NM Judge Rules Against Underfunded Public Defenders, Feds: More Wolves Surviving In The Southwest

Feb 18, 2017

New Mexico Judge Rules Against Underfunded Public Defenders—Associated Press

A state district court judge in southeastern New Mexico has rejected arguments by public defense attorneys that they are too overloaded with work to provide adequate representation to poor defendants facing jail time.

District Judge William Shoobridge of Lea County said in an order released Friday that attorneys with the Law Offices of the Public Defender have been providing reasonably competent representation to indigent defendants in the area despite financial pressures.

The order is a setback for the Office of the Public Defender as it seeks to suspend work on some indigent cases while seeking more state funding.

Chief Public Defender Bennett Baur says his office is weighing an appeal to the state Supreme Court and that he would continue to raise issues of high caseloads and lack of resources.

Feds: More Wolves Surviving In The Southwest—Associated Press

There are now more Mexican gray wolves roaming the American Southwest than at any time since the federal government began trying to reintroduce the predators nearly two decades ago.

The annual survey released Friday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows at least 113 wolves are spread between southwestern New Mexico and southeast Arizona. This is an improvement over the 97 wolves that were documented the previous year.

Federal officials say the numbers are encouraging but that more work needs to be done to ensure the population grows by about 10 percent each year.

The survey showed 50 wild-born pups survived in 2016 compared to half that the previous year.

In all, officials reported a total of 21 packs with at least 50 wolves in New Mexico and 63 wolves in Arizona.

New Mexico Bill Halting Immigration Law Enforcement Moves—Associated Press

A proposal that would prevent New Mexico law enforcement agencies from enforcing federal immigration laws has cleared a Senate hurdle.

The Senate Public Affairs Committee voted 4-2 on Friday to move the bill that would prohibit New Mexico police departments or sheriff's offices from cooperating with federal agents in deporting immigrants suspected of living in the country illegally.

The bill also would prohibit state agencies from reporting a person's immigration status or religion.

Sen. Linda Lopez, an Albuquerque Democrat, introduced the measure and said it was needed to prevent discrimination.

A similar measure is moving in the New Mexico House.

President Donald Trump campaigned on building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and promised to deploy a "deportation force."

Trump Weighs Mobilizing Nat Guard For Immigration Roundups—Associated Press

A draft memo obtained by The Associated Press outlines a Trump administration proposal under consideration to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants. Millions of those who would be affected in 11 states live nowhere near the Mexico border.

The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana. If the proposal is implemented, governors in the affected states would have final approval on whether troops under their control participate.

New Mexico Senators Seek Meeting On Immigration—Associated Press

New Mexico's two U.S. senators are seeking a meeting with federal immigration officials in hopes of clarifying whether any changes have been made in response to President Donald Trump's immigration executive orders.

Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich say they're getting reports that innocent people are being targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the wake of a push by the administration to deport immigrants who are in the country illegally.

The two Democrats also said Friday they would not support any plan to mobilize the National Guard to remove unauthorized immigrants.

The White House said the draft proposal was rejected and would not be part of pans to carry out Trump's immigration policy.

The senators say they want to determine a path forward toward what they called sensible immigration policy.

New Mexico Reconsiders Subsidies To High-Risk Insurance Pool—Associated Press

The administration of New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is seeking to shift the state's financial obligations for a group of 2,700 people with serious and expensive medical conditions onto the private health insurance market.

Legislation drafted by the administration in response to a state budget crisis would reduce tax credits and other subsidies that help underwrite New Mexico's high-risk medical insurance pool for the chronically ill.

The reforms would usher more people out of the pool and onto federally subsidized policies through the state health exchange. The Republican-sponsored bill is scheduled for discussion by lawmakers Friday in committee.

State government stands to save tens of millions of dollars, but a top insurance regulator says the changes are likely to drive up private-market insurance premiums by hundreds of dollars a year.

Authorities: Santa Fe Police Officer Hits, Kills Pedestrian—Associated Press

Authorities say a Santa Fe police officer fatally struck a pedestrian while taking a suspect to jail.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office says officer Lucas Sena hit and killed 41-year-old Francisco Navarette at an intersection along Cerrillos Road on Thursday night.

Sheriff's spokesman Juan Rios said he didn't know if Navarette was in a crosswalk.

The case is still under investigation.

Police spokesman Greg Gurule said Sena was not injured and the suspect he was transporting complained of neck pain but was OK. Gurule could not immediately say if Sena was placed on leave.

New Mexico City To Appeal Commandments Case To Supreme Court—Associated Press

A New Mexico city will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal of a lower court ruling requiring the removal of a Ten Commandments monument outside City Hall.

The Daily Times reports that Bloomfield city councilors voted to appeal the case to the nation's highest court after a closed session Monday night.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th circuit left in place a lower court ruling that concluded that the Christian monument violates the Constitution's prohibition on the government endorsing a religion.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the 2012 lawsuit on behalf of two Bloomfield residents who objected to the monument.

ACLU attorney Andrew Schultz said he doesn't expect the Supreme Court to consider the case and, if it does, he thinks it will rule against the city.