More than two years after being filed in federal court, a lawsuit over leaked emails from Gov. Susana Martinez’s 2010 campaign account was dismissed with prejudice Monday. Attorneys on both sides filed the motion to dismiss, which likely puts the issue to rest. “It’s dismissed with prejudice,” Bruce Wetherbee, one of the defendants in the lawsuit, told NM Political Report. “End of story.”
Dismissed with prejudice means that the lawsuit cannot be re-filed in court. Wetherbee worked with Independent Source PAC when the liberal political action committee publicly released some leaked emails from Martinez administration staffers and allies in 2012.
Web pages with salacious images that are part of the personal website of a District Attorney candidate in Doña Ana County caused at least three prominent elected Republicans to withdraw their names as co-hosts of an upcoming fundraiser. The homepage to Brad Cates’ website—www.bradcates.com—shows a picture of the smiling candidate next to bulletpoints of his lawyerly credentials. But certain pages on Cates’ website—like one showing a picture of a seductive-looking blonde woman next to the words “Russia House” and another showing multiple photos of scantily clad women falling across the screen like a slot machine—are causing controversy. The pages have been passed around in certain Republican circles in recent days. Cates is a Republican hoping to replace Doña Ana District Attorney Mark D’Antonio, a Democrat, this fall.
The deadline for New Mexico candidates to file has passed which means campaign season is in full swing. It’s not just legislators competing though. Across the state candidates are also running for the position for district attorney in their respective areas. These races may have extra attention this year after a relentless drumbeat of tough-on-crime bills during the legislative session. First Judicial District
The First Judicial District—which covers Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Los Alamos Counties—will see at least a couple of former coworkers going up against each other.
A witness in a federal civil trial regarding leaked emails from Gov. Susana Martinez will not have to hand over emails she exchanged with a local news reporter. United States Magistrate Judge Stephan M. Vidmar ruled Monday that emails between Santa Fe New Mexican reporter Justin Horwath and former Martinez aide Anissa Ford will not be part of the legal discovery process in a civil case*. Individuals with connections to Martinez accused four individuals of illegally intercepting and disseminating emails from personal email accounts of Martinez staffers. At the hearing, Pat Rogers, a Republican lobbyist and one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, asked the court to order email communications between Horwath and Ford be made available to him and his legal team. Rogers is a Republican National Committeeman in the state and has close ties to the governor.
Two New Mexico state Senators filed a motion in their ongoing legal battle with the City of Albuquerque regarding the city’s practice of seizing cars after DWI arrests but before convictions. The Institute for Justice filed the motion on behalf of Sens. Lisa Torraco, R-Albuquerque, and Daniel Ivey Soto, D-Albuquerque, and asked district court judge to expedite a ruling based solely on the law. “It basically says we don’t need to do any discovery,” Ivey Soto told NM Political Report on Wednesday. “So, we’re saying, ‘Judge, read the law.’”
The referenced law is one that Gov. Susana Martinez signed in 2015 with the intention of ending the practice of taking personal assets before a conviction.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and The Charles Koch Institute, two groups that arguably have differing opinions on many things, appeared on the same same stage in Albuquerque on Wednesday to discuss civil asset forfeiture. New Mexico famously ended the practice of civil asset forfeiture earlier this year. Representatives from the two groups, along with a criminal defense attorney and a former director of the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Office, discussed the importance of reforming states’ laws regarding asset forfeiture. Moderated by Paul Gessing, the director of the free market think tank Rio Grande Foundation, the panel discussed how New Mexico recently passed a law to change how and why law enforcement is allowed to take property. One particularly interesting member of the panel was Brad Cates, a former prosecutor, New Mexico lawmaker and one of the people responsible for creating a law that allowed police to seize property without a conviction or even an arrest.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]PAUL GESSING is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, an independent, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility.[/box]
They say it’s better to be lucky than good. Of course, it’s even better to be lucky and good! That is exactly what happened in New Mexico during the 2015 legislative session with regard to reforming the process of civil asset forfeiture. To recap, during the 2015 legislative session, New Mexico’s deeply-divided Legislature unanimously supported significant reforms to the State’s civil asset forfeiture laws. That bill was signed by Governor Susana Martinez, a former prosecutor.
The 2015 New Mexico Legislative Session was marked with partisan divides. Both Democrats and Republicans left the session pointing fingers and placing blame across the aisle. A rare exception to the lose-lose scenario was a Republican-sponsored bill aimed at reforming the state’s Forfeiture Act. HB 560, sponsored by Rep. Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso, addresses a national concern about police seizing money or property from individuals without the conviction of a crime. While the bill passed both the House and Senate without a single dissenting vote, some committee members wondered if asset forfeiture is a problem in New Mexico.