Retired Chief Justice Charles Daniels Dies At 76, Key Shaft At WIPP May Be Built By 2020

Sep 2, 2019

Retired New Mexico Chief Justice Charles Daniels Dies At 76 - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Authorities say former New Mexico Chief Justice Charles Daniels has died.

Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura issued a statement Sunday on behalf of the state Supreme Court about Daniels' death, calling him "a titan of the law."

A cause of death was not immediately released, but the Albuquerque Journal reports the 76-year-old Daniels had received a diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease several weeks ago.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says Daniels led New Mexico's highest court "with clarity and conviction, leaving a legacy rivaled by few."

Daniels was on the state Supreme Court from 2007 until his December 2018 retirement.

He was chief justice from 2010 to 2012 and from 2016 to 2017.

State Attorney General Hector Balderas called Daniels "a champion of fairness and equality."

He is survived by his wife, four children and seven grandchildren.

New Mexico Accountant Accused Of Defrauding Clients Of $1M- Las Cruces Sun News, Associated Press

Federal court records show a New Mexico accountant faces charges stemming from accusations he defrauded two clients of more than $1 million.

Citing court documents, the Las Cruces Sun News reports a married couple had entrusted 61-year-old Thomas Laws, a certified public accountant in Silver City, with the money. He is accused of failing to invest it after accepting it in 2014.

The newspaper reports Laws is charged with wire fraud; transportation, transmission, and transfer of stolen money; fraud; and aggravated identity theft.

An attorney representing Laws could not be reached for comment.

Authorities say he used the couple's money to pay credit card debts, personal and business expenses, and met obligations to other clients and investors.

Key Shaft At US Nuclear Waste Dump May Be Built By 2020- Carlsbad Current Argus, Associated Press

A major part of a multimillion-dollar effort to rebuild a ventilation system at the U.S. government's only underground nuclear waste repository is expected to be done by next year, officials announced last week.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently awarded a contract for the construction of a utility shaft essential to the project, the Carlsbad Current Argus reports.

The shaft was designed with a 26-foot diameter, extending 2,275 feet underground.

The rebuilt system of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, New Mexico, is intended to add air to the underground and allow the placement of mining and other waste to occur simultaneously.

The ventilation overhaul was prompted by a radiation release in 2014 that contaminated parts of the repository and forced its closure for nearly three years.

Police Have Person Of Interest In Death Of Taos Businessman- Associated Press

New Mexico State Police believe they have a person of interest in the death of a Taos businessman.

They say the person hasn't been located yet for questioning and a name wasn't being released.

State Police say the body of 63-year-old Patrick Larkin was found about a mile from his home Wednesday.

Larkin was the owner of World Cup Cafe.

State Police say Larkin was reported missing after he left his home south of town Tuesday afternoon and didn't return.

Larkin's body was found after a search, but State Police say details are being withheld to protect the integrity of the case.

They say Larkin's body was taken to the medical investigator's office to determine the exact cause of death.

New Mexico's Davie Expects Full Recovery 'Medical Incident' - Associated Press

University of New Mexico football coach Bob Davie says he expects to fully recover after being rushed to an Albuquerque hospital moments after his team's season-opening victory over Sam Houston State on Saturday night.

School officials say the 64-year-old coach had "a serious medical incident" following the game but was doing well at the hospital by nightfall and surrounded by his family.

In a statement Sunday, Davie thanked the team's training room staff, first responders and University of New Mexico Hospital staff for their "swift and professional efforts during a critical time."

Davie says he "anticipates a full recovery thanks to the excellent care" he received.

New Mexico's next game is at Notre Dame on Sept. 14. Davie is a former Notre Dame coach who is in his eighth season leading New Mexico.

School officials still haven't disclosed Davie's ailment. There was also no immediate word on when he would resume his coaching duties.

New Mexico Justices Lift Ban On Spousal Testimony- Associated Press

New Mexico's highest court has lifted a ban on testimony that stems from private conversations between spouses.

The state Supreme Court's ruling came in its decision to uphold the first-degree murder conviction of David Gutierrez, of Clovis. He is accused of killing a man in 2002.

A courts spokesman said in a statement Monday that Gutierrez had sought to block testimony from his ex-wife and second wife during his trial. While the court upheld his conviction, the "spousal communication privilege" remained in effect for his case.

The justices' decision Friday on spousal testimony applies to all criminal and civil cases moving forward.

Chief Justice Judith Nakamura said in a statement that "the privilege is a vestige of a vastly different society than the one we live in today."

New Mexico Ruling Abolishes Privilege On Spousal Testimony - Paul Davenport Associated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court is abolishing a legal privilege that bars use of testimony by a defendant's spouse.

The Santa Fe-based court's ruling says the spousal communication privilege "has outlived its useful life" and is based in misogyny.

The ruling Friday bars future use of the privilege in the state court system.

The court took the action in a ruling that upholds David Gutierrez's murder conviction in a 2002 killing in Clovis. He had made incriminating statements to both a wife he later divorced and to his second wife.

Gutierrez's defense unsuccessfully objected to a trial judge's decisions to allow both women to testify about the incriminating statements.

2 Free Online Schools Continue To Operate In New Mexico - Las Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press

Two tuition-free online schools continue to operate in New Mexico despite efforts to close them.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports New Mexico Connections Academy in Santa Fe and Pecos Connections Academy in Carlsbad continue to enroll students to take online classes.

In December 2017, the Public Education Committee voted not to renew New Mexico Connections Academy's charter following a study that found the school had misspent funds and was failing students. The school's website says it is still enrolling students.

In 2018, the Carlsbad Municipal School Board voted to launch an investigation against Pecos Connections Academy, citing allegations the school was not meeting student and personnel needs. School leader Jed Duggan says a legislative committee for virtual schools looked into the allegations, but confirmed the school was in compliance.

New Mexico Denies License For Shelter For Immigrant Boys - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A New Mexico agency has rejected an Arizona-based organization's application for a planned Albuquerque shelter for children who immigrated to the country illegally.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that a New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department official told Tucson-based VisionQuest in a letter Wednesday that it failed to accurately describe why Pennsylvania temporarily revoked a license for a facility near Gettysburg in 2015.

VisionQuest can appeal New Mexico's denial of a license to shelter up to 60 boys ages 11 to 17 who are in federal custody after entering the country without a legal guardian.

VisionQuest spokeswoman Amanda Burton said Friday that the company intends to provide additional documentation to the state and is concerned that the New Mexico agency considered incomplete information "more than a simple omission."

Asian American Korea War Hero Gives What May Be 'Final' Talk - Gallup Independent, Associated Press

Hiroshi "Hershey" Miyamura, the son of Japanese immigrants who was awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor for his actions in the Korean War, may have given his last public lecture.

The Gallup Independent reports the ailing 94-year-old veteran spoke to a group of U.S. Navy Seabees last month in Gallup, New Mexico, about his life and service.

Miyamura spoke about the emotion he had seeing the American flag after he was liberated from a POW camp during the Korean War. The talks were part of the lectures he gives every summer to servicepeople in western New Mexico.

Ken Riege, who travels around with Miyamura, says the veteran may not give the talks next year because of his declining health.

Miyamura served in the Army from 1945 to 1953.