District Attorney's Office discusses case backlog during town hall meeting
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The backlog of cases in Dona Ana County was the topic of discussion during Thursday's town hall meeting with the District Attorney's office.
During the last 3 months District Attorney Mark D'Antonio's staff has been working on moving about 2,000 cases that were inherited from the previous administration.
"We're all communicating and we're all on the same page," said Chief Deputy Pedro Pineda.
Pineda says the office is looking at case lists from 2009 up to 2012 and figuring out which defendants are still in jail.
From there they are working on plea deals and taking some of those cases to trial as soon as possible.
Pineda added some cases are missing important documents needed to continue and that has slowed the process in moving cases forward.
They are working closely with liaisons that have those files and the public defenders office to make sure everyone has a complete file.
"There's no loss of cases where the case just lingers for years," Pineda said of the unified approach.
To help keep some cases out the courtroom, the district attorney's office is also implementing a pre-prosecution diversion program for white collar type crimes.
Pineda said it works similar to a probation program supervised by the district attorney's office and can range in time from 18 months on.
The defendant cannot be accused of violent crimes or crimes involving children to be a part of that program.
The program is just as rigorous as a probation sentence.
"If they don't pay their fines and they don't follow with community service or they don't show up, they're kicked out of the program and the case is then put back on the trial docket," Pineda said of the conditions of the program.
The public defender's office and the district attorney will hold meetings twice a month where they will discuss a list of defendants that might make a change in plea or are ready for trial.