Judge denies registered sex offender’s appeal

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By Carol A. Clark

The New Mexico Court of Appeals has ruled against local resident Thomas Edward (Ted) Vives in his appeal of a Santa Fe District Court, which ordered him to register as a sex offender with the New Mexico Sex Offender Registry.

Vives, 44, pled nolo contendere or no contest in Florida in 1992 to charges he engaged in a sex act with a child under 18 years old.

As a result, he was required to serve 30 days imprisonment, two years of community control and five years of probation. He also was ordered to pay restitution for mental counseling of the victim, have no unsupervised contact with children under 18 years old, surrender his teaching credentials and register as a sex offender in Florida, according to court documents.   

Vives filed a petition in 2005 against former Los Alamos County Sheriff William Verzino and against the New Mexico Department of Public Safety arguing that “he is not required by law to register as a sex offender in New Mexico, that he is being forced to register illegally and that he is not required by New Mexico law to register as a sex offender in New Mexico.”

Los Alamos County Attorney Mary McInerny discussed the court’s ruling during an interview Friday afternoon.

“We obviously believe the court is right,” McInerny said. “The court’s decision upholds  the process for registry of sex offenders regardless of where the crime occurred – in this case it was Florida.”

Vives declined comment when contacted Friday in reference to the court ruling.

Appellate Court Judge Robert Robles rendered the opinion in the case, which included the following background information.

In 2000, Vives moved to New Mexico and did not register as a sex offender. In 2004, Sheriff Verzino issued notice to Vives that he was required to register under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

Vives was informed that if he did not register, he would be charged and prosecuted with a fourth-degree felony, according to the court document and he registered at that time as a sex offender with the Los Alamos County Sheriff’s Department.

In July 2005, Vives filed a petition for declaratory and injunctive relief, naming the Los Alamos County Sheriff and the New Mexico Department of Public Safety as Respondents, seeking to be removed from the sex offender registry. 

Both Respondents filed motions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, according to court records.

In November 2005, Vives filed an amended petition, which was met by more motions from Respondents to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. 

Following an exchange of responses on the motions to dismiss, the district court held a hearing and denied the motions to dismiss.

Six months later, Vives filed an unopposed motion to vacate the pretrial conference and to remove the case from the trial docket, stating that the parties agreed that the case could be resolved by summary judgment since the facts appeared not to be disputed and the case turns on an issue of law.

Vives proposed that he file a motion for summary judgment and that Respondents could then file a cross-motion for summary judgment.

Once the briefing was complete, the court could then decide the case on the basis of undisputed facts without the necessity for expending court time on a trial.

The district court granted Vives’ motion and, shortly thereafter, he filed a motion for summary judgment. Respondents filed a response to Vives’ motion and filed their own cross-motion for summary judgment. 

After a reply from Vives, the district court held a hearing and ultimately denied Vives’ motion for summary judgment finding in favor of the Respondents cross-motion for summary judgment.  The appeal followed and was denied June 30.

The date to appeal the Appellate Court ruling to the New Mexico Supreme Court passed last week.

Vives first registered as a sex offender with the New Mexico Department of Public Safety Sex Offender Registry on May 21, 2004. He re-registered on Nov. 12, 2008, according to the registry Web site.

The registry lists Vives as having a sex offense conviction for “Engaging in sexual acts with a child under 18 years of age” and lists the date of his conviction in Marion, Fla., as March 31, 1992.

Vives also is listed on the registry as a self-employed musician.

The local county sheriff is responsible for registering sex offenders residing within their county.

Pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, the release of sex offender registration information is limited to those individuals convicted of certain sex offenses on or after July 1,1995, or those individuals convicted of a sex offense prior to that date and were incarcerated or on probation/parole as of that date. The integrity and accuracy of the information is based on the information provided at the time a sex offender registers. Information is updated when a sex offender registers, re-registers, after moving or following annual renewal.

The National Registry of Sex Offenders showed 185,393 registered sex offenders living in the United States in 1996, of which 80 lived in New Mexico.

Today, that number has increased nationwide to 673,989 per 100,000 population and 2,354 in New Mexico, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Seven registered sex offenders currently reside within Los Alamos County including:

• Charles Michael Bracken, 51, 1396-B 40th St.;

• Thomas James Kluegel, 49, 802 9th St. Apt. A;

• William Charles Mead, 62, 10 Bonito Place;

• Henry John Meyer, 50, 535 Kiva St. Apt. 2;

• Curtis V. Scott, 25, 379 Aragon;

• Thomas Edward (Ted) Vives, 44, 192 Los Pueblos, and

• Lester Allen Zimmerman, 47, 110 Tunyo St.

For information about the New Mexico sex offender registry, access www. nmsexoffender.dps.state.nm.us.

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4165 ext. 25. Read her newsblog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.