Public Defender Commission vetoed

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By Carol A. Clark

Ethical and constitutional problems, as well as a desire to avoid more bureaucracy, are reasons Gov. Bill Richardson cited Friday for vetoing legislation creating a new Public Defender Commission.House Bill 193, enacted during the 30-day legislative session ending Feb. 14, called for a commission that would have had independent oversight of the public defenders department. The governor’s objection is that the bill fails to provide the appropriate limit on the commission to prevent improper interference with the professional operation of the department.“Upon the advice of the chief public defender, I am vetoing the creation of a new bureaucracy – the Public Defender Commission,” said Richardson in a news release. “This new commission creates an unnecessary and unaccountable layer of bureaucracy, which encroaches on the rightful authority of the executive.”The commission would have created an ethical problem, Richardson said, because members of the commission can be non-attorneys.

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