Posted at: 11/06/2012 11:04 PM
By: Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico voters have approved a constitutional amendment that establishes the Public Defender Department as an independent state agency.
The department provides lawyers to represent people charged with crimes who can't afford a private attorney.
The amendment calls for forming an independent commission that would appoint the state's chief public defender, who would then oversee the department. Currently, the governor appoints the chief public defender.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union were among the supporters. Their contributions helped fund a series of online and newspaper ads, billboards and radio spots.
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