District Attorney’s office: “Please leave a message.”

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I know I’m not the only reporter in Silver City wondering what’s going on with the District Attorney’s office, but I’ll come out right now and say the place has me frustrated to no end.

Last week, I made some calls trying to find information on the Teresa Quinteros case. Quinteros, for those who don’t recall, is accused of defrauding an elderly couple of more than $100,000. She had a plea hearing recently, and I didn’t know about. So, being the enterprising reporter I am, I put in a call to the assistant DA prosecuting the case.

Two days ago, when I hadn’t heard from him, I placed another call. Still, I have nothing.

Yesterday, I tried to find out some information on Edward Werner, the 64-year-old California man who was charged with 156 counts of sexual exploitation of a child. I heard from a resident that there was a plea deal struck between Werner and the state (read: DA’s office). In the end, I was forced to get a copy of the plea agreement itself from the District Court clerk’s office, and wrote my story with no comment from the DA (Werner got 4 years, and 153 of the counts were dropped).

Finally, I wrote a short blurb today on the John Edwards murder case. Edwards was killed on Dec. 30, 2005, and a preliminary hearing for the defendant, James M. Snyder, began on Monday. I didn’t know the hearing had been rescheduled (it was originally set for March 31), and, by the time I arrived at magistrate court there was no longer room in the courtroom.

I tried calling the District Attorney’s office again yesterday and (twice) this morning. Again, I was forced to run the story with no comment from the DA.

Now, I submit that the District Attorney would want to notify constituents about the criminals who are being prosecuted, and the outcome of those proceedings.

In the past, Mary Lynne Newell and her deputies have been very good about getting this information out. Lately, however, it’s been a crapshoot.

There is some good news, however. The office has agreed to e-mail me a case schedule for the district and magistrate courts in the area, which should mean I’ll have advance notice of any pending hearings.

It’s a start, but until the deputy and assistant attorneys return reporters’ phone calls, the people will remain in the dark about the prosecution of criminals.

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