Monday News Roundup: Lawsuit: NM Attorney Fired After Audit Complaint

Sep 2, 2013

Lawsuit: NM Attorney Fired After Audit Complaint - Associated Press and the Santa Fe New Mexican

A lawyer fired by the state Human Services Department says she was let go because of her criticism of an audit of government-funded mental health care.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Elizabeth Jeffreys says in a lawsuit against the department that her firing was in retaliation for her complaints to the state Attorney General's Office and the State Auditor's Office months before the audit. That audit resulted in a shake-up in the state's mental health system.

A department spokesman said Friday he couldn't comment on the lawsuit because it is pending litigation.

The department in June froze payments to 15 nonprofits that provide mental health and substance abuse services after an audit found what the agency said was a high rate of billing problems and possible mismanagement.

NM Court Overrules Precedent On Pretrial Rights - Associated Press

New Mexico's highest court has ruled that defendants don't have a constitutional right to confront and question witnesses providing testimony against them at pretrial hearings.

The state Supreme Court's decision overruled a legal precedent on the question set by the justices in 1969.

The court said last week the constitution's confrontation right applies only to criminal trials, which determine whether a defendant is guilty, and not to pretrial hearings that decide whether there's probable cause a crime has been committed and a case should go to trial.

The court rejected arguments by a man charged with drug offenses who contended his rights were violated because a drug report was admitted as evidence during a preliminary hearing without allowing him to cross-examine the laboratory analyst who prepared the report.

Albuquerque Joins Protests On Syria - Associated Press and The Albuquerque Journal

A small group of protesters in Albuquerque joined worldwide rallies against a possible U.S.-led attack on Syria.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that around 70 or so protesters took part in a rally Saturday in Albuquerque's Nob Hill neighborhood.

The protest was organized with the help of multiple activist organizations in the city, including the Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center.

No arrests were reported.

Protesters around the world took to the streets to protest Saturday for and against an attack on Syria amid allegations of chemical weapon use.

President Barack Obama announced he would seek congressional approval for such a move.

Los Alamos Police Chief Candidates Down To 5 - Associated Press and The Los Alamos Monitor

The list of candidates for Los Alamos police chief has been reduced to five.

The Los Alamos Monitor reports that County Administrator Harry Burgess officials have narrowed the list of candidates and will begin final interviews later this month.

He says the candidates will be interviewed by three panels.

Officials narrowed it down to five through limited background inquires as well as a detailed review of all the materials they were asked to submit, including applications and resumes.

In June, Los Alamos Police Chief Wayne Torpy announced his retirement after he suffered a stroke.

Chaco Culture Park Gets 'Dark Sky' Designation - Associated Press

Chaco Culture National Historical Park has earned another international designation: the refuge of dark night skies.

The International Dark-Sky Association recently certified the park, known for its monumental ancient buildings, as an International Dark Sky Park.

Officials say the park's natural nighttime darkness, commitment to reducing light pollution, and ongoing public outreach recently led to its certification.

The park is the twelfth to receive the designation worldwide and only the fourth unit of the U.S. National Park System.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park started its bid to become an IDA International Dark Sky Park in response to the National Park Service initiative, "Starry, Starry Night."