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DA’s Office Files Bar Complaint on Its Own Former Prosecutor

by Anthony Accurso

The Santa Fe, New Mexico, District Attorney’s Office submitted a formal complaint to the state’s Bar Association alleging that former prosecutor Jason Lidyard (who is now a district court judge) intentionally withheld exculpatory evidence in a murder case.

Lidyard was assigned to the case against Caleb Calandro, who was charged with first-degree murder for shooting Rustin Radcliffe in a downtown Santa Fe parking lot in December 2016.

Lidyard was appointed as a judge midway through prosecuting the case in March 2018.

Assistant District Attorney Blake Nichols was assigned to the case in August 2018 and received a box with Calandro’s case files the following October. Inside was a packet marked “DO NOT DISCLOSE,” which contained a police report where Radcliffe was accused of beating a man so badly that the victim required hospitalization.

Nichols immediately forwarded this packet to Calandro’s counsel, Thomas M. Clark, who confirmed he had not previously received it.

In May 2019 when Nichols was preparing for trial, Nichols had interns review the entire file to make sure all relevant information had been disclosed to the defense, and the interns located more reports where Radcliffe was suspected of, or charged with, other violent crimes. These reports, too, were forwarded to Calandro’s counsel.

The DA’s office eventually offered a plea deal to Calandro where he would receive a four-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter. At sentencing, attorney Clark said Radcliffe had threatened to rob Calandro at knifepoint, so Calandro had shot him in self-defense.

An article from ProsecutorialAccountability.com noted that New Mexico is unusual in that the state bar rules require the DA’s office to file this complaint once it became aware of Lidyard’s misconduct. It also mentioned that the DA’s office released a copy of the complaint to the Albuquerque Journal, an action not required by the state bar rules. 

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Sources: abqjournal.com, prosecutorialaccountability.com

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