KUNM

ACLU Warns Lawmakers Against 'Iron Justice,' National Park Focuses On Manhattan Project

Nov 11, 2015

ACLU Urges 'Smart Justice' On New Mexico Public Safety Bills Associated Press

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico is urging state lawmakers to think through various public safety proposals and consider their possible effects on civil rights.

ACLU-NM executive director Peter Simonson said the state needs "smart justice, not iron justice" as lawmakers promise to introduce all sorts of criminal justice legislation. Lawmakers are proposing bills that range from creating tougher penalties for most violent crimes to allowing cities to impose curfews targeting teens.

Simonson says proposals like the strengthening New Mexico's "three strikes" law may contribute to prison overcrowding and lead to potential civil right violations.

He also says curfew laws passed by cities would likely be deemed unconstitutional even if lawmakers pass a bill.

The public safety proposals come amid a number of high-profile crimes linked to repeat offenders.

Navajo Nation Opens San Juan River For LivestockThe Associated Press & The Gallup Independent

Livestock will again be able to use the San Juan River now that Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye says the river is safe again.

Watering activity was suspended in the wake of the Gold King Mine spill in southern Colorado in August.

The Gallup Independent reports that the Navajo Environmental Protection Agency Water Quality Program advised the president that the river was safe for livestock based on samples collected from the river.

Officials are monitoring the river for potential long-term effects of the mine waste. Testing in August found heavy metals in the water that were at levels above what is recommended for humans or livestock.

New Mexico Community Marks Opening Of Manhattan Project ParkThe Associated Press

Residents of a once secret government city in northern New Mexico are marking the beginnings of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park with the opening of a visitor center.

A crowd of Los Alamos County elected leaders, military veterans, history buffs and officials with the National Park Service and Los Alamos National Laboratory gathered outside the new visitor center for an unveiling ceremony Wednesday.

The event follows a signing ceremony in Washington, D.C., that established the park at sites in New Mexico, Washington and Tennessee.

Federal officials say the goal is to preserve the places where the atomic bomb was developed and share the stories of the scientists, soldiers and communities that were involved in the top secret work.

Events also were being held this week at the other sites.

Veterans Day Memory: Navajo Code Talker Recalls Role In WWII The Associated Press

Roy Hawthorne recalls his time served during World War II with pride, effortlessly sharing his native Navajo language as he shows off how he used codes to trick the Japanese.

The 89-year-old Hawthorne served as a Navajo code talker with the U.S. Marine Corps from 1943 to 1945, hopping from island to island across the South Pacific as U.S. troops fought their way toward Japan.

He recalled his service during an interview in Window Rock, Arizona, before the nation paused to commemorate Veterans Day.

Hawthorne was one of several hundred code talkers who joined the war effort to help stymie the Japanese by using Navajo words and letters transmitted over radios instead of traditional codes that the enemy continued to crack.

Officials credit the Navajo for playing a hugely vital role in combat along with some other tribes that used their native languages during wartime.

State High Court To Review Timeline For Criminal CasesThe Associated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court will consider proposed changes to rules it set for Bernalillo County this year to help expedite criminal cases.

The court imposed rules in February to force the busy 2nd Judicial District Court to work through its backlog. The Supreme Court required prosecutors to share evidence upon which charges are based with defense lawyers at the time of arraignment, which can happen several days after an arrest. The cases must then be completed in 6 to 12 months.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the Bernalillo County Criminal Justice Oversight Committee has proposed changes to the rule that include doubling the time for police to provide initial evidence to prosecutors in some cases.

Correction: This story corrects stories from Nov. 11 and Oct. 27 when the Associated Press reported, and KUNM broadcast, inaccurate information about the timing of arraignments. The rules in question call for arraignments within 7 to 10 business days – depending on whether the accused person is in jail - not the 48 hours originally reported. We regret the error.

Navajo Technical University Expands Distance Education Associated Press

Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint has been awarded nearly $450,000 in federal funds to expand opportunities for education on the vast reservation.

The grant for distance learning in telemedicine comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

The department's state director in New Mexico, Terry Brunner, and university President Elmer Guy will be part of a celebration Thursday for the upcoming distance learning center.

The center will use telecommunications technology to offer courses to people in remote areas.

Board Votes To Reinstate A Fired Albuquerque Police OfficerThe Associated Press

A city personnel board has voted to reinstate an Albuquerque police officer who was fired 11 months ago for abusing lapel camera policies.

The board voted 3-2 Tuesday to reinstate Jeremy Dear.

Dear came under public scrutiny when he fatally shot a 19-year-old car thief suspect in April 2014. His on-body camera was unplugged at the time and didn't make a recording.

Police officials call the board's ruling unacceptable and say Chief Gorden Eden will work with the City Attorney to appeal the decision.

Board chairman Lee Peifer says there's no evidence that Dear didn't use his camera more or less than other officers on the force.

Dear says he didn't feel he got proper training on the camera and had technical issues with the camera and the uploading system.

New National Park Marks Development Of Nuclear BombAssociated Press

More than 70 years ago scientists working in secret created the atomic bomb that ended World War II and ushered the world into the nuclear age.

On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz formally established the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, as they sat in a federal building near the White House where plans for the bomb were developed.

The park preserves three sites where work on the bomb was completed: Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Hanford, Washington; and Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Jewell and Moniz say the park will not glorify war or nuclear weapons. It will tell the story of the three important historical sites and bring greater awareness of the development of nuclear energy and weapons to a worldwide audience.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that a ceremony marking the opening of the park will take place today at 10 a.m. in Los Alamos. Several anti-nuclear activist say they will also be on hand.

Greg Mello with the Los Alamos Study group sent out a call for people to attend the ceremony dressed in funeral garb. The New Mexican reports Mello would prefer the park become a site of enduring protest.

Lawsuit: FBI Raided New Mexico Home With Sleeping ChildrenAssociated Press

A new federal lawsuit says FBI agents used military-grade stun grenades against three sleeping children during a 2013 pre-dawn raid of a New Mexico home.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque this week alleges that agents blindly detonated multiple explosive devices during the raid, inflicting shrapnel wounds and severe emotional trauma against the children.

The lawsuit says the children were ages 9, 10, and 12 at the time.

According to court documents, FBI agents were investigating the children's father, Abel Romero Sr., who federal authorities suspected of being a drug dealer in Anthony, New Mexico.

Attorney Richard Rosenstock says the raid was cruel and reckless.

FBI spokesman Frank Fisher says he is looking into the lawsuit but the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation.

Board Votes To Reinstate A Fired Albuquerque Police OfficerAssociated Press

A city personnel board has voted to reinstate an Albuquerque police officer who was fired 11 months ago for abusing lapel camera policies.

The board voted 3-2 Tuesday to reinstate Jeremy Dear.

Dear came under public scrutiny when he fatally shot a 19-year-old car thief suspect in April 2014. His on-body camera was unplugged at the time and didn't make a recording.

Police officials call the board's ruling unacceptable and say Chief Gorden Eden will work with the City Attorney to appeal the decision.

Board chairman Lee Peifer says there's no evidence that Dear didn't use his camera more or less than other officers on the force.

Dear says he didn't feel he got proper training on the camera and had technical issues with the camera and the uploading system.

NM Stepfather Sentenced For Abusing 9-Year-Old, Other Crimes Associated Press

A New Mexico stepfather has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for child abuse and other crimes stemming from the case of a 9-year-old boy whose beating death led to calls for reform in the state child welfare system.

Before he was sentenced Tuesday, Stephen Casaus acknowledged mistakes in his life but said "child abuse was not one of them."

He was convicted in September of charges that included child abuse, tampering with evidence and intimidation of a witness in connection with the case of his stepson.

Jurors also ruled Casaus acted with reckless disregard on the day Omaree Varela died in December 2013.

Omaree's mother is charged with child abuse resulting in death.

Court records say a hearing on her competency to stand trial that had been set for Monday will be rescheduled.

Suit Says Woman Died After Receiving 10 Times Ordered Dose Of DrugAlbuquerque Journal

A lawsuit against a Santa Fe hospital contends a woman died after receiving 10 times the amount of a medication ordered by a doctor.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Rachel Cox entered Christus St. Vincent Medical Center with a swollen lip. The suit alleges a doctor ordered .3 milligrams of epinephrine, but instead a nurse administered 3 milligrams.

Cox went into respiratory and cardiac arrest. She was transferred to University of Colorado Hospital in Denver and died four days later.

The suit names the hospital and the emergency room nurse as defendants. Spokesman Arturo Delgado said “Our hearts go out to anyone that experiences the loss of a loved one, but we can’t comment on pending litigation.”