ACTION ALERT: Get Politics Out of the Courtroom

Steven Robert Allen,
Director of Public Policy

Did you know that New Mexico is one of only eight states in the entire country that has its Public Defender Department (PDD) under direct control of the governor? This is a huge problem. This antiquated system creates a critical imbalance in New Mexico’s justice system and puts politics where they don’t belong: in the courtroom.

You can help fix this imbalance on November 6 by pledging to vote YES on Constitutional Amendment #5, an amendment to the state constitution that would establish the fully funded, independent PDD New Mexico so desperately needs.

Our Constitution guarantees that everyone – even those who can’t afford to hire a lawyer – has the right to quality legal representation when they are accused of a crime. We guarantee this right by maintaining a public defender department.

But unlike prosecutors and judges working independently in the judicial branch, public defenders are beholden to the political system. This creates a dangerous imbalance in New Mexico’s justice system and endangers the rights of the accused.

Because the PDD is currently under the control of the executive branch, the governor can initiate and prioritize policy approaches that encourage harsh prosecutions of criminal defendants while simultaneously retaining oversight authority and budgetary control over the PDD – a clear conflict of interest.

Our justice system is too precious to place at the whim of politicians. Sign our pledge of support for a fully independent Public Defender System and spread the word to vote YES on Constitutional Amendment #5 in November.



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