MADD’s Court Monitoring Program enlists court monitors to observe and document what happens in the courtroom during impaired driving case proceedings. The program was created to ensure that impaired driving offenders are prosecuted and justice is achieved. Court monitoring is a tool proven to affect the adjudication process and is recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as an effective countermeasure to reduce impaired driving 1 . Court monitors on the local scale can
impact the handling of impaired driving cases by their mere presence in the court room. Court monitoring is intended to enhance transparency and accountability within the criminal justice system and reduce the likelihood of repeat offenses. One way this goal is achieved is by sharing data and observations with law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, and the public to promote awareness of impaired driving and ensure accountability for all impaired driving offenders. To reduce future offenses, MADD® supports swift and unbiased treatment of all impaired driving cases. 1 Richard, C. M., Magee, K., Bacon-Abdelmoteleb, P., & Brown, J. L. (2018, April). Countermeasures that work: A highway safety countermeasure guide for State Highway Safety Offic- es, Ninth edition (Report No. DOT HS 812 478). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The Court Monitors track misdemeanor drunk driving cases in the Magistrate courts of their respective counties. The monitors are physically present for court settings and acquire case information from courtroom observation and, when necessary, from researching online databases in the event a monitor is not able to be present at the proceeding. The data is then entered into the MADD National Court Monitoring Database for reporting purposes.
New Mexico State Report (reporting period: 1/1/2020 – 12/31/2020)
This report is designed to present observations and trends relative to the six counties monitored and is not intended to be a statistical analysis.
22% 28% 47% <2% <1% 1%
307 394 652 24 7 17
Deferred Prosecution Dismissed Not Guilty
Pending Cases Monitored:
Adjudicated Cases Monitored:
Amended to Lesser Charge Bound Over To District Court
Total Cases Monitored in 2020:
*Pending cases are cases waiting a judgement result.
To learn more about each state MADD monitors, visit madd.org/courts
NM Dona Ana
NM Rio Arriba
NM San Juan
NM Santa Fe
Disposition By County
Bound To Circuit Court
Dismissed Amended To Felony Amended To Lesser Charge / Plea Deal
Deferred Prosecution Not Guilty
Key Findings and Observations New Mexico’s drunk driving case Court Monitoring Project began in July of 2016 and reports in six New Mexico counties: Bernalillo, Doña Ana, McKinley, Rio Arriba, San Juan, and Santa Fe. This project is funded through a contract with the New Mexico Department of Transportation. Based on the case information collected and tracked by MADD court monitors, the following overall observations were presented based on New Mexico’s high dismissal rates:
It is important to note that the Court Monitoring Project randomly monitors only a sample of the overall DWI cases that pass through the courts. This Project is intended to identify trends in dismissals and to provide an elaboration on dismissals. This year’s data reveals similar prosecution obstacles that were found in preceding years – which relate to evidentiary reasons. Irregularities in the collection and receiving of evidence and discovery continue to beleaguer efforts to successful prosecution of cases. District Attorneys cite that complete discovery is crucial for prosecuting cases, without which cases can be summarily dismissed. A streamlined, integrated discovery sharing process that applies to all enforcement agencies within a given county may help to decrease the number of dismissals due to incomplete police-related discovery.
Based on case observations, court monitors recommend increasing support staff and paralegals in the District Attorney offices to oversee the successful collection of all discovery and the facilitation of pre-trial interviews and scheduling officer appearances. In addition, increasing the number of attorneys in the District Attorney offices could decrease the number of cases per person and allow for greater oversight. Another noted pressing reason for dismissals is officer-related failures to appear to various court settings, notably to pre-trial interviews and trial settings. Reasons often cited for such an occurrence are officers not being able to attend the interview and/or not responding to requests for scheduling the interview, often resulting in a dismissal due to failure to appear. Officer-related failures to appear to various settings constituted a sizeable reason for dismissals and, therefore, failure to prosecute cases. An independent scheduling apparatus to ensure communication about an officer’s required presence at a setting could be useful to reduce the incidences in which an officer fails to appear.
COVID-19 Pandemic and MADD New Mexico’s Court Monitoring Program
Beginning March 2020, the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruptions around the nation and posed posed myriad challenges challenges to business operations. New Mexico was no exception to the sudden onset of the COVID-19 crisis. To that end, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and local courts made necessary adjustments and took precautions to remain compliant with public health regulations and to maintain essential services. The data for this year reveals irregularities in case selection and outcomes that are consistent with and a result of court closures, limited access to court records, limited DWI dockets, and travel restrictions imposed by New Mexico’s shelter-in-place order to contain the pandemic. While Court Monitors continued to monitor the courts during this time, each Court Monitor had to comply with state, county, and court-specific restrictions and guidelines that impacted the mode of monitoring, logistics of DWI hearings, and prioritization of attendance. Additionally, Court Monitors were able to observe and report on challenges and trends that were a direct result of how the pandemic encumbered DWI case filings, arrests, and prosecution. Generally, the pandemic’s impact on the Court Monitoring Program include the following: • To remain agile amidst the pandemic, local courts limited access to in-person activities and transitioned misdemeanor hearings to an online or telephonic format. This necessitated the Court Monitoring Program to transition the mode of monitoring from in-person to virtual and/or telephonic monitoring. • Court Monitors’ access to court records and case files was severely curtailed due to court closures, court staff shortages, and other restrictions. • Videoconferencing interruptions posed noticeable delays, disturbances, and challenges to proceedings and hearings, often resulting in connectivity delays, screen freezes, and choppy visual/audio experiences. • Misdemeanor DWI dockets were impacted due to low filings of misdemeanor cases. It should be noted that the above list is non-exhaustive and is subject to whatever else may be required to keep Court Monitors, court personnel, and the public at large safe and administration of court activities efficient. IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAS BEEN AFFECTED BY DRUNK OR DRUG- IMPAIRED DRIVING, MADD IS HERE TO HELP. CALL OUR VICTIM/ SURVIVOR 24-HOUR HELPLINE AT 877-MADD-HELP (877-623-3435).
Driving a vehicle while impaired is a dangerous crime, yet continues to happena- cross the United States. Each year, about 1 million individuals are arrested. What happens after those arrests depends on the criminal justice system. As a court mon- itor, MADD staff get the insider’s perspective on the judicial system whilemaking a vital contribution to your local community. Their presence in court and the data they collect will help make sure our laws are upheld and the criminal justice system does what it is intended to do: Keep us safe. Court monitors achieve the work of MADD’s Court Monitoring Program by doing the following: MONITORING MADD’S Court Monitoring Program
Remind law enforcement that MADD wants to see their cases prosecuted to the fullest extend of the law
Track conviction rates and sanctions
Identify trends in offender age, gender, and blood alcohol concentration level
Notify judicial system of deficiencies
Create public outcry when weaknesses go unaddressed
For more information about court monitoring efforts in your state, please visit madd.org/courts .Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6
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