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Chief judge: Change in charging process will be more gradual

August 25, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state District Court for metro Albuquerque is pulling back on plans to reduce the use of grand juries to charge criminal defendants while increasing use of preliminary hearings.

Court officials said in July that there’d be fewer grand juries and more open-court preliminary hearings to formally launch criminal cases.

But the Albuquerque Journal reports that Chief Judge Nan Nash said Friday that the decreased use of grand juries will be more gradual than previously planned and that she’s responding to concerns voiced by law enforcement officials.

Critics of the change said scheduling more preliminary hearings could tie up police officers in court.

Supporters of preliminary hearings say they can speed cases along because evidence is disclosed earlier, prompting defendants to decide to whether to fight charges.

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