Bernalillo County DA seeks default judgment after NM Civil Guard destroys evidence
Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez this week asked a state court for a default judgment in a civil case against the New Mexico Civil Guard militia after a former leader said in a deposition that he intentionally destroyed many of the organization’s records.
Founding member of the New Mexico Civil Guard, Bryce Provance, told the DA’s office in a recorded video deposition that he was unaware of any lawsuit that would compel him to keep the group’s records after he had been removed from membership because of past association with a Neo-nazi prison gang.
In the video, Provance, dressed in a green overcoat echoing the Civil-War era, said he shredded and burned membership records and documents describing the structure of the New Mexico Civil Guard, and he poured bleach on his computer’s hard drive and then burned it.
Though Provance said he was removed from the group before knowing about the lawsuit, court records show he is the New Mexico Civil Guard's representative.
Bernalillo County DA Raúl Torrez told KUNM Provance’s actions to make the records irretrievable and his refusal to answer most questions in the court-ordered deposition should lead to sanctions.
“You’re usually engaged in that kind of behavior because you’re trying to conceal something and the question is, ‘Why are you trying to conceal something and who are you trying to conceal it from?’” Torrez said.
The DA’s office calls the lack of cooperation from the New Mexico Civil Guard extreme misconduct that shows “hostility to the law and court process.” The motion to the court notes that the New Mexico Civil Guard has produced only 14 pages in response to the DA's requests during discovery.
Torrez is seeking an injunction that would prevent the New Mexico Civil Guard from acting as a policing or paramilitary force. He says it’s the first civil lawsuit in the country to prevent extremist groups from acting in public spaces.
Attorney Paul Kennedy who is representing the Civil Guard was unavailable for comment.