Judge Releases Taos County Compound Suspects Pending Trial

August 16

Dear Friends:

New Mexico made national headlines again this week following a District Court judge’s decision to release the Taos County compound suspects pending their trial.

Less than two weeks ago, the five suspects were arrested during a raid on a remote compound near the New Mexico-Colorado border. Eleven children, between the ages of one and fifteen, were found living in filthy conditions with very little food and water. Within days, media reports surfaced about two of the suspects’ ties to radical Islam and court documents revealed that the children were being trained to commit school shootings. Further, the body of one suspect’s 3-year-old son was found buried on the property, according to authorities.

Fast forward to this week, District Court Judge Sarah Backus, on Monday, denied a motion by the state to keep the five defendants in custody until their trial, claiming that prosecutors had failed to prove the defendants were a danger to the community.

Judge Backus’ decision quickly drew the ire of people across the state and nation. Given the evidence of child abuse and neglect, the reports of terrorist training, and the discovered remains of a deceased, kidnapped child, it is difficult to fathom the judge’s logic. Some leaders, including the Governor and a few legislators, have pointed the finger at the New Mexico Supreme Court which, according to many, has placed an unreasonably onerous burden on the state to secure pre-trial detention. Others, including officials from the Administrative Office of the Courts, have rushed to the judge’s defense. But the vast majority of people expressing opinions are extremely upset with this decision, and we can only hope that the suspects return for trial.

At Family Policy Alliance of New Mexico®, we often speak of the need to elect good legislators, governors, and other executive officials. Please add to that list, the need to elect good judges. Unlike federal judgeships that are lifetime appointments, our state Supreme Court justices, Court of Appeals judges, and District Court judges (like Judge Backus) are elected by the people and must then be retained every 6-8 years by garnering at least 57% of the vote. In 2020, Judge Backus is up for retention, and if I had to guess, the voters of the 8th Judicial District in Colfax, Taos, and Union Counties just may remember this decision when casting their vote.

Remember friends, from the White House, to the Roundhouse, to the Court House, elections have consequences and your vote is your voice! This November, please do not forget to speak up by voting for good candidates up and down the ballot.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support!


Vince Torres
President and Executive Director