AG gathers law enforcement to discuss possible solutions to gun violence

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez opened a Law Enforcement Summit Tuesday to address gun violence. The summit was Tuesday afternoon at the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. “As the chief law enforcement officer in the state, I have a duty, I believe, to try and help elevate the voice of frontline police and prosecutors, and in many respects, the debate the conversation that has transpired in this community and in the state over the last several weeks, I think obscures some important facts and realities that the people of this community and the people that every community in New Mexico deserve to hear,” he said. Torrez added that he has a special interest in addressing the gun violence problem that he said seems to be endemic to Bernalillo County because he was born and raised in Albuquerque and is raising his family there. “I am profoundly upset and frankly angry about the lack of progress that has been made specifically with regard to the reduction of gun violence,” Torrez said.

Raul Torrez

New Mexico AG to investigate Gallup-McKinley school district for harsh discipline of Native American students

by Bryant Furlow, New Mexico In Depth with ProPublica

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox. Series: Unequal Discipline:Native Students Face Harsh Discipline in New Mexico

Native American students in New Mexico are expelled far more often than members of any other group. One school district, Gallup-McKinley County Schools, is responsible for most of that disparity. New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez is opening an investigation into disproportionately harsh punishment of Native American children by Gallup-McKinley County Schools.

AG says he won’t defend Lujan Grisham administration in gun order lawsuits

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez sent Gov. Michelle Luan Grisham a letter telling her that his office would not defend her in the four cases so far filed in federal court challenging the Sept. 8 public health order. The order puts a temporary ban on firearms in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County as well as imposing drug monitoring and other measures. “Though I recognize my statutory obligation as New Mexico’s chief legal officer to defend state officials when they are sued in their official capacity, my duty to uphold and defend the constitutional rights of every citizen takes precedence,” Torrez’s letter stated. “Simply put, I do not believe that the Emergency Order will have any meaningful impact on public safety but, more importantly, I do not believe it passes constitutional muster.”

Torrez shared his anger and frustration about survivors and victims of gun violence.

Legislative Newsletter: Uncharted Territory

This is a copy of a weekly newsletter, and we are running the first few editions on the website. To subscribe for free, sign up here. Note: this was written prior to the governor’s public health order regarding firearms in Bernalillo County. Hello political junkies! An ongoing theme in all levels and branches of government lately is uncharted territory.

AG urges Congress to study AI and its use in child exploitation

The proliferation of artificial intelligence has brought child abuse to newer levels that attorneys general across the country are working to curb. The National Association of Attorneys General sent a letter to Congress on Sept. 5, with New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez as a cosigner, urging Congress to look into artificial intelligence’s uses in child exploitation. “In this ever-evolving landscape of technology, it is up to leaders in state and federal government to place protections around sophisticated technology to ensure that the digital world is a safe space for children to learn and create,” Torrez said in a press release. “Today’s letter urges Congress to focus specifically on safeguarding children in a world where artificial intelligence is increasingly prevalent and harmful to our youth.

New Mexico Supreme Court sets date for oral arguments on anti-abortion ordinances 

The New Mexico Supreme Court will hear oral argument over the legality of anti-abortion ordinances some smaller jurisdictions passed last winter, creating a “patchwork” of abortion access in the state. The oral arguments will be heard at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 13 and the parties will argue the legality of those anti-abortion ordinances now that the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Healthcare law applies. The law, which prohibits public bodies from discriminating against reproductive or gender-affirming healthcare, passed the legislature in March. New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez filed an emergency petition for writ of mandamus and request for stay with the New Mexico Supreme Court in March regarding Lea and Roosevelt counties and the cities of Hobbs and Clovis because all four had passed anti-abortion ordinances during the winter despite the fact that abortion is legal in New Mexico. 

The legislature passed HB 7, the bill that prohibits public bodies from discriminating against abortion or gender-affirming care, in March.

NM Supreme Court ruling clarifies how domestic violence victims can seek an order of protection

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled last week that the Family Violence Protection Act does not require petitioners to show imminent danger or injury when seeking an order for protection. Historically, victims of sexual assault, stalking, child abuse or domestic violence had to prove both past danger and imminent danger to obtain a civil order of protection – a high bar that potentially leaves some victims vulnerable. 

A civil order of protection is one that a victim can seek without reporting to law enforcement. The court’s ruling brings clarity to the Family Violence Protection Act and improves access for orders of protection for victims of violent behavior that often involves family or close connections. People who work with victims consider the ruling an important step in filling some of the gaps in the legal system that can impair a victim’s efforts to heal and, in some cases, seek justice. Alexandria Taylor, executive director of New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, called this decision “critical” for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and child abuse.

NM joins in amicus on lawsuit over Idaho law banning abortion information

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general who filed an amicus brief on Tuesday in support of a lawsuit against the state of Idaho due to a state law aimed at curbing efforts to help Idaho minors who seek an out-of-state abortion. The Idaho law could have repercussions for individuals in other states, such as New Mexico, where abortion is legal and safe. New Mexico has no barriers for minors who are 14 years old or older to receive abortion care. The amicus brief cites the danger that some minors face if they must seek parental consent for an abortion. Advocates of abortion care call parental consent TRAP laws [Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers] which are intended to place barriers in the way of care. 

But Idaho has enacted a law that would criminalize individuals in other states where abortion is legal if those individuals help an Idaho minor seek an abortion.

A look back at what the last year has wrought

A week ago this coming Saturday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade and upending nearly 50 years of precedent. But the story really starts before June 24, 2022. Abortion is legal in New Mexico and remains so in part because advocates began working years ago to ensure that it would continue to be legal in the event the political makeup of the court changed. Joan Lamunyon Sanford, executive director of  abortion fund provider New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, said that in October of 2020, when the U.S. Senate confirmed Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, she knew “we would lose Roe.”

“We were anticipating it as far back as that. We started comparing it to a natural disaster, though this is a created disaster,” she said.

Two reproductive healthcare laws go into effect today

Two bills that will strengthen New Mexico’s protections for reproductive and gender-affirming healthcare in New Mexico became law on Friday. HB 7 and SB 13 both passed the 2023 legislature and were signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham this year. HB 7, Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Healthcare Act, prohibits discrimination against individuals seeking reproductive or gender-affirming healthcare. SB 13, Reproductive Health Provider Protections Act, is also commonly referred to as the shield law because it shields providers and patients from civil or criminal liability for abortion or gender-affirming care in New Mexico. It further shields reproductive and gender-affirming healthcare providers by prohibiting licensing boards in their specialties from discrimination.