Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"Go on. All of you. Go on to jail."

The state Supreme Court today is going to take up the case of Taos District Judge Sam Sanchez, who last November ordered the arrest of more than 30 people in his courtroom on charges of contempt of court following a brief disturbance following a hearing.

The high court, one day after the incident, ordered the release of all those jailed -- almost all of whom were members of Taos Pueblo. And Sanchez, a couple of days later dismissed all charges of contempt of court. But the court wants Sanchez to explain "the appropriate procedure for a judge to follow when contemplating contempt for unruly behavior in a courtroom."

The Nov. 19 hearing in Sanchez's court was about a request to reconsider the sentence of Dominic Bau, who pleaded guilty to raping an underage relative at a hotel in 2007. Bau was sentenced to 12 years in prison in April. Sanchez, literally about a minute before he ordered the mass arrest, ruled against Bau's request for a reduced sentence.

My story in today's New Mexican is HERE.

Did Sanchez overreact as those he jailed have said? Or was there real concern about the safety of the rape victim, her family and court staff?

Decide yourself. A tape of the incident can be heard on the player below.

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