Friday, April 17, 2015

Kari's Curveball: Names Noted Trial Attorney To Prosecute Boyd Case; Move Could Further Shake-Up APD And City Hall 

Randi McGinn
"Be careful what you wish for." So goes the old adage and so it is for the defense attorneys who insisted that Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg be disqualified from prosecuting murder charges against two ABQ police officers who shot and killed homeless and mentally ill camper James Boyd. Instead of facing assistant district attorneys, the defense is now going to be up against one of the state's most high-powered and well-respected trial attorneys in Randi McGinn.

In naming McGinn as special prosecutor for the case after the officers' lawyers--including Sam Bregman--had her disqualified by a district court judge, Brandenburg threw yet another curveball into the APD crisis that has roiled ABQ.

Her first curveball was actually bringing the murder charges against officers Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez. That came soon after it was revealed that APD had been investigating Brandenburg on bribery charges involving alleged criminal conduct of her drug addicted son. Talk about a legal soap opera. . .

McGinn is not the type of attorney to shy away from picking at the scabs of APD and seeing what is underneath. And with Mayor Berry's administration continuing to bunker in, what McGinn finds out could reverberate well beyond the courtroom.

McGinn served as a prosecutor in the DA's office in the 80's. Attorney Pete Dinelli, a former chief deputy district attorney who worked with her, told us:

From a defense standpoint, removing the DA from the case was a major tactical error. Randi McGinn is one of the most respected trial attorneys in the state and former prosecutor. The tables are now turned and defense attorneys Sam Bregman and Luis Robles now how a worthy opponent. Brandenburg lives to fight another day.

The Legal Beagles inform us that the most likely course for McGinn is to pursue the charges at a preliminary hearing which could be expected to last several weeks and go into detail about the Boyd case as well as overall APD operations. A judge would then decide whether to send the case to trial.

If, as expected, McGinn moves the charges forward, the city is in for a battle royale that will not only have the Legal Beagles on the edge of their seats but could actually serve to inform the city and nation just how Albuquerque became embroiled in a police crisis that has sadly become its identifying feature

McGinn is now a third major actor in this play. City Hall and the Justice Department have agreed to a consent decree to reform APD but who knows how aggressive the clean-up effort will be. McGinn, in investigating APD practices and procedures, could be likened to a special prosecutor for not only this murder case, but for the years-long shooting spree that brought the Feds to town in the first place.

Yep, Sam and RJ, be careful what you wish for (Bregman had no comment on the McGinn appointment.)


DA Brandenburg
Senior Alligator analysis now of the Brandenburg special prosecutor appointment:

Was it fear or anger Thursday as Kari Brandenburg announced the appointment of a special prosecutor to handle the Boyd shooting case? No other district attorney in the state is willing to handle the case. Is that a show of solidarity with the BernCo DA or fear of APD retaliation? Kari took on the city's community leadership accusing it of being feckless in the face of an out of control APD and an elected leadership unwilling to take on tough issues. She wasn't specific but all of us who have pleaded for action on APD, jobs, capital outlay or hiring have a good idea to whom she refers. 

 We also worry that the Dept. of Justice is enabling the city in its foot dragging as it acquiesces to one delay after another in proceeding to reform and clean up APD. It has been a year since the DOJ announced its intention to address the APD mess and over a year since the Boyd shooting. It is enough to make a grown woman angry at least that is what I hope we saw in Kari Brandenburg Thursday.


Brandenburg's bold pick for prosecuting the Boyd case comes on the heels of BernCo Dem district attorney candidate Raul Torrez announcing he has already raised $104,000 for his campaign--$10,000 of which was a personal loan. Brandenburg has not announced yet if she'll seek a fifth four year term next year and face off with Torrez. Her profile has never been higher and her aggressive pursuit of this APD case--after years of holding back--is sure to garner the attention of the Democratic base. Will Brandenburg throw yet another curveball and announce a re-election bid? Stay tuned. . .

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