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).
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