Saturday, October 15, 2005


The case of United States v. Vigil is on trial – in the newspapers. It is rare that federal cases in New Mexico are tried in the newspapers. It is unseemly. The United States Attorney struck the first low blow, if the papers are right. He held a press conference and summed up by alleging that the State Treasurer, Mr. Vigil, was using the treasury as a personal ATM machine.

Sam Bregman, defense attorney, responded with the usual denial of guilt, but went one further. Instead of following the Reardon Rules, and restricting his statement to the approved rubric, “My client asserts his innocence.”, Bregman states that he, Bregman, knows that Vigil is innocent. In this, he went way over the line, unless he is an eye witness, in which case he should drop out as lawyer.

Perhaps Mr. Bregman has been influenced by lawyers such as Alan Dershowitz and F. Lee Bailey, who violated the rules of lawyering by expressing their personal opinions as to the guilt or innocence of a client, O. J. Simpson. But what motivates David C. Iglesias, U.S. Attorney, to try his case in the newspapers? Is it politics? He is certainly painting the Democratic party as a bunch of thieves and our elected Democrat watchdog officials as incompetent or corrupt. He has experienced assistants. Is he consulting them, have they become “yes-men,” or is he out there on his own? Does he have political ambitions?

Do you question whether Iglesias is trying his case in the newspapers? Why file (so it becomes public) detailed affidavits and so-called exhibits to “motions?” Do you question whether Bregman is following suit? Then point out another such exhibition. This mess degrades the federal Court criminal justice system.

In part, we blame the federal Courts, from the Supreme Court down. They operate in relative secrecy. No audio; no video. What a pity, because the federal Court in New Mexico would, if televised and put on line, raise all of the judiciary and justice system in the eyes of the citizens.

What a waste, to not have been able to see the hearing yesterday, regarding the conditions of release of the accused, Vigil, on live television, audio, and on-line. Senior U.S. District Court Judge James A. Parker, on-line, would do a great deal to restore, or bolster, the confidence of the people in the justice system.