ROSWELL, N.M. — Judges in New Mexico have disbanded a newly seated grand jury in Chaves County, citing a lack of funding.
Fifth judicial district judges disbanded the county’s second grand jury in August, saying there wasn’t enough money to pay jurors, The Roswell Daily Record reported (http://bit.ly/2cciThI ).
“There’s no money. We’re broke. That’s why they had to discontinue it,” Fifth Judicial District Chief Judge Jane Shuler Gray said. She presides over cases in Eddy County, which she said hasn’t had a grand jury in decades.
Shuler Gray told the Daily Record on Monday that a grand jury isn’t necessary.
“The reason they quit calling grand juries, there is no more money to pay them,” she said. “But the system will continue working fine without it. There will be criminal charges filed. They’ll go through the magistrate court and have a preliminary hearing. If it’s a felony, they’ll come up to district court if it’s bound over, like they would if they had been indicted through a grand jury.”
Last year, district judges denied a citizen petition asking for an 18-month grand jury in Chaves County. The judges did, however, convene a grand jury in February that was seated for three months. The second grand jury, which was created in May, is the one that has been disbanded.
Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh led the effort to bring a grand jury to Chaves County. He said he is disappointed because he offered to discuss how Roswell could contribute to funding the jury, but the judges didn’t respond.
“So I’m disappointed, to be candid with you, and disturbed,” he said Monday.
Information from: Roswell Daily Record, http://www.roswell-record.com