Santa Fe sheriff's detective, DA in dispute over records

  • In US
  • 2022-09-24 04:01:00Z
  • By The Santa Fe New Mexican

Sep. 24-A judge in the 2nd Judicial District in Bernalillo County has ordered the First Judicial District Attorney's Office in Santa Fe to either produce records sought by a Santa Fe County sheriff's detective or explain why it should not be ordered to do so.

Second District Court Judge Nancy J. Franchini issued an alternative writ of mandamus with those directions Tuesday in response to a petition Detective Patrick Ficke filed earlier this month accusing the District Attorney's Office of violating the Inspection of Public Records Act by failing to produce records pertaining to the office's recent misconduct complaint against him.

The writ gives the District Attorney's Office 30 days to produce the records or show cause why it shouldn't.

"If they don't produce them, we'll have a hearing and from that any number of things can happen," Ficke's attorney, Thomas R. Grover, said Friday.

"If we get the records we can just make a claim for an application of damages," he added. "The next stage would be the issuance of a preemptory writ ... ordering them to produce everything."

"We turned over everything we had ready before we'd even been served with that and we dispute every fact in that complaint and we will be filing a response," First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said in a phone interview Thursday.

Carmack-Altwies filed a misconduct complaint against Ficke with the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy in July, saying among other things that her review of some of his cases revealed facts in criminal complaints filed by Ficke were not backed up by evidence from body cameras. Carmack-Altwies told the sheriff's office she had misgivings about Ficke's credibility and her office would no longer rely on his testimony in criminal cases.

Grover sent the District Attorney's Office a tort claim notice Sept. 9 saying he intends to file a lawsuit against Carmack-Altwies and her office for "malicious abuse of process," and alleging the DA never spoke to Ficke about her concerns before taking potentially career-ending action against him, violating the detective's constitutional right to due process.

The bulk of the records Ficke's petition says the office has failed to produce are related to the district attorney's complaint about Ficke and the investigation that proceeded it.

Among the documents sought are records of instances where Ficke is accused of having interceded in cases involving confidential informants, as Carmack-Altwies has alleged.

The detective - who is on "restricted duty" while the sheriff's office investigates the district attorney's allegations against him - also seeks records pertaining to the cases Carmack-Altwies reviewed before filing her complaint, and correspondence regarding Ficke exchanged between prosecutors in the office and any other third parties or citizens.

The records were sought in three requests in August, according to Ficke's petition to the court, and though the requests were acknowledged, no records had been produced when Ficke filed the petition.

Grover said Friday the District Attorney's Office has since provided some but not all of the records.

"We only started getting records after the writ was issued," he said Friday.


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