State law encourages secret payouts

Before Cynthia Herald left the Bernalillo County courthouse last November she told reporters that she was relieved to finally gain closure on an ordeal with the University of New Mexico that lasted more than half a decade. Herald sued the university’s medical school, claiming she was wrongfully dismissed from a residency program and settled before closing arguments. The terms of the settlement were, by state law, temporarily shielded from public scrutiny. That meant the public couldn’t see the total amount UNM agreed to pay, including how much money was to come from the medical school’s anesthesiology department and how much from the state’s Risk Management Division. Seven months later, the University still won’t release that information and cites the same law.

Mayoral candidate won’t say if he will award contracts to his current employer

Almost every election includes questions about donors’ intentions and if a winning candidate would give special treatment to one in exchange for the biggest contribution. But sometimes a candidate’s day job can raise questions about how he or she will conduct business as mayor—and if old employers will get preferential treatment. Mayoral candidate Brian Colón, for example, works at the prominent Albuquerque legal firm Robles, Rael & Anaya P.C. The firm has received large city contracts in two different administrations and is staffed with a former city attorney, a former Bernalillo County attorney and a number of former assistant city attorneys. Robles, Rael & Anaya has decades of combined experience in city matters, perhaps the most of any law firm in the city. Colón recently indicated in an email to NM Political Report that he would not cancel city legal contracts with his current employer if he were elected as mayor.

Mayoral candidate calls claims his law firm represents former APD chief ‘propaganda’

An Albuquerque mayoral candidate attempted to distance himself from a former Albuquerque police chief accused of improper and possibly illegal actions involving  a city contract. Last week a Twitter user said former Democratic Party of New Mexico chairman Brian Colόn was “So far the best candidate,” but went on to ask “However is it true your firm represents [former Albuquerque Police Chief] Ray Schultz?”

Colόn, who is an attorney, responded on Twitter Monday afternoon, saying “My firm does not represent Schultz. Propaganda.”

My firm does not represent Schultz. Propaganda. DOJ compliance will be priority for our new chief of police in the Colón Administration.

Murder charge against one ex-APD officer dropped

Special Prosecutor Randi McGinn on Monday dismissed the second-degree murder charge against former Albuquerque police officer Dominique Perez, who was accused of fatally shooting homeless camper James Boyd in March 2014. McGinn filed a one-page motion in state District Court in Albuquerque to dismiss the case “without prejudice,” which means that incoming District Attorney Raul Torrez could refile the charge if he chooses to after he takes office on Jan. 1. McGinn said she couldn’t comment on why she dismissed the charge against Perez, but she did add that the second-degree murder charge against former officer Keith Sandy remained in place and that Torrez will have to decide on whether to retry Sandy. McGinn said she spoke last week with Perez’s attorney, Luis Robles, about her intent to dismiss the charge against his client.

The recent history of embattled DA Brandenburg

New Mexico’s district attorneys walk a difficult tightrope, weighing their roles in criminal courts, where they represent the state and work closely with law enforcement to prosecute crimes, against their political roles in the court of public opinion. For Second Judicial District Attorney Kari Brandenburg, that precarious balance has reached a tipping point. Her approach to officer-involved shootings has shifted over the years, but never so drastically as last week, when she opted to level murder charges against Albuquerque Police Department SWAT member Dominique Perez and now-retired detective Keith Sandy for the March 2014 shooting death of James Boyd. Here’s a look at Brandenburg’s long tenure and some of the events, controversies and scandals that have surrounded her handling of officer-involved shootings. If the timeline does not load, click here for another version.