Ruling Upholds Indian Child Welfare Act, County Launches App Tracking Found Heroin Needles

Aug 9, 2019

Law Governing Adoptions Of Native American Children Upheld - By Kevin McGill Associated Press

A federal appeals court has upheld the constitutionality of a 1978 law giving preference to Native American families in foster care and adoption proceedings involving American Indian children.

Friday's decision by a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal upholds the Indian Child Welfare Act and reverses a Texas-based federal judge. It comes in a case involving non-Indian families in multiple states who adopted or sought to adopt Native American children.

Opponents of the law called it an unconstitutional race-based intrusion on states' powers to govern adoptions. But the 5th Circuit majority disagreed, saying the law's definition of an "Indian child" is a political classification.

The decision was a victory for supporters of the law who say it's needed to protect and preserve Native American culture and families.

New Mexico Prepares To Overhaul Medical Marijuana MarketAssociated Press

A hearing officer has endorsed key provisions of a plan to shore up cannabis supplies to New Mexico's medical marijuana program without flooding the expanding market.

State Health Department Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel now has the final say on whether to limit medical cannabis cultivation to 1,750 mature plants per producer. In recommendations released Friday, that production cap was endorsed by an official assigned to monitor public hearings in July.

Medical cannabis producers are divided on whether the proposed plant limits are good for suppliers and customers. Ultra Health is the state's largest medical cannabis distributor and favors a much higher per-producer cap of 5,000 mature plants and unlimited seedlings.

The new proposed rules also would allow medical marijuana patients to renew their enrollment every three years, instead of annually.

Judge Rules Man Who Killed 5 As A Teen To Receive Adult SentenceAssociated Press

A judge has ruled that a New Mexico man who shot and killed his parents and three young siblings when he was a teenager will be sentenced as an adult.

The ruling in Nehemiah Griego's case was handed down Friday — nearly four years after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death in the January 2013 shootings at his family's home south of Albuquerque.

Judge Alisa Hart recently took Griego's case after a judge who had been overseeing it and monitoring his rehabilitation for years recused himself.

Hart found Griego was not amenable for treatment as a child in state facilities, a factor in her decision whether to sentence him as a juvenile or adult.

Forecasters Warn Of Wet Weekend In New MexicoAssociated Press

Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque are warning that the weekend will be very wet.

They said Friday that a deep plume of moisture will shift north into New Mexico through Sunday and lead to a monsoon "burst" pattern.

The combination of abundant moisture, slow-moving storm and elevated soil moisture will increase the potential for flash flooding Saturday and Sunday.

Widespread rainfall amounts from a half-inch to an inch are likely with locally higher amounts of 2 inches.

The heaviest rainfall is expected to hit the western half of the state, and the greatest risk for thunderstorms with flash flooding will occur from early afternoon into the evening hours each day.

Thunderstorm Forces Cancellation Of Horse Racing At RuidosoAssociated Press

Officials at a horse racing track in southern New Mexico say a severe storm has forced them to cancel races for the afternoon.

Ruidoso Downs' president and general manager Jeff True said Friday that the races were called off to ensure the safety of the jockeys and horses. He says the conditions were such that activities couldn't continue.

Racing is expected to resume Saturday afternoon.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque say chances are increasing for more widespread rainfall through Sunday as the monsoon season continues in New Mexico.

The moisture has been spotty, meaning abnormally dry conditions are still hanging in parts of southern New Mexico. The latest drought map also shows much of the state's northwest corner is still dealing with moderate drought.

New Mexico Denies ICE Request For Access To Workforce Data Associated Press

New Mexico has denied repeated requests by federal immigration authorities for direct access to an employment-records database.

New Mexico Workforce Solutions Department Secretary Bill McCamley said Thursday that he has twice notified officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement that the state will not provide direct, complete access to an unemployment database with extensive records about employees and employers throughout the state.

McCamley says the state will consider requests by the federal immigration authorities for specific information about employers that include an explanation and justification.

In email correspondence, an ICE investigative assistant based in El Paso, Texas, said that access to New Mexico's workforce database was needed to quickly fulfill requests by case agents.

An ICE spokeswoman had no immediate comment and the investigative assistant did not return calls.

New Mexico Governor Wary Of Fast Reforms On US Terrorism - Associated Press

The administration of New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is throwing cold water on the idea of a special legislative session to address concerns of domestic terrorism.

Lujan Grisham's office issued an unusual statement from a senior policy adviser on Thursday that said it would be wrong to call a special session without more planning.

In response to mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf has suggested the governor reconvene the Legislature, which adjourned for the year in March.

Adviser Dominic Gabello says newly signed gun-control legislation has expanded background checks on private gun sales and better protects domestic-violence victims.

He says work is under way on a "red flag" bill to seize weapons from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others with a judge's authorization.

New Mexico County Tracks Drug Use With GIS MapAssociated Press

Officials have launched a digital mapping tool to track the places where heroin needles and syringes are found in New Mexico's largest city.

Bernalillo County officials say the app is part of a push to collect data and track drug use in Albuquerque and elsewhere in their jurisdiction.

They say volunteers, and city and county workers have collected about 13,000 needles since May 2018. A crew collected more than 80 Friday at an abandoned property in northeast Albuquerque.

Officials say they hope the data will help guide drug policy decisions and help avoid duplicating clean-up efforts.

A spokesman for Bernalillo County's Department of Behavioral Health Services says he isn't aware of current efforts elsewhere to use GIS mapping to track drug use, though other counties have attempted similar initiatives in the past.

New Mexico County Wants App To Track Found Heroin Needles - Associated Press

Officials plan to begin using an app to track the number of heroin needles that clean-up crews collect across New Mexico's largest city.

Bernalillo County officials say the app is part of their push to collect data on drug use in Albuquerque and elsewhere in their jurisdiction. They say volunteers, and city and county workers have collected about 13,000 needles since May 2018.

An app the county is launching Friday will include a live map, showing where needles and syringes have been collected, helping to show trends and migration of drug use.

The public can log clean-up efforts into the app.

National Forest Planning Spurs Worries For Hispanic Ranchers Associated Press

Hispanic ranchers in New Mexico are asking President Donald Trump and top federal officials to ensure the latest round of forest management planning considers traditional values and land uses that date back centuries.

The Northern New Mexico Stockman's Association contends local managers have been unwilling to address their concerns about a proposed management plan for the Carson National Forest.

They're pushing for the president to intervene, citing a long history in which they claim the federal government has ignored the property rights of Hispanic ranchers in the Southwest.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a recent letter to the ranchers that forest officials in New Mexico have acknowledged the region's unique history and its traditional and cultural ways of life.

Meetings on the plan are scheduled for the coming weeks.

Man And Nephew Accused Of Making Threats vs Santa Fe Police - Associated Press

A man and a teenage boy have been arrested for allegedly making threats against Santa Fe police.

New Mexico State Police say 50-year-old Joseph Moises Ortiz Jr. III and his 16-year-old nephew were taken into custody Thursday.

They say Ortiz is jailed without bond on suspicion of assault with intent to commit a violent felony upon a peace officer and use of a telephone to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend.

The teenager was booked into a juvenile detention center with no bond on suspicion of making a bomb scare and assault with intent to commit a violent felony upon a peace officer.

Santa Fe police say the telephoned threat came Tuesday night.

The suspects allegedly are dissatisfied with the outcome of a case investigated by Santa Fe police.

Autopsy Shows FBI Agent Shot Man 8 Times In Albuquerque Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

An autopsy report indicates that an off-duty FBI agent shot a Utah veterinarian eight times when he entered an Albuquerque brewery with a gun.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Wednesday that the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator report shows 43-year-old Cody Wrathall was shot in the chest, arms and back on June 8.

The FBI has released little information about the brewery shooting, saying it's still under investigation.

FBI spokesman Frank Fisher declined to discuss the case Wednesday.

The state report says Wrathall had sat at a table with two agents and later exited the brewery.

The report says he went back inside, brandished a gun and possibly fired it before he was shot.

Plane Spins On Runway While Landing At Santa Fe Airport Associated Press

Authorities say the Santa Fe Regional Airport was closed for up to two hours Thursday after a small plane spun on a runway while landing.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said two people were aboard the single-engine plane and that nobody was injured.

Lunsford said the plane spun when the pilot "lost directional control while landing."

Airport Operations Manager John Dickinson said the plane "was a little banged up" and that closure curtailed flights for over 90 minutes.

Dickinson said he didn't have details on the affected flight operations.