges pending against Jaramillo, prosecutors must present his case to a grand jury within 10 business days of his arrest. To do that, Brandenburg said her office must first receive a completed case from Albuquerque police.

Before the case management order, prosecutors say cases were allowed to be thoroughly investigated.

“The new deadlines strain an already overburdened system by trying to force it to move at lightning speed without additional resources,” Brandenburg said.

Prosecutors are planning to meet with the state Supreme Court next week.

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