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Courts

  • Judge orders LA county to issue same sex marriage license -- updated

     

    A district judge has ordered Los Alamos County to issue a same-sex marriage license to residents Janet Newton and Maria Thibodeau Thursday.

    Newton and Thibodeau filed a complaint in district court Wednesday after being denied  a license by county clerk Sharon Stover on Tuesday.

    “As I understand, she (county clerk Sharon Stover) told our clients that she had no authority to issue a marriage license,” said Kate Ferlic, whose firm is representing Newton and Thibodeau. “Our clients said it was legal in six counties and they would like to get married in their home county.”

    According to the suit filed in First Judicial Court, Newton and Thibodeau asked for a writ of mandamus or court order requiring the clerk to issue them a marriage license.

    District judge Shari Raphaelson signed that order Wednesday.

    And as of Wednesday night, Stover said that county attorney Rebecca Ehler has the complaint but has not yet seen the writ.

    Before the order was signed by the judge, Stover was asked what she would do.

    “I need to see what the suit says and see what our county attorney says,” Stover said. “The way the law is, this needs to get fixed.”

    Stover hopes some help is on the way.

  • On The Docket 08-28-13

    The information pertaining to these cases was derived from the dockets of the Los Alamos Municipal and Magistrate Courts.

    Aug. 22

    Bart J. Daly was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of an improper lane change. He was ordered to pay $46 in court costs.

    Gerald F. Heck was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of failing to appear in court and speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit.
    He was fined $50 and ordered to pay $92 in court costs. For the speeding charge, sentence is deferred until November 25 under a plea agreement.

    Chris K. Bolin was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of careless driving. Sentence is deferred until Oct. 20.

    Maryann S. Blackhart was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of failing to yield or stop at a sign. She was ordered to pay $46 in court costs.

    Don M. Gallegos was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of being a chauffeur without a license. He was fined $100 and ordered to pay $46 in court costs.

    Robert I. Vigil was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of driving with an expired registration. He was fined $60 and ordered to pay $46 in court costs.

  • SF clerk ordered to give gay marriage licenses -- updated

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The county clerk in the New Mexico state capital and the heart of this state's gay rights movement began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples Friday, a court-ordered move that came just two days after a county clerk in the south decided on his own to recognize same-sex marriage.

    The first couple to get a license in the state's third-largest county was Santa Fe County Commissioner Liz Stefanics and Linda Siegle, a lobbyist for Equality New Mexico, a gay rights group. Stefanics is a former Democratic state senator from Santa Fe.

    The couple walked into County Clerk Geraldine Salazar's office shortly after 1:30 p.m., and asked if they were still denying licenses to same-sex couples.

    "Not today," Salazar said.

    Also receiving a license were the two men who filed the lawsuit that resulted in the court order directing the clerk to issue the licenses — Alexander Hanna and Yon Hudson.

    "It's exhilarating and also humbling," Hudson said.

    The order late Thursday from District Judge Sarah Singleton represents the first time a New Mexico judge has ruled that gay and lesbian couples can be married, said state Rep. Brian Egolf, a lawyer representing Hanna and Hudson in the suit.

  • On The Docket 08-21-13

    The information pertaining to these cases was derived from the dockets of the Los Alamos Municipal and Magistrate Courts.
    Aug. 14

    Miguel M. Montoya was found guilty by Los Alamos Municipal Court of failing to pay court fines/fees and speeding 11 to 15 miles an hour over the speed limit. He was fined $125 and ordered to pay $92 in court costs.
    Aug. 15

    Maria Cuesta-Garcia was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of failing to yield/stop at a sign. She was fined $50 and ordered to pay $46 in court costs.
    Aug. 16

    Dana C. Crooks was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Crooks was fined $50 and ordered to pay $46 in court costs.

    Henry D. Cummings was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of having an expired registration. He was fined $50 and ordered to pay $46 in court costs.
    Aug. 17

    Delores A. Watson was found guilty by Los Alamos Municipal Court of failing to pay court fines/fees and speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. She was fined $100 and ordered to pay $92 in court costs.
    Aug. 18

    Jess M. Cullinan was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding 11 to 15 miles an hour over the speed limit. The defendant was fined $75 and ordered to pay $46 in court fees.

  • NM court asked to expedite gay marriage ruling

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A same-sex couple from Santa Fe has asked the New Mexico Supreme Court to streamline the handling of lawsuits seeking to legalize gay marriage in the state.

    Rep. Brian Egolf, a Santa Fe Democrat and lawyer for the couple, said Tuesday the goal is to get a quick lower court decision and clear the way for an expedited ruling by the state's highest court.

    The justices are being asked to consolidate all cases involving the gay marriage issue and assign them to a district court judge in Santa Fe, who would issue a ruling that would go directly to the Supreme Court for review.

    The Supreme Court took a similar approach in 2011 by consolidating several competing lawsuits over the drawing of new district boundaries for legislative, congressional and other elected offices. The court assigned the redistricting challenges to a retired judge in Santa Fe. That avoided the possibility of conflicting rulings in different lower courts.

    Two cases involving gay marriage are pending in lower courts — one in Santa Fe brought by two men who were denied a marriage license, and a lawsuit in Albuquerque brought on behalf of several same-sex couples by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

  • On The Docket 08-14-13

    The information pertaining to these cases was derived from the dockets of the Los Alamos Municipal and Magistrate Courts.

    July 8

    James Reagan was found guilty in Los Alamos Magistrate Court of speeding one to 10 miles over the posted speed limit. He was fined $15 and ordered to pay $61 in court costs.

    Aug. 7

    Emilie Passemar was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the posted speed limit. She has been fined $50 and ordered to pay $46 in court costs.
    Aug. 8

    Santiago Martinez was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding 21 to 25 miles an hour over the posted speed limit. He has been fined $150 and ordered to pay $46 in court costs.

    Jose F. Ortiz was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of driving with an expired registration. He was fined $70 and ordered to pay $46 in court costs.

    Monica Maceira was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of failure to yield/stop at sign. She was fined $50 and ordered to pay $46 in court costs.

    Ian J. Hubbard was found guilty by the Los Alamos Magistrate Court of improper handling of fire. He was fined $150 and ordered to pay $73 in court costs.

  • Holder looks to soften drug-related sentences

    WASHINGTON (AP) — With the U.S. facing massive overcrowding in its prisons, Attorney General Eric Holder is calling for major changes to the nation's criminal justice system that would scale back the use of harsh sentences for certain drug-related crimes.

    In remarks prepared for delivery to the American Bar Association in San Francisco, Holder said he also favors diverting people convicted of low-level offenses to drug treatment and community service programs and expanding a prison program to allow for release of some elderly, non-violent offenders.

    "We need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, deter and rehabilitate — not merely to convict, warehouse and forget," Holder says in the speech he's scheduled to deliver Monday.

    In one important change, the attorney general is altering Justice Department policy so that low-level, non-violent drug offenders with no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or cartels won't be charged with offenses that impose mandatory minimum sentences.

    Mandatory minimum prison sentences, a product of the government's war on drugs that began in the 1980s, limit the discretion of judges to impose shorter prison sentences.

  • Council appoints probate judge Tuesday

    First in a two-part series.

    The main order of business at the Aug.13 council meeting is selecting someone to fill the unexpired term of Probate Judge Ellen Hong. Six candidates submitted letters of interest to the council.

    The Los Alamos Monitor spoke with each of the candidates this week.

    Christine Chandler spent a large portion of her career with Los Alamos National Laboratory Office of Laboratory Counsel, serving as both senior attorney and practice group leader. Chandler currently is co-owner of Chandler Law.

    “I think I bring something that’s a little unique to the position in that I know the county so well, I have a pretty good idea of where the probate court fits into the structure,” Chandler said.

    “And I have a long-standing interest in trying to participate and advance the community.”

    Chandler would like to play an educational role if selected.

    “I think it’s an office that people are clueless about until an issue comes up. So my thought is I’d do a fair amount of public outreach to try to have people understand what the whole probate process is and how the office works,” Chandler said.

  • On the Docket 08-07-13

    The information pertaining to these cases was derived from the dockets of the Los Alamos Municipal and Magistrate Courts.

    August 1

    John L. Breiner was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of failure to yield/stop at sign. The defendant was fined $50 and ordered to pay $46 in court costs.

    Lee Donghun was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of failure to yield/stop at sign. The defendant was fined $50 and ordered to pay $46 in court costs.

    August 5

    Joel Grajeda was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of aggravated driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs and driving on a suspended or revoked license. The defendant was fined $1,799 and ordered to pay $373 in court costs.
    In addition, the defendant was sentenced to 179 days at the Los Alamos County Detention Center, as well as one year supervised probation. During that time, he must check in with the probation officer every week, get an ignition interlock device installed in all motor vehicles owned, as well as participate in alcohol education classes.

    Madeleine C. Brown was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding six to 10 miles over the posted speed limit. The defendant was fined $50 and ordered to pay $46 in court costs.

  • On the Docket 07-31-13

    The information pertaining to these cases was derived from the dockets of the Los Alamos Municipal and Magistrate Courts.
    July 24

    Gilbert Coriz was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the posted speed limit. He was fined $50 and ordered to pay $46 in court costs.

    Doan N. Nguyen was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the posted speed limit. He was fined $50 and ordered to pay $46 in court costs.
    July 25

    Roy M. Goeller was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of failure to use seatbelts. He was fined $50 and ordered to pay $46 in court costs.

    Nicolas Castano was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the posted speed limit. He was fined $50 and ordered to pay $46 in court costs.