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Court to hold more preliminary hearings, fewer grand juries

July 28, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Court officials for New Mexico’s populous county plan to drastically reduce use of closed-door grand juries to charge criminal defendants, instead having judges hold more preliminary hearings in open court to hear testimony.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that officials for the 2nd Judicial District Court serving Bernalillo County say the change in how it’s decided whether there is probable cause to support formal charges should save money and mean cases are vetted early on.

The change has the backing of the chief public defender who says it will lead to earlier resolutions of some bases but the district attorney says it’ll make launching new criminal cases more challenging and resource intensive.

Prosecutors in Bernalillo County now use grand juries to issue indictments in the vast majority of felony cases.

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