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Courts

  • 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.

  • Juror has second thoughts in Chavez case

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A juror in the trial of a former Albuquerque police officer acquitted of killing his wife says he might have “let a murderer go free.”
    Fred Trujillo told the Albuquerque Journal on Friday that he regrets finding Levi Chavez not guilty of killing his wife and that barred evidence might have changed his mind.
    Chavez was acquitted last month of killing his 26-year-old wife Tera Chavez and making it look like a suicide.
    Trujillo said in an interview that he struggled through five weeks of emotional courtroom drama and 11 hours of deliberations in the recently concluded trial.
    Defense attorney David Serna convinced a judge to bar evidence about allegations Chavez killed his wife to hide a stage theft of a truck.

  • Nguyen takes plea deal

    Aaron Nguyen, the former high school student who was arrested by police for a string of burglaries at several homes in his neighborhood earlier this year, accepted a plea agreement in Los Alamos First Judicial District Court Wednesday.

    The plea agreement will not involve any jail time for Nguyen.

    The agreement states it’s a conditional discharge that includes five years of supervised probation, which includes GPS-monitored supervision for the first year, counseling and paying restitution to his victims.

    At the time of his arrest, he was charged with four counts of aggravated burglary, since he was armed when he entered the houses, one count of burglary, six counts of larceny of a firearm, one count of larceny over $2,500, and four counts of larceny (over $500 but less than $2,500). In all, Nguyen pleaded guilty to 16 counts.

    During a prior hearing regarding his bond, it was revealed by Nguyen’s attorney, Steve Aarons, that during the time of the burglaries Nguyen was suffering from bipolar disorder as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder. At the time, Aarons said he hoped those circumstances would factor into Nguyen’s sentence.

  • On the Docket: Local Courts 07-24-13

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

    July 11

    Ashley Sullivan was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of stopping, standing or parking her car along restricted or prohibited streets and failing to pay court costs/fines. She was fined $50 and ordered to pay $46 in court costs. Sentencing has been deferred until Aug.9. She was also assigned community service.

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

    Leonard Maestas, Jr. was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of failing to yield or stop at a sign. He was fined $50 and ordered to pay $46 in court fees.

    Christopher E. Gast was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of having an expired registration and no insurance. He was fined $225 and ordered to pay $92 in court fees.

    Philip W. Grogin was found guilty by Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. He was fined $50 and ordered to pay $46 in court fees.

    July 12

  • NM attorney general not defending gay marriage ban

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Attorney General Gary King told the state's highest court on Monday that a prohibition on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

    In written arguments filed with the court, King said the justices should invalidate the state's ban on gay marriage if they agree to resolve the issue in a lawsuit filed by two Santa Fe men who were denied a marriage license.

    King, a Democrat who plans to run for governor next year against Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, said New Mexico law effectively doesn't allow gay marriages although there's no statutory provision that specifically prohibits, or authorizes, gay couples to be married.

    "New Mexico's guarantee of equal protection to its citizens demands that same-sex couples be permitted to enjoy the benefits of marriage in the same way and to the same extent as other New Mexico citizens," King said in the filing.

    The five-member court had asked King's office to respond to the lawsuit. No hearing has been scheduled in the case so far, and it's uncertain whether the Supreme Court will issue a decision resolving the same-sex marriage dispute.

  • On the Docket: Local Courts 07-17-13

    The information pertaining to these cases was derived from the dockets of the Los Alamos Municipal and Magistrate Courts.
    July 10

    Amanda L. Broach was found guilty by Los Alamos Municipal Court on two counts of expired registration. She was fined $120 and ordered to pay $92 in court costs.

    Fernando Bayardo was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of stopping, standing or parking his car on restricted or prohibited streets. He was fined $50.

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

    Alfredo Delgado-Moreno was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court having an expired registration. He was fined $90 and ordered to pay $46 in court costs.

    Christopher Fresquez was found guilty in Los Alamos Municipal Court of stopping, standing or parking his car on restricted or prohibited streets. He was fined $50.
    July 11

  • On the Docket: Local Courts 07-10-13

    July 2

    Justin D. Salazar was found guilty in Los Alamos Magistrate Court of driving while under the influence of liquor and/or drugs, with a blood alcohol level of .08.
    Probation conditions include: Defendant will meet with probation officers within seven days and maintain contact as instructed.
    The defendant is to participate in alcohol education classes or treatment with at least six sessions. The defendant shall enter, participate in and successfully complete DWI school within 90 days. The defendant shall enter participate in and successfully complete the Victim Impact program within 90 days.
    Defendant must also obtain an ignition interlock license and have an interlock ignition device installed on all vehicles defendant drives for one year. The defendant will pay all costs associated with installing the interlock devices as well.
    Defendant will obey all laws and not be arrested, indicted, charged or convicted of any other offense. Defendant will comply with all court ordered conditions of probation. Defendant shall not possess or consume alcohol or enter a liquor establishment. Defendant must contact the probation officer prior to leaving New Mexico.
    The defendant must also complete 24 hours of community service, and commit to paying $25 a month probation fees.

    July 3

  • Legal fight expands in NM over same-sex marriage

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Same-sex couples are asking the state Supreme Court to decide whether New Mexico recognizes gay marriages from other states, potentially providing them a range of benefits involving tax, health and inheritance laws.

    The lawsuit announced Wednesday broadens the legal questions before the state's highest court on the issue of same-sex marriage.

    Two Santa Fe men brought a case last week asking the Supreme Court to order the local county clerk to issue them a marriage license, which had been denied.

    The latest lawsuit, which was filed late Tuesday, also seeks to have the court declare that gay marriage is legal but poses an additional question on whether New Mexico recognizes same-sex marriages from other states.

    Lawyers said it's important for the court to answer the question about out-of-state gay marriages because of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which had prevented same-sex couples from qualifying for federal tax, health care and pension benefits otherwise available to married couples. The lawsuit said some federal and state benefits may not be provided if a couple lives in a state that doesn't recognize same-sex marriage.