April 26, 2016

Finally, Phil Griego case has a judge

In what looks like a final decision, attorneys for a former state senator and prosecutors agreed on a judge to preside over the case.

PhilGriego SenateBrett Loveless will preside over the high profile case of Phil Griego, who is facing corruption charges related to a real estate deal that ended with his resignation from the state SEnate.

The last time we checked in with the case, the Democrat from San Jose pleaded not guilty. This came in front of the eighth judge assigned to the case. Before District Court Judge Sarah Singleton took the case, the previous seven recused themselves.

Singleton and the final 1st Judicial District judge since recused themselves, prompting a look elsewhere in the state.

Enter Loveless, a 2nd Judicial District Court judge. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Charles W. Daniels, appointed Loveless to the case on Monday after prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed Loveless was acceptable. The two sides also agreed on two retired judges.

Loveless will be eligible to receive mileage and per diem for travel from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. That would come out of the First Judicial District Court’s budget.

Daniels wrote “it would be in the best interests of judicial economy and the expeditious disposition of the foregoing case” to assign the case to Loveless.

The case involves a land deal with the state on a building in Santa Fe. Griego engineered the legislation that allowed the deal to go forward, though he did not personally carry the legislation.

Still, Griego ended up brokering the deal and made money of of it. He admitted that this violated Senate rules and a provision of the state constitution when he resigned from the state Senate.

According to prosecutors, Griego allegedly pressured the Capitol Buildings Planning Commission to review the deal; the commission had no authority to reject the deal but the legislation required a review for the deal to go through.