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The New Mexico Supreme Court affirmed Defendant Juan Galindo’s convictions for child abuse resulting in the death of his twenty-eight-day-old daughter (Baby) and his convictions for two counts of aggravated criminal sexual penetration (CSP) of Baby. The Court also affirmed Defendant’s convictions for child abuse against his thirteen-year-old daughter, B.G., for endangering her emotional health. In addition, the Court held the district court properly admitted into evidence a statement that Defendant gave to law enforcement on the night of Baby’s death, as well as photographic evidence revealing the extensive injuries Baby suffered, including fatal, blunt-force trauma to her head and multiple internal and external injuries to her genital and anal areas. The case was remanded for resentencing in light of Defendant’s duplicative convictions of child abuse resulting in Baby’s death and of child abuse against B.G. View "New Mexico v. Galindo" on Justia Law

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Paul Fairchild Jr. asked the district court to grant summary judgment on his cross-claims against Defendants Richard Love and R.H. Love Galleries, Inc. (collectively Love) on the ground that Love failed to timely file a response to Fairchild’s motion for summary judgment and was therefore “in default.” Jerald Freeman, The Tea Leaf, Inc., and Thomas Nygard, Inc. (collectively Plaintiffs) jointly owned a painting by Albert Bierstadt they purchased for $180,000. In October 2002, three transactions involving the Bierstadt painting occurred in quick succession: (1) Freeman agreed on behalf of Plaintiffs to sell the painting to Paul Benisek for $240,000, to be paid in twelve monthly installments; (2) Benisek agreed to sell the painting to Love for $300,000, also to be paid in twelve monthly installments; and (3) Love sold the painting to Fairchild for $375,000, which Fairchild paid in full with a combination of cash and the trade-in of three other pieces of artwork. In accordance with their respective agreements, Love made several payments to Benisek, and Benisek made several payments to Freeman. But in spring 2003, Love experienced financial trouble and stopped making payments to Benisek, who in turn stopped making payments to Freeman. Meanwhile, Fairchild consigned the Bierstadt painting for sale at a gallery in New York City. Freeman, who had not received full payment from Benisek, became aware that the New York gallery was attempting to sell the Bierstadt painting and asked the gallery to ship the painting to Santa Fe for inspection. Freeman obtained possession of the Bierstadt painting and refused to return it to the gallery. Love, whose counsel had withdrawn while his motion was pending, explained that he lacked legal representation and had been experiencing health problems, and he requested an opportunity to submit a late response. The district court did not allow Love additional time to respond and granted Fairchild’s motion for summary judgment without considering whether Fairchild had established a prima facie case for summary judgment under Rule 1-056 NMRA. After review, the New Mexico Supreme Court held the district court erred by granting summary judgment: “Prior to granting an uncontested motion for summary judgment, the district court must assess whether the moving party has demonstrated that no genuine issue of material fact exists ‘and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.’” The Court of Appeals erred in its application of the right-for-any-reason doctrine to affirm the district court. The Supreme Court reversed the summary judgment order and vacated the resulting award of damages, and the case was remanded to the district court with instructions to permit Love to file a response to Fairchild’s motion for summary judgment and for further proceedings. View "Freeman v. Fairchild" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Natalie Garcia (née Watkins), sued her former employer, Defendant Hatch Valley Public Schools (HVPS), for employment discrimination under the New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA). Plaintiff alleged that HVPS terminated her employment as a school bus driver based on her national origin, which she described as “German” and “NOT Hispanic.” HVPS successfully moved for summary judgment in the district court, and the Court of Appeals reversed, focusing on Plaintiff’s “primary contention” that HVPS had discriminated against her and terminated her employment because she was not Hispanic. The New Mexico Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals, holding that summary judgment in HVPS' favor was appropriate because Plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination and failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact about whether HVPS’ asserted reason for terminating her employment was pretextual. In so holding, the Court also concluded: (1) the Court of Appeals properly focused on Plaintiff’s contention that she was not Hispanic in analyzing her discrimination claim; (2) Plaintiff could claim discrimination under the NMHRA as a non-Hispanic; and (3) the plain language of the NMHRA did not place a heightened evidentiary burden on a plaintiff in a "reverse" discrimination case. View "Garcia v. Hatch Valley Pub. Schs." on Justia Law

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Defendant Shanah Chadwick-McNally was charged with an open count of first-degree murder and faced a potential sentence of life without the possibility of release or parole (LWOP). She argued in this interlocutory appeal that, due to her possible LWOP sentence, she had to be afforded the heightened procedural protections that applied when the State sought the death penalty. The New Mexico Supreme Court held that death penalty procedures did not apply in this case for the simple reason that “[t]he extraordinary penalty of death” was not implicated. View "New Mexico v. Chadwick-McNally" on Justia Law

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Defendant Shanah Chadwick-McNally was charged with an open count of first-degree murder and faced a potential sentence of life without the possibility of release or parole (LWOP). She argued in this interlocutory appeal that, due to her possible LWOP sentence, she had to be afforded the heightened procedural protections that applied when the State sought the death penalty. The New Mexico Supreme Court held that death penalty procedures did not apply in this case for the simple reason that “[t]he extraordinary penalty of death” was not implicated. View "New Mexico v. Chadwick-McNally" on Justia Law

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In an issue of first impression, the New Mexico Supreme Court addressed an issue of whether evidence of non-violent crimes committed in the presence of a police officer after an unconstitutional traffic stop had to be suppressed under the Fourth Amendment of the federal Constitution and Article II, Section 10 of the New Mexico Constitution. Defendant Edward Tapia, Sr. entered a conditional plea of guilty to one count of forgery, for signing his brother’s name to a traffic citation charging failure to wear a seat belt in a motor vehicle, and reserved his right to appeal. The Court of Appeals reversed his conviction, finding that the initial stop was illegal, and the subsequent evidence of concealing identity and forgery was not sufficiently removed from the taint of the illegal stop to justify admitting that evidence. The Supreme Court held the new crime exception to the exclusionary rule may apply to both violent and non-violent crimes committed in response to unlawful police action. Defendant’s attempts to conceal his identity after the unlawful traffic stop sufficiently purged the taint of the initial illegality so as to render the exclusionary rule inapplicable under both the Fourth Amendment and Article II, Section 10 of the New Mexico Constitution. The evidence of the seat belt violation obtained as a direct result of the unlawful stop was correctly suppressed. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals was reversed Defendant’s conviction reinstated. View "New Mexico v. Tapia" on Justia Law

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In an issue of first impression, the New Mexico Supreme Court addressed an issue of whether evidence of non-violent crimes committed in the presence of a police officer after an unconstitutional traffic stop had to be suppressed under the Fourth Amendment of the federal Constitution and Article II, Section 10 of the New Mexico Constitution. Defendant Edward Tapia, Sr. entered a conditional plea of guilty to one count of forgery, for signing his brother’s name to a traffic citation charging failure to wear a seat belt in a motor vehicle, and reserved his right to appeal. The Court of Appeals reversed his conviction, finding that the initial stop was illegal, and the subsequent evidence of concealing identity and forgery was not sufficiently removed from the taint of the illegal stop to justify admitting that evidence. The Supreme Court held the new crime exception to the exclusionary rule may apply to both violent and non-violent crimes committed in response to unlawful police action. Defendant’s attempts to conceal his identity after the unlawful traffic stop sufficiently purged the taint of the initial illegality so as to render the exclusionary rule inapplicable under both the Fourth Amendment and Article II, Section 10 of the New Mexico Constitution. The evidence of the seat belt violation obtained as a direct result of the unlawful stop was correctly suppressed. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals was reversed Defendant’s conviction reinstated. View "New Mexico v. Tapia" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the New Mexico Supreme Court's review centered on: (1) whether the arresting officer denied Defendant Stefan Chakerian the right to an independent chemical test in addition to one administered by police when arrested for driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor (DWI) when the officer provided Defendant with a telephone and telephone directory, but took no additional steps to help Defendant arrange for the test; and (2) what role law enforcement officers have after an arrestee expresses a desire for an additional test under Section 66-8-109(B). The Court of Appeals held that Section 66-8-109(B) required law enforcement to “meaningfully cooperate” with an arrestee who desired to obtain an additional chemical test, and reversed Defendant’s DWI conviction. The Supreme Court held Section 66-8-109(B) required law enforcement to advise an arrestee of the arrestee’s right to be given an opportunity to arrange for a qualified person of the arrestee’s own choosing to perform a chemical test in addition to any test performed at the direction of the arresting officer. This section does not, however, confer any additional obligation on law enforcement to facilitate the arrestee in actually arranging for the test. Accordingly, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals and affirmed the metropolitan court convictions of DWI and speeding. View "New Mexico v. Chakerian" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the New Mexico Supreme Court's review centered on: (1) whether the arresting officer denied Defendant Stefan Chakerian the right to an independent chemical test in addition to one administered by police when arrested for driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor (DWI) when the officer provided Defendant with a telephone and telephone directory, but took no additional steps to help Defendant arrange for the test; and (2) what role law enforcement officers have after an arrestee expresses a desire for an additional test under Section 66-8-109(B). The Court of Appeals held that Section 66-8-109(B) required law enforcement to “meaningfully cooperate” with an arrestee who desired to obtain an additional chemical test, and reversed Defendant’s DWI conviction. The Supreme Court held Section 66-8-109(B) required law enforcement to advise an arrestee of the arrestee’s right to be given an opportunity to arrange for a qualified person of the arrestee’s own choosing to perform a chemical test in addition to any test performed at the direction of the arresting officer. This section does not, however, confer any additional obligation on law enforcement to facilitate the arrestee in actually arranging for the test. Accordingly, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals and affirmed the metropolitan court convictions of DWI and speeding. View "New Mexico v. Chakerian" on Justia Law

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Enduro Operating, LLC and Echo Production, Inc. were two of several parties to a joint operating agreement (JOA). Under the JOA, Echo, as a party wishing to undertake a new drilling project, had to provide notice of the proposed project to the other parties to the JOA, who then had thirty days to decide whether to opt in or out of the project. By opting in, a party agreed to share in the cost and risk of the project. If a party opted out of the project (as Enduro did in this case), then the party was deemed “non-consenting,” and exempt from any of the cost or risk associated with the new project, but could not share in any of the profits from the new project until the consenting parties recovered four-hundred percent of the labor and equipment costs invested in the new project. The question before us is what activities are adequate as a matter of law to 6 satisfy the contractual requirement that a consenting party actually commence the 7 drilling operation. The Court of Appeals concluded that the language in Johnson v. Yates Petroleum Corp., 981 P.2d 288, indicating that “any” preparatory activities would be sufficient was too permissive. The Court of Appeals was persuaded that Echo’s lack of on-site activity at the proposed well site, other than surveying and staking, and lack of a permit to commence drilling was evidence as a matter of law that Echo had not actually commenced drilling operations. The Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Echo and remanded for an entry of summary judgment in favor of Enduro. The New Mexico Supreme Court reversed, holding that the failure to obtain an approved drilling permit within the relevant commencement period was not dispositive; “[a] party may prove that it has actually commenced drilling operations with evidence that it committed resources, whether on-site or off-site, that demonstrate its present good-faith intent to diligently carry on drilling activities until completion. “ View "Enduro Operating LLC v. Echo Prod., Inc." on Justia Law