Late appointment leaves district without D.A. temporarily

By Mike Linn

Criminal court cases scheduled for Monday were postponed because Gov. Bill Richardson had not appointed a district attorney in time to replace Brett Carter, whose duties end at 5 p.m. today.
Carter has accepted a job to work as the district public defender. Incoming District Attorney Matt Chandler — whose official term begins Jan. 1 — was expected to be appointed by the governor to replace Carter in a smooth transition.
When the governor had not appointed Chandler by Friday morning, criminal cases scheduled for Monday were postponed because without a district attorney associates lose their oath of office, Chandler said.
Assistant District Attorney Fred Van Soelen said the governor appointed Chandler after 5 p.m. on Friday, and by then all the cases had already been postponed. He said Tuesday’s cases will run as scheduled.
“No one knows why the governor didn’t appoint Chandler sooner,” Carter said. “It’s unusual, all it takes is a signature on a page. I’m not sure why he would wait on something like this; the election wasn’t contested.”
Gilbert Gallegos, a governor’s spokesperson, said Saturday he didn’t know why Richardson didn’t appoint Chandler before Friday evening.
Chandler defeated Carter in June’s primary election and was unopposed in the general election. He was expected to be appointed shortly after the general election on Nov. 2.
Chandler’s duties take effect at 5:01 p.m. today, according to a press release from Richardson’s office.
“Matt Chandler proved through his decisive election that the people want him to begin serving as District Attorney as soon as possible,” Richardson said. “I am confident that he will be an effective D.A. who will protect the citizens of the 9th District.”
Chandler said he doesn’t know why the appointment came as late as Friday night, but noted his excitement to get started.
“We’re eager to get started. We have a lot of work to get done,” he said.