With all the hoopla recently regarding DWI, it's most difficult to discern facts from hyperbole. The State Supreme Court just enacted a new rule regarding pretrial interviews. Now, if interviews haven't been completed prior to trial, they must be conducted at the courthouse on the day of trial.
Some in the press have lauded this as a positive step and suggested this represents closing a major loophole. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. The “loophole” is in reality removing a major component of due process. Pretrial interviews are in fact necessary and an integral part of the discovery process. Often new details relevant to a defendant's guilt or innocence are unearthed in such interviews. Conducting the interviews the day of trial would preclude further development of new facts discovered. This rule change will not only affect DWI cases, but will control all cases heard in the Metropolitan Court.
Currently, the public is demanding a higher DWI conviction rate. While this is legitimate from a public policy standpoint, the Supreme Court is misguided in its decision. The Court has a special committee that advises it on rules for Metropolitan and Magistrate Courts. At the time of the change, the committee was chaired by Judge Sharon Walton. The committee advised against this rule change. The committee is composed of a broad spectrum of officials, including judges and prosecutors.
It would appear that the Court has bowed to contemporary political pressures. The Courts are not responsible for conviction rates. This is the prosecutor's obligation. The Court's job is to ensure that there is fundamental fairness and due process under the U.S. and New Mexico Constitutions. With the new rule, the power has now dramatically shifted to the prosecution. What incentive would the state have to ever schedule pretrial interviews? Why not wait and put the onus on the Metro Judge? Any judge that refuses to play this game will face certain hostility and criticism in the press.
This is the untold story and the potentially tragic consequences of this rule change.
Larry Neely Albuquerque
Buffy Needs the Snip
[Re: Letters, “A Rhetorical Pile of Dog Shit,” Dec. 29, 2005-Jan. 4, 2006] I'd be interested in seeing the article Rick Mathes claims he wrote about homosexuality. I found little about him on the Internet except a piece from the NetLore archive about a statement a Muslim man allegedly made about jihad.
If Mr. Mathes indeed has written such an article, is there any comparison to "Buffy" falling in love with a boy dog and having puppies to a person's choice of partners, whatever the sex? While I realize that "Buffy" is just an example, a dog does not go out and "fall in love and have puppies." Perhaps Mathes could be preaching that Buffy should be spayed and her guy pal neutered.
Ann M. Beyke Albuquerque
Zone It and They Will Come
[Re: Ortiz y Pino, “Magic with Magnets,” Jan. 5-11] As a Developer and New Urbanist, I see a few missing ingredients in making mag lev (which may be the right technology), or any other form of mass transit in New Mexico, successful:
1. You mention "moving people from home to work." How about combining mass transit with the low-tech approach of form-based coding versus euclidean zoning, so that cities can be built or rebuilt in increments of walkable, mixed-use, mixed-income, neighborhoods/districts/corridors, where the potential exists (which doesn't today, statewide) to walk or bike to work, school or shopping? Changing our development rules at the state and local levels would seem to be the least expensive and most effective way of reducing vehicle trips and miles traveled. Then, we can overlay effective mass transit on the revised land use policies.
2. Mass transit only works well when the origin and destination of the trip are in walkable, pedestrian-friendly areas. Do we even really have one such area in ABQ today? Again, zoning and transportation design standards are giving us the opposite result. The percent of transit trips in New Mexico is woeful, and capital investment isn't going to do the trick. Zoning reform will.
3. There's a little "build it and they will come" to your column, with all due respect. Without land use policies and funding mechanisms in place, I don't believe they will come if we build it.
4. Elevated tracks--cut out light and air, as shown in a decade of film noir that was a factor in driving public policy, and millions of Americans, to suburban living. For retail and residential vitality along mass transit corridors, at-grade works best, it seems to me. With modern streetcars, for example (Portland has them), motor vehicles and rail vehicles can share the lane. Cheaper than light rail, because of vehicle weight, no need for dedicated ROW, and other reasons.
Rob Dickson Albuquerque
Impeach Them All
I sent Congresswoman Heather Wilson a letter a few months ago concerning the impeachment of President George “WMD” Bush. She sent me back a form letter stating her support for the impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton. I replied saying I supported the impeachment of President Clinton because no one is above the law but pointed out that George Bush was the sitting president. The Commander in Chief ignored warnings before 9/11, he used bad intelligence from the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, and he may have committed treason by leaking the identity of a CIA agent who specialized in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in retaliation for someone speaking truth about the president's lies about Iraq. Congresswoman Wilson replied that she understood that I didn't like the president, but that is no reason to impeach him! I look forward to the entire U.S. Government, Republicans and Democrats, hanging in the gallows for their war crimes.
The U.S.A. would have more credibility in putting people on trial for war crimes, including preemptive invasions and occupations, torture, secret prisons, secret police and using chemical WMD like white phosphorous against civilians, if they were not guilty of all of the same crimes in their terrorist attack on Iraq.
Brian Fejer Albuquerque
Letters should be sent with the writer's name, address and daytime phone number via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also be faxed to (505) 256-9651. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be published in any medium; we regret that owing to the volume of correspondence we cannot reply to every letter.