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Declining Performance

I probably should have given this more attention last week, but I guess better late than never. It looks like even by her own accounting District Attorney Kari Brandenburg’s performance is spiraling downward (subscription):

[Kari] Brandenburg says the DA’s Office got convictions in 57 percent of the cases it took to trial in 2007 and says the overall conviction rate since she took office is more than 95 percent, taking into account guilty pleas.

Brandenburg concedes the data raise some questions and said she will thoroughly look into all of the cases on the list.

She pointed out that some of the cases were gang-related and witnesses backed out of testifying at the last minute. Four of the acquittals and three of the mistrials involved sex crimes, which she said are hard to get convictions on.

Of the four murder cases on this year’s list, there were three convictions and one acquittal.

Torraco had a different view of the 2008 statistics.

“It’s a disgrace. It’s a travesty. There are a million words to describe this,” said Torraco, who believes the DA’s Office should win 80 percent of its cases. “I am seriously questioning their ability to analyze cases.

“When we have a DA whose loss record is greater than 50 percent, we know she is clogging the system with cases that should not have even been brought.”

Let’s review, shall we? District Attorney Kari Brandenburg has an overall conviction rate over the last eight years of 95%. But, in 2007 according to her own analysis, that rate dropped to 57%, and then according to an analysis done by her opponent in the District Attorney’s race, Lisa Torraco, that conviction rate has dropped down to an alarming 37% for the first six months of this year.

At this rate of decline, it won’t be long before the all of the criminals are running around free on our streets. But, probably most troubling for me is this statement that District Attorney Brandenburg made:

Brandenburg concedes the data raise some questions and said she will thoroughly look into all of the cases on the list.

How can you run an office as District Attorney and only become aware of the precipitous drop in convictions through an Albuquerque Journal interview? How exactly has she been benchmarking her performance if she wasn’t already aware of the significant declines in convictions.

It’s this type of declining performance that makes it clear that District Attorney Kari Brandenburg must go.

Disclosure: I’m supporting Lisa Torraco for D.A.