LAS CRUCES - Officials with the city of Las Cruces announced Monday they will reallocate funds toward the municipal court system.
In total, the city will reallocate $147,000 to hire a city attorney and additional support staff, said Stuart Ed, the Las Cruces city manager.
"What we found was a lot of our cases were going to Magistrate Court and they were not staying in Municipal Court," said Jennifer Vega-Brown, the new city attorney hired in April. "(That) means our city ordinances were not being enforced as effectively as they could be."
The city of Las Cruces averages around 473 domestic violence arrests and 388 DUI arrests annually, said Las Cruces Police Chief Jaime Montoya. For almost a decade, those cases have been prosecuted outside of municipal court.
Between those two charges alone, the city would prosecute almost 900 cases, which would ease the burden on state court. ?
“(Police) officers have to prosecute their own cases, so reallocating resources to have an attorney in Municipal Court is going to help us immensely," Montoya said.
"It is unusual not to have a city attorney in municipal court," Vega-Brown said. "I’m not aware of a municipality that doesn’t staff municipal court, so it’s quite unusual, especially for a city this size."
The transition should take effect on January 1, 2018, Ed said.