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.

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