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Gessing: Accidental Criminals - Why New Mexico Needs 'Mens Rea' (Criminal Intent) Reform

on May 23, 2016 - 8:10am
By PAUL GESSING, President
Rio Grande Foundation

ALBUQUERQUE – New Mexico could make significant improvements to its criminal justice system by embracing a common-law principle called mens rea.

A new Rio Grande Foundation paper describes in detail why the New Mexico Legislature should embrace the principle of “guilty conscience” in criminal justice. As described by Roscoe Pound, the dean of Harvard Law School from 1916 to 1936: “Historically, our substantive criminal law is based upon a theory of punishing the vicious will.

Probate Judge Bill McKerley Tenders Resignation

on May 20, 2016 - 8:35pm

Probate Judge Bill McKerley

Staff Report:

Los Alamos County Probate Judge Bill McKerley has submitted his resignation from that office as recent changes to the Code of Judicial Conduct make the office incompatible with his role as chair of the local Republican Party.

As a result of the resignation of prior Probate Judge Christine Chandler, the office of Los Alamos County Probate judge was included in the Governor's call for the general election.

District Attorney Addresses Los Alamos County Council

on May 17, 2016 - 6:23pm

 First Judicial District Attorney Jennifer Padgett is addressing the Los Alamos County Council this evening at the White Rock Fire Station. Padgett explained that her office has approximately 75 employees and a budget of $5.8 million. She was recently appointed to the post by Gov. Susana Martinez to fill a vacancy left by Angela Spence Pacheco who retired. Padgett, who is seeking election to the position said no matter what happens in the June Primary Election she will serve for a year so she is interested in learning the needs and issues of each community. Photo by Carol A.

Readers View: Why There Is Only One Choice For District Attorney

on May 16, 2016 - 8:07am
Readers View
Los Alamos

With the craziness at the national level and so much focus on our legislative races, it is easy to forget about some of the crucial down ballot races happening.

Although my political consulting firm is not representing Maria Sanchez-Gagne's campaign, I am personally endorsing her for District Attorney and am asking for a moment of your time to explain why she deserves your support as well.

Maria Sanchez-Gagne

With a district that spans the counties of Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and Santa Fe - experience is beyond critical.

Officials Participate In Community Safety Town Hall

on May 7, 2016 - 11:01am

Community Safety Town Hall panel members from left, Municipal Judge Alan Kirk, Dist. 43 Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, LAPD Chief Dino Sgambellone, District Attorney Jennifer Padgett and Los Alamos County Deputy Sheriff John Horne with facilitator Bill Wadt discussing community safety issues during Thursday's event at UNM-LA. Courtesy photo

Los Alamos County Magistrate Judge Pat Casados at Thursday's Community Safety Town Hall meeting at UNM-LA. Courtesy photo

Municipal Judge Alan Kirk and Dist. 43 Rep.

Law Day Op-Ed By Supreme Court Chief Justice Daniels

on May 2, 2016 - 12:26pm
By Chief Justice Charles W. Daniels
New Mexico Supreme Court
As we celebrate national Law Day on May 1 and Juror Appreciation Week in New Mexico, I would like to recognize the vital role each citizen plays in preserving the rule of law by serving on juries in our state courts.
New Mexico courts each year summon about 10 percent of the state’s adult population to participate in jury service. Along with the ballot box, the jury box is one of the two most direct forms of citizen participation in our system of self-government.
The New Mexico and United States constitutions guarantee the right to a

FBI And Law Enforcement Partners Target Prison Gang In New Mexico - Seek Three Fugitives

on April 30, 2016 - 9:16am

FBI News:

A team of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers Thursday executed 22 arrest warrants (21 federal, one state) and search warrants on eight residences in connection with an operation targeting the Syndicato de Nuevo Mexico (SNM) Prison Gang.

Nine individuals were arrested by teams composed of Albuquerque and El Paso FBI SWAT teams, U.S. Marshals Service, and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team. Another 10 defendants were transferred from the custody of the New Mexico Department of Corrections to the U.S. Marshals Service.

Three individuals remain at large

Attorney Philip J. Dabney Joins Reid Griffith’s Law Firm

on April 28, 2016 - 9:53pm
Attorneys Reid Griffith, left, and Philip J. Dabney stop by the Los Alamos Daily Post in downtown Los Alamos recently to discuss their joining forces to help clients. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ 
Los Alamos Daily Post
Attorney Philip J. Dabney practiced law in Las Vegas, Nev., for 30 years but after marrying a Los Alamos woman he moved to town and last month joined the local law firm of P. Reid Griffith, PA.
“Since marrying Liz, I’ve continued to wind down my practice in Nevada and am excited to be working with Reid who has practiced in Los Alamos for decades and

Los Alamos Town Hall Targets Community Safety

on April 26, 2016 - 10:04am

First Judicial District Attorney Jennifer Padgett


First Judicial District Attorney Jennifer Padgett is hosting a Town Hall Meeting facilitated by Bill Wadt that targets community safety issues.

“Every community in the First Judicial District has unique public safety considerations. Since becoming your District Attorney I have received calls from the Los Alamos community voicing their growing concern about public safety,” Padgett said.

Report: 10 Percent Of New Mexico Kids Have Had Incarcerated Parent

on April 25, 2016 - 9:55am


Stress of incarceration contributes to child poverty, homelessness, hunger

ALBUQUERQUE—More than 5 million children in the United States have had a parent incarcerated at some point in their lives, including 52,000 kids in New Mexico—10 percent of New Mexico’s child population—according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

New Mexico’s percentage of children with incarcerated parents is not only higher than the national average of 7 percent, but only two states—Indiana (11 percent) and Kentucky (13 percent)—have higher rates than New Mexico.

State Fines Local GOP For Failure To File Reports

on April 20, 2016 - 6:16pm

RPLA Chair Bill McKerley


Los Alamos Daily Post

The Office of the New Mexico Secretary of State has levied penalties of more than $5,000 against the Republican Party of Los Alamos County for failure to file financial reports.

Kenneth Ortiz of the Secretary of State's Office told the Los Alamos Daily Post that the local party has not filed the required financial reports for the reporting period due last October and those due earlier this month.

Governor Announces Program To Monitor Outcome Of DWI Cases In New Mexico’s Courts

on April 20, 2016 - 4:45pm
Gov. Susana Martinez
ALBUQUERQUE — Gov. Susana Martinez has announced that an RFP has been awarded to Mothers Against Drunk Driving for an initiative that will place monitors in certain courtrooms across the state to watch the DWI adjudication process and provide information to the public about how those cases are being handled. 
The monitors will attend DWI hearings in person and compile reports on how judges and others involved in the legal process are dealing with drunk drivers. The program is part of the Governor’s executive initiatives to fight DWI.
“Too many lives have been

DA Dismisses Charges Against Jordan Redmond

on April 20, 2016 - 3:34pm
Former LAPD Sgt. Jordan Redmond
Los Alamos Daily Post
The District Attorney's Office has dismissed the charges Tuesday against former Los Alamos Police Sgt. Jordan Redmond. The charges were dismissed with prejudice, which means the case cannot be re-filed.

Redmond, 33, was arrested Oct. 8 and charged under the Governmental Conduct Act, section, Honoraria prohibited, for accepting money for conducting a public duty as a police officer.

Espanola Tax Preparer Deborah Quintana Indicted For Tax Fraud And Tax Evasion

on April 14, 2016 - 9:32am


SANTA FE – A tax preparer from Espanola has been indicted for filing false tax returns and failing to pay taxes.

Deborah Quintana, 58, was charged with 28 counts of Tax Fraud and eight counts of Attempting to Evade or Defeat Tax, all felonies. These charges carry a maximum sentence of 55.5 years in prison and a $180,000 fine.

Quintana was indicted by a Santa Fe Grand Jury in the First Judicial District of New Mexico.

“With tax season upon us, this case should serve as a reminder to tax professionals across the state; if you cheat the system, you will be held accountable,”

Court Of Appeals Celebrates 50 Years

on March 31, 2016 - 2:07pm
Judge Michael Bustamante
By Judges Michael D. Bustamante and M. Monica Zamora,
New Mexico Court of Appeals
Today is the 50th anniversary of the creation of the New Mexico Court of Appeals. In 1965, the State Legislature approved a proposed constitutional amendment to create an intermediate court of appeals. The Legislature acted because the State Supreme Court’s burgeoning case load was resulting in unacceptable delays in the disposition of appeals. Voters overwhelmingly approved the amendment in a special election on September 28, 1965.
The Legislature funded the new court in 1966,

Appointed Probate Judge Bill McKerley Seeks Election

on March 31, 2016 - 1:18pm
Republican Candidate
Los Alamos County Probate Judge
I am Bill McKerley and I am a candidate for the position of Probate Judge for Los Alamos County. Before I tell you a little bit about me and why I am a candidate, I thought it might be informative to say a few words about probate and the function of the Probate Judge.
Probate is the judicial process for transferring the property of a person who has died (called decedent). The property is transferred according to either: (1) the decedent's Will, or (2) if the decedent dies without a Will, according to New Mexico's

Balderas Announces $605,000 In Judgements Against Brothers In Meth Money Laundering Case

on March 30, 2016 - 7:20am
Joe Chavez. Courtesy photo
ALAMOGORDO Attorney General Hector Balderas has announced that an Alamogordo judge, the Honorable James W. Counts, assessed $605,000 in penalties against brothers Joe and Robert Chavez, nicknamed “the AZ Boys”, who ran a meth-trafficking operation between New Mexico and Arizona.
In 2014, both were convicted at trial of felonies including racketeering, conspiracy, drug trafficking, and multiple counts each of money laundering.

National Security And Export Controls – A Conversation With Eric Hirschhorn April 14

on March 28, 2016 - 7:47am
CIR News:
The Council on International Relations and Congregation Beit Tikva are pleased to present Eric L. Hirschhorn, Under Secretary of the U.S. Commerce Department for the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) at 5 p.m., Thursday, April 14  at Congregation Beit Tikva, 2230 Old Pecos Trail in Santa Fe.
Hirschhorn’s talk is entitled, “National Security and Export Controls.” Cost is $20 for non-members; $15 for CIR members.
The discussion (with moderator John Liebman) will focus on current challenges and tools for limiting the loss of valuable U.S.

Court Of Appeals To Hold Hearing At Laguna-Acoma High School

on March 10, 2016 - 7:56am
ALBUQUERQUE  Students at Laguna-Acoma High School will have an opportunity today to better understand New Mexico’s judicial system when the Court of Appeals hears arguments at the school in a criminal case.

Students in grades 9-12 at this school, about 50 miles west of Albuquerque, will be able to watch as lawyers appear before a panel of three judges in a case involving an Albuquerque man appealing his conviction on drug charges. After the arguments, judges will take questions from students.

The Court of Appeals is not a trial court and there will be no witnesses testifying.

Bill McKerley Files For Los Alamos County Probate Judge

on March 8, 2016 - 5:01pm

Appointed Los Alamos County Probate Judge Bill McKerley just filed for the position with four minutes to spare as the cut-off time is 5 p.m. today in the County Clerk's Office. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

Frivolous Tax Arguments Completes IRS 'Dirty Dozen' List Of Tax Scams For 2016 Filing Season

on March 5, 2016 - 5:08am
IRS News:
PHOENIX  The Internal Revenue Service finished its 2016 “Dirty Dozen” tax scams list by warning taxpayers against using frivolous tax arguments to avoid paying their taxes.
Also, the IRS released the 2016 version of “The Truth about Frivolous Tax Arguments.” The document describes and responds to some of the common frivolous tax arguments made by those who oppose compliance with federal tax laws.
Examples include contentions that taxpayers can refuse to pay taxes on religious or moral grounds by invoking the First Amendment.

Gov. Appoints VanDenzen Chief Hearing Officer

on March 5, 2016 - 4:59am
SANTA FE — Gov. Martinez has announced the appointment of Brian VanDenzen as chief hearing officer for the Administrative Hearings Office.
VanDenzen spent four years in both public and private legal practice, and the last ten years of his career as a tax hearing officer at the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department. Since 2014, he has served as interim chief hearing officer, overseeing both the hearings bureau and the administrative hearings office.
As part of the Governor’s continuing efforts to make New Mexico more business friendly, independent hearing officers

Former Officers Of New Mexico-Based Defense Contractor Plead Guilty To Criminal Charges Relating To Iraq Rebuilding Efforts

on March 2, 2016 - 2:39pm
FBI News:
ALBUQUERQUE  Two former officers of a New Mexico-based defense contracting firm pleaded guilty Feb. 26, 2016, to criminal charges arising out of their involvement in a scheme to solicit and accept kickbacks in return for favorable treatment in awarding subcontracts relating to wartime rebuilding projects in Iraq. 
Neal Kasper, 66, of Montana, and his wife Tiffany White, 49, of Cibolo, Texas, entered their guilty pleas in federal court in Albuquerque.

Animal Legal Defense Fund Files Complaint With USDA

on March 1, 2016 - 6:29am
ALDF News:
ALBUQUERQUE  After receiving a series of complaints from individuals who adopted from and/or visited McIntoch’s Southern Roc puppy mill, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) sent an undercover investigator who captured video, which confirm the allegations.
The ALDF filed a complaint against the breeder with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) identifying numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) readily visible in video footage taken on their premise. 
Southern Roc, which is operated by Southern Sollars, does not meet the minimum standards of care laid