Santa Fe Community College Declared Sanctuary Campus, NM High Court Upholds Murder Conviction

Dec 1, 2016

Santa Fe Community College Declared Sanctuary CampusSanta Fe New Mexican

The governing board of the Santa Fe Community College has declared the school to be a sanctuary campus, joining a movement around the country in anticipation of harsher immigration enforcement under President-elect Donald Trump.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the board passed a resolution Wednesday that would restrict how much information is released about students’ immigration status. Campus guards will be directed not to work with immigration authorities.

The resolution would also bar federal authorities from campus if they seek to enforce immigration policies, unless they have a warrant or it’s an emergency situation.

Trump has said he will revoke the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that has allowed young immigrants brought to the country by their parents to delay deportation. He has also promised to increase deportations.

Several other universities and colleges around the country have declared themselves sanctuary campuses. There is a push by students and faculty at the University of New Mexico to follow suit.

New Mexico High Court Upholds Clovis Man's Murder ConvictionThe Associated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of a Clovis man, who was sentenced to life in prison for the 2007 killing of his mother's boyfriend.

State Attorney General Hector Balderas announced Thursday that Albert Jose Ramirez will remain in prison after the court agreed with the Office of the Attorney General Criminal Appeals Division by affirming the murder conviction.

Ramirez appealed his conviction citing seven arguments. The state Supreme Court disagreed with all of them.

He was sentenced in January 2014, three months after a Curry County jury convicted Ramirez of first-degree murder and two counts of tampering with evidence.

Ramirez was accused of going to his mother's home against a no trespass order in July 2007 and fatally shooting Eladio Robledo in the front yard.

Suspect Sentenced In Deadly Road-Rage ShootingThe Associated Press

The suspect charged in a shooting that killed a 4-year-old Albuquerque girl during what police say was a road-rage fight has been sentenced to 16 years in prison on a second-degree murder charge.

Tony Torrez apologized to the victim's family at his plea hearing Thursday, a day after he accepted a plea deal with prosecutors.

His jury trial had been scheduled to start Thursday before he agreed to the deal in the October 2015 shooting.

Alan and Veronica Garcia brought photographs of their daughter Lilly to court, with one large image of the victim smiling and wearing pink cowboy boots propped against a courtroom bench.

Through tears, Veronica Garcia recalled in court how she rushed to the hospital the day of the killing, and described the toll the shooting has taken on her family.

Pelosi Wants To Keep New Mexico Congressman As Committee ChairThe Santa Fe New Mexican

Northern New Mexico Congressman Ben Ray Luján will be nominated to continue to head the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee by Nancy Pelosi, who was re-elected yesterday as the Democratic leader of the US House.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Luján has been at the helm of committee since 2014. It’s the official campaign arm of House Democrats.  It raised about $176 million and spent $157 million for the elections.

Democrats needed an additional 30 seats in the House to take control of the chamber from the GOP, but they had a net gain of only six.

Luján was first elected to the House in 2008.  She easily won another two-year term in this year’s election.

New Mexico, Texas Activists To Hold 100 Immigrant ForumsAssociated Press

Advocates in southern New Mexico and West Texas say they will hold 100 community forums on immigrant rights from now until the inauguration of Donald Trump.

The Border Network for Human Rights and the Reform Immigration for Texas announced Wednesday the forums will be aimed at educating immigrants on their Constitutional rights and how to prepare for possible raids by federal immigration agents.

During the presidential campaign, Trump promised to end a program that gave immigrant students living in the country illegal temporary status. He also vowed to create a "deportation force" to remove immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally.

Advocacy groups all over the nation, like Chelsea Collaborative in Massachusetts, are scheduling similar forums on immigrant rights amid uncertainty over Trump's potential immigration policies.

Attorneys In Deadly Road-Rage Shooting Reach Plea Deal - By Mary Hudetz, Associated Press

The suspect accused of fatally shooting a 4-year-old Albuquerque girl during a road rage dispute with the child's father is scheduled to appear in court Thursday, with his attorneys saying he'll enter a plea to a count of second-degree murder.

Tony Torrez's attorneys say they reached a deal with prosecutors that calls for him to enter an Alford plea and accept a 16-year prison term in the death of Lilly Garcia, who was riding in her father's pickup truck when she was shot. An Alford plea means Torrez does not admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence to convict him.

Torrez had been charged with first-degree murder, which carries a life sentence. A jury trial in the high-profile case was scheduled to begin Thursday before attorneys announced they had met a Wednesday deadline for a plea agreement.

Police Oversight Board Seeks Investigation Into VideosAlbuquerque Journal

The Civilian Police Oversight Board wants independent investigations into allegations that Albuquerque police altered or deleted videos in shooting cases.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the board voted Wednesday night to request two investigations, one by either the FBI or the New Mexico State Police, and another by an independent expert.

Reynaldo Chavez, a former records custodian for the Albuquerque Police Department, said in an affidavit that APD has trained certain police units and command staff to delete, blur or corrupt video since 2013. Chavez says the department wanted to appear to record all encounters with civilians while preventing any damaging recordings from becoming public.

The members of the Police Oversight Board along with the Civilian Police Oversight Agency, review APD investigations into police shootings. That includes watching police videos.

City and police officials have said the original versions of all police videos are saved intact and any alterations have taken place on copies.

City Attorney Jessica Hernandez said the city is reviewing a list of possible independent investigators who could conduct an investigation.

New Mexico Judge Finds Public Defender In ContemptSanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

A New Mexico judge has found the state's chief public defender in contempt for failing to provide lawyers to defendants who couldn't afford them.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Lea County District Judge Gary Clingman also imposed a $1,000 fine in each of five criminal cases in which the public defender's office failed to make an appearance.

Clingman told Chief Public Defender Ben Baur that he could purge the contempt findings by following his statutory duty to represent defendants.

Baur says his agency does have that statutory duty but also has an ethical obligation to provide effective and constitutional representation.

Public Defender Commission Chairman Michael Stout wrote in a letter Tuesday that the judge's decision is the clearest consequence so far of the funding crisis facing the Law Offices of the Public Defender.

Leadership Change Comes Early At New Mexico Elections AgencyAssociated Press

New Mexico's incoming secretary of state will take office early to replace a temporary appointee to the state's top oversight post for elections and campaign finances.

The Secretary of State's Office announced Wednesday that Maggie Toulouse Oliver will take the oath of office on Dec. 9 rather than wait until the start of the new year.

Toulouse Oliver was elected as a Democrat to serve out the final two years of a term vacated by Republican Dianne Duran, who resigned in 2015 and was convicted on embezzlement and money laundering charges. Duran acknowledged violating laws she was supposed to uphold by using campaign funds to fuel a gambling spree.

Albuquerque City Councilor Brad Winter served as secretary of state for the past year under an appointment by Gov. Susana Martinez.

Former US Senator To Serve As Adviser For Land OfficeAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici says he'll be returning to New Mexico early next year and will serve as an adviser to state Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the 84-year-old Domenici made the announcement Wednesday. He has lived in the Washington, D.C.-area for years with his wife Nancy. They'll be returning to New Mexico permanently in mid-January.

As for his new role, Domenici will provide advice on energy, natural resources and other policy issues. He'll also help push Dunn's proposal to create a new permanent fund to help finance early childhood education.

Domenici, a Republican, was elected to the Senate in 1972 and served through 2008. He was chair of both the Senate budget panel and the energy and natural resources committee.

Judge Orders Suspect In Old Navy Case To Remain Behind Bars Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A federal judge has ordered that a man accused of using an explosive device to damage an Old Navy store in Albuquerque remain in jail while awaiting trial.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Magistrate Judge Karen Molzen said during a detention hearing Wednesday that prosecutors have a strong case against 28-year-old David Hickman.

Defense attorney Alonzo Padilla had requested that Hickman be released to a halfway house so he could receive counseling while awaiting trial.

The Old Navy explosion and fire Saturday morning was among several recent fires and acts vandalism that damaged multiple businesses.

Hickman has not been charged in other incidents, but the Journal reports prosecutors said during the hearing there is evidence Hickman was involved.

Eastern New Mexico University Campus Gets False AlertAssociated Press

Eastern New Mexico University in Portales says it accidentally sent a false alert of an active shooter on the 6,000-student campus.

Academic Affairs Vice President Jamie Laurenz says a university employee accidentally triggered the cellphone-based alert system Wednesday shortly after 8 a.m. but that the alert was canceled minutes later when it was determined to be a false alarm.

The false alert sent by cellphone texts and social media posts stated that there was an active shooter on campus and directed people to shelter in place and mute their cellphones.

A subsequent alert posted nine minutes pronounced the situation "all clear" and said the original alert was an "accidental button push."

Laurenz says university officials will review what happened and how.

Portales is located about 200 miles southeast of Albuquerque.