May 14, 2015

Defense attys want info on possibly uncertified cops

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gavel on stack of documentsAn organization of criminal defense attorneys is the most recent group requesting swift action on allegations of training and certification deficiencies within the Albuquerque Police Department.

A member of the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (NMCDLA) said the group is in the process of requesting action from both New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas and the Second Judicial District Attorney Kari Brandenburg.

NMCDLA Treasurer, Barry Porter told New Mexico Political Report he expects the group will write a letter asking Balderas and Brandenburg to move forward on releasing names of officers who might not be properly certified.

Porter said cases of resisting arrest and assault or battery on police officers may come under scrutiny, especially if the officer was not properly trained.

“All of those [types of cases] require, as an element of the offense, that the officer be in the lawful discharge of their duties,” he said. “But if they’re not adequately trained, we would challenge their physical interaction with the citizen on the street.”

The concerns from NMCDLA comes almost a week after former police trainer John Corvino filed a lawsuit against APD accusing the department of improperly training officers and reprimanding Corvino for speaking up.

“It’s a giant mess,” Corvino’s lawyer, Thomas Grover said in a phone interview.

He said the issue is not just about his client’s lawsuit, but also the validity of the certifications for possibly 100 APD officers.

“[The Corvino case] isn’t about fixing these officers’ certifications, that’s just a residual element that the city has to deal with,” Grover said.

Grover told New Mexico Political Report he was not aware NMCDLA was in the process of addressing the APD training, but he also wasn’t surprised.

“I think they [NMCDLA] do need to come forward with some sort of position,” he said.

For now, Porter said, the group of defense lawyers have not made an official statement, but that does not keep other attorneys from challenging the credentials of officers. While the names or the exact number of officers who are potentially not certified are unknown, Porter said that information is all public record and subject to public review.

“We can start requesting that information in all of our cases,” he said.

Porter said his group’s next meeting will be sometime in June.

New Mexico Political Report sought comment from APD but received no response.

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