Political attacks in next year’s DA race begin: Former Deputy DA slams ‘Spence’ Pacheco

Posted: August 21, 2011 in Uncategorized
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First Judicial District Attorney Angela "Spence" Pacheco. (File photo by Natalie Guillen/The New Mexican)

Former Deputy District Attorney in Santa Fe Lloyd Drager came out swinging with a guest editorial in Sunday’s New Mexican.

Drager, who was asked to resign in November 2008 when current First Judicial District Attorney Angela “Spence” Pacheco won the office (she took office Jan. 1, 2009), slams Pacheco for what he says is inexperience, lack of positive results in DWI cases and for what he implies is throwing a former colleague under the bus.

Drager also takes The New Mexican to task for not doing more to run her out of town.

He also happens to be a person whose name pops up in just about any conversation about a possible opponent of Spence in the 2012 election.

Some excerpts are included below, but the main jist of his guest column can be summed up with the last two lines he wrote:

It is unfortunate that the citizens of the district continue to be put at risk because of her incompetence. It is also unfortunate that this newspaper will not hold her accountable.

Drager brings up a pair of specific cases. One is the Scott Ownes vehicular homicide trial that resulted in a not-guilty verdict from a jury in April. The second was last month’s dismissed DWI case of John Paul Chavez, Santa Fe’s notorious repeat DWI offender, because no prosecutor ever made an appearance of entry in the case let alone exchanged discovery with the defense in more than five months between arraignment and the case getting tossed by state District Judge Michael Vigil on July 15.

Here is more from Drager’s guest editorial:

With Ms. Pacheco’s record of not being able to prosecute vehicular homicide cases (Scott Owens was acquitted of killing four teenagers), she should be called to task for yet another breach of the public trust. It is her responsibility to protect the citizens of the First Judicial District from drunken drivers.

I have known Chief Deputy Charlie Baldonado for 25 years and have tried two first-degree murder cases with him. I hold him in the highest esteem. It is wrong for Ms. Pacheco to try to lay the blame for yet another of her failures at the feet of Mr. Baldonado.

Baldonado has been in and out of the hospital for months and has recently resigned for health reasons. Pacheco has acknowledged she wasn’t scrutinizing his caseload as much as some of the younger attorneys in her office because, as Drager points out, Baldonado is a veteran lawyer with a very respected reputation. Essentially, when she would ask him how his caseload was coming along while he was sick, she took him at his word when he didn’t ask for help.

The Owens case was certainly a polarizing one in this community. The case was prosecuted by Chief Deputy District Attorneys Doug Couleur and Juan Valencia, who as Drager points out, are also former defense attorneys. In fact, one of Drager’s complaints of Pacheco is her decision to fill her office with former defense attorneys.

Other than Mr. Baldonado, her senior staff is former public defenders or contract attorneys for the public defender’s office, none of whom have any administrative experience, and obviously little commitment to prosecution. This was well evidenced in the Scott Owens case, when there were three defense attorneys in the courtroom, two sitting at the prosecution table and one with the defendant.

Drager is by no means the first to criticize Pacheco’s performance in the office and he won’t be the last. He is, however, the first I can think of that submitted a guest opinion piece to The New Mexican while also being an expected political opponent in the coming year.

As one reader comment states at the bottom of Drager’s guest column:

As Lloyd Drager prepares to run fro district attorney he fires the first shot across the bow.  All while trying to disguise his shot as a letter from a concerned citizen. If you are going to run (which you are) have the juevos to say so in your letter. Let people know that this is a political attack and not just a concerned citizen letter. — Reader comment by James Thadeous

Here are some recent articles related to this post:

  1. Devin Bent says:

    The photo accompanying this article is not encouraging: The Dean leans against a chair back while staring at stacks and stacks of files on a table.

    Obviously, this DA lacks what is standard for a DA’s office — a case tracking system that will pop up every case with a court appearance that day.

    The photo suggests that she lacks a file cabinet.

  2. Ola Chase says:

    Go Drager!! I cannot say that Drager is my first choice for the new DA but anyone will be better than Angela “Spence” Pacheco…even the last guy who ran the job into the ground! I find it amusing that Spence came in and asked all the ‘good DA’s’ to resign and replaced them with inexperienced kids straight out of law school.

    If you go to court on any given day, you will see that they are unprepared, unknowing, and partially arrogant. The Public Defenders and Defense Attorneys that were once at the DA’s office are now doing an amazing job for the wrong side.

    The joke that goes along with Spence Pacheco and the Judges in District Court goes a little something like this…”If you’re going to get in trouble…Do it in Santa Fe because ONLY after your 88th chance will anything happen…unless you break into the Judge’s mothers residence or the District Attorneys”.

    Thanks Spence, at least the criminals in this community will rally around you.

  3. duke davis says:

    Ola, you are “Right-On!” with information you stated regarding the DA’s office. Citizens of Santa Fe County should take more responsibility in where they place their votes & their confidence.

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