NM Ruling Limits Police Duty In DWI Testing, Judge Swears In State Prosecutor

Feb 24, 2018

New Mexico Ruling Cites Limit On Police Duty In DWI Testing Associated Press

The New Mexico State Supreme Court has overturned a lower court and ruled that police don't have to help drunken-driving suspects arrange to exercise their right under state law to have an independent blood-alcohol test.

The decision Thursday stems from Stefan Chakerian's 2008 arrest by Albuquerque police and says police only must advise suspects of their right to have a test and not interfere with exercising the right.

An officer provided Chakerian with access to a phone, a telephone directory and a pen, but Chakerian testified he didn't arrange an independent test because too much time had passed and he didn't know whom to call.

The Supreme Court's decision overturns a Court of Appeals ruling that said police must "meaningfully cooperate" with a suspect's desire to have an independent test.

Judge Swears In New Top Federal Prosecutor For New Mexico Associated Press

The state's chief federal judge has sworn in a new U.S. Attorney for New Mexico.

A spokeswoman for the federal prosecutors' office in New Mexico said in a statement Friday that U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson was sworn in earlier that day during a private ceremony at the federal courthouse in Santa Fe.

President Donald Trump nominated Anderson in November to fill the post, and the U.S. Senate confirmed his nomination earlier this month.

Anderson will oversee federal prosecutions and federal interests in civil cases in the state.

He is a former federal prosecutor who primarily focused on white-collar crimes before leaving for private practice in 2013. He most recently was an attorney with the law firm Holland & Hart in Santa Fe.

Carlsbad Farmers Expecting Full Irrigation Allotment Associated Press

Officials say reservoirs in eastern New Mexico are full enough to provide a full allotment of irrigation water to farmers in the Carlsbad area.

Federal and state water managers discussed the reservoir levels during a conference call earlier this week, and the Bureau of Reclamation announced Thursday that it would begin moving water down the Pecos River from Brantley Reservoir to Avalon Reservoir next week.

Avalon was drained at the end of 2017 to allow for inspections and for the Carlsbad Irrigation District to do maintenance. The bureau will begin filling the reservoir Feb. 28.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports this will be the first time in four years that farmers who depend on the irrigation district will get a full allotment.

Still, district manager Dale Ballard worried that a predicted dry year could mean lower levels in the future.

Autopsy Finds Teen May Have Been Burned, Sexually Assaulted Associated Press

Court documents related to the homicide case of a 13-year-old New Mexico boy who endured years of abuse reveal he may have also been sexually assaulted and burned.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Friday that, according to newly released search warrants, an autopsy of Jeremiah Valencia's body details that portions of it had possibly been burned.

A grand jury last week indicted the boy's stepfather, Thomas Wayne Ferguson, on first-degree murder and other charges.

The boy's mother, Tracy Ann Pena, and Ferguson's 19-year-old son, Jordan Nunez, are also charged.

Authorities say Ferguson of repeatedly torturing the teen and beating him to death last November. His body was found buried off a rural highway near Nambe.

Detectives got permission this week to search additional property owned by the suspects.

Farmington Police Officers To Boost Presence In Schools Associated Press

Farmington police is increasing its presence in the city's public schools in the wake of last week's mass shooting at a Florida school.

Farmington Municipal School District officials announced Friday that uniformed officers and even police Chief Steve Hebbe will make unannounced visits to schools.

Officers will walk through the campus and engage with students and faculty.

Police spokeswoman Georgette Allen says the public shouldn't be alarmed if they see several patrol vehicles outside a school. The heightened police presence is in addition to already employed school resource officers.

The plan will last for at least the rest of the school year.

Allen says the idea stemmed from conversations police and district officials had about how to collaborate in light of recent talk about school shootings.

New Mexico Puts Breaks On Four-Day School Schedules Associated Press

New Mexico is threatening to cut off funding at schools that try and switch to a four-day week as the practice has spread to more than 40 percent of public school districts across the state.

State education officials and lawmakers say it's not clear that students and working families are helped by fewer, longer school days and want to gather more research. States nationwide increasingly are providing flexibility in school scheduling that can open the door to four-day weeks.

New Mexico lawmakers have placed a moratorium on additional four-day school schedules within a budget bill. Republican Gov. Susan Martinez has until March 7 to act on the proposal.

Superintendents in far-flung districts say four-day weeks are key tool for attracting talented teachers to schools with limited financial resources.

New Mexico High School Graduation Rate Holds Steady Associated Press

The percentage of New Mexico students who graduate high school is holding steady at 71 percent.

Public Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski announced new graduation data Friday, saying he was particularly encouraged by the notable leap among Hispanic students over the last several years.

He said the graduation rate for Hispanic students was less than 60 percent in 2011. That continued its upward trajectory in 2017 and now stands at nearly 71 percent.

Ruszkowski said the bar has been raised over the years and that New Mexico's students and families are responding.

The state has long ranked near the bottom when it comes to the number of students who finish high school. New Mexico marked an all-time high after the 2016 school year when it first recorded an overall 71 percent graduation rate.

Threat From New Mexico Panics Parents At New Jersey SchoolAssociated Press

Authorities say a hoax threat against a school in New Mexico caused hundreds of parents to rush to a New Jersey school known by the same abbreviation.

The Jersey Journal reports that many parents of students at Bayonne High School picked up their children early on Friday after hearing of a social media post threatening "BHS students."

Police say the threat was made Wednesday by a 16-year-old student at Belen High School, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Albuquerque. Authorities say he wanted "to see what kind of response he would get."

Police responded to the Bayonne school around 7:45 a.m. Friday. By about 10 a.m., they determined there was no threat.

The school says about 500 students were pulled out of school early.