Crime stories have been stealing the headlines in recent months, making it clear the district attorney is a key position in local government, and the race for the top prosecutor slot a critical question on the ballot.The District Attorney's job is to protect the public... not to protect the system. Kari Brandenburg's obsession with her early plea program may have reduced the number of cases that judges and juries have to hear, but her inability to tell the difference between a first time offender and a serial killer have cost the lives of far too many. Lisa Torraco not only has the experience to prosecute criminals, but the will to see criminals kept safely away from their potential victims.
The Journal endorses Lisa Torraco for the job.
Torraco, a Republican, says one reason she is running is because she sees resources squandered on cases that should not be prosecuted — resources that could be used to manage Bernalillo County's huge caseload more effectively, reducing delays and increasing the conviction rate.
Her candidacy is motivated by cases that shouldn't be prosecuted, but are. Charging DWI when breath tests fall below the presumed level of intoxication can often fall in that category. Torraco thinks there's plenty of work to be done at the .08 limit and above.
Worse is the injustice committed against a young man with an IQ of less than 65. He should not have lost 24 of the 32 months he spent in jail awaiting trial for murder, while all the DNA evidence pointed to another person who went unidentified until June.
Then there are cases that should go to trial but are plea bargained, she says, like the career criminal who, thanks in part to a deal, was adding to his list of homicide victims instead of being in custody.
And, in too many of the cases selected for trial, the conviction rate indicates prosecutors don't have the evidence — or the trial skills — to prevail. Torraco argues these examples are symptomatic of poor assessment of cases presented to the DA.
A member of the bar since 1991 who has worked on both sides of the criminal justice process and taught prosecution skills at the University of New Mexico, the challenger has experience.
Just as important, Lisa Torraco has the potential to shake up the District Attorney's Office.
----- Correction -----
For some reason we just can't seem to spell Lisa Torraco's last name right or even the same way twice. We spell it with one R or two Cs, an O instead of an A - all in the same paragraph! We apologize to Ms. Torraco for the continued mutilation of her last name. We hope we have at least four years to get it right.