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New Mexico Courts

Tribunales de Nuevo México

WEBCAST OF SUPREME COURT HEARING AND ORDER ON AUG. 4, 2020 IN PUBLIC HEALTH CASE

CLICK HERE for a webcast of the state Supreme Court hearing on Aug. 4, 2020 in a case concerning enforcement of public health emergency orders. View the order issued by the Court on Aug.4 following the hearing and the writ of superintending control. The case is Lujan Grisham v. Reeb, No. S-1-SC-38336.

PROTECTIVE FACE COVERINGS REQUIRED IN NM COURTHOUSES

Any person entering a New Mexico courthouse or judicial building must wear a mask or other protective face covering to help control the spread of COVID-19. The requirement starts May 16, 2020 under an order by the state Supreme Court.

Courts will be prepared to provide masks to people without one when they need to enter a court facility.

Court staff and judicial officers in appellate, district, magistrate, metropolitan, municipal and probate courts and the Administrative Office of the Courts also must wear masks in the workplace.

“State health officials have made it abundantly clear that if each of us wears a mask in public we can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” said Justice Judith K. Nakamura. “Our courts provide essential services to the public so we continue to take all steps necessary to safeguard the health and well-being of people who work in or need to visit a courthouse.”

JURY TRIALS TO RESUME IN NEW MEXICO COURTS

Jury trials are resuming subject to approval by the New Mexico Supreme Court of plans by courts for protecting the public health and safety as courthouse operations expand.

An order issued May 28 by the Supreme Court lifted a suspension on jury trials in criminal and civil cases that has been in place since March. 

 “As our state gradually reopens, courts can safely resume jury trials as local conditions permit,” said Justice Judith K. Nakamura. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, New Mexico courts have worked diligently to protect the health of people entering a courthouse. In resuming jury trials, our courts will rigorously follow COVID-safe practices developed by public health authorities.”

Before courts can recommence jury trials, the chief judge in the judicial district must submit individualized plans for Supreme Court approval that detail the operating procedures and precautions implemented for courts in that district. These include steps for safeguarding jurors, lawyers, witnesses and others during a trial, how to maintain minimum 6-foot physical distancing of people in courtrooms and jury selection rooms, and the use of plexiglass dividers and other protective barriers in a courthouse.

New Mexico's appellate, district, magistrate and metropolitan courts have remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic with public health precautions ordered by the Supreme Court to help control the spread of the virus.

Judges are conducting audio and video teleconferencing for non-jury civil and criminal proceedings, except when an emergency requires in-person appearances. This lessens the need for attorneys and litigants to appear in-person at courthouses. Courts are using a variety of platforms, including Google Meet, to facilitate videoconferencing and telephonic appearances. Please check with your local court for arrangements about proceedings to be conducted remotely. 

If you have questions about a specific court’s operations, please check their webpage for additional information and telephone numbers. Links for appellate, district, magistrate and metropolitan courts can be found at the Judiciary’s home page. Updates about the state courts also can be found on Twitter @nmcourts. For additional information and updates on Coronavirus and the Courts, please click here.

Other measures in place at state courts during the COVID-19 public health emergency:

  • Provide more time for people to pay fines and fees. A Supreme Court order adds 30 days to the payment deadline imposed by a magistrate, metropolitan, district or municipal court for fines and fees that must be paid between March 19 and May 29, 2020, and for fines due between May 30 and June 30, 2020.
  • Require courts to screen visitors to courthouses and deny access to people displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or who have traveled to a COVID-19 high-risk area.
  • Allow self-represented litigants to submit case filings to local courts by email and fax.
  • Permit attorneys to email or fax pleadings in case types that previously were not eligible for electronic filings.
  • Temporarily suspend the ability of lawyers to excuse a judge from presiding over a criminal and civil case. By suspending the peremptory excusal rules, courts can better manage their caseloads within precautionary directives and distribute cases among all available judges.
  • Limit the number of inmates transported from jails to courthouses for hearings.
  • Provide for enhanced cleaning procedures in buildings that house courthouses not owned by the New Mexico Judiciary. 
  • Suspend out-of-state work-related travel by judicial employees and judges and require a 14-day self-isolation period for those who travel out-of-state for personal reasons on or after March 18.

CUSTOMER SERVICE CALL CENTER

The Administrative Office of the Courts operates a centralized call center that can provide basic information in English and Spanish about court services, cases and how to comply with citations, summonses and warrants. The service is available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.,  Monday through Friday. Call 855-court-4 or 855-268-7804.

EVICTIONS PAUSED FOR INABILITY TO PAY RENT

The state Supreme Court has paused evictions for New Mexicans who prove that they are unable to pay rent during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about eviction stay.

The Court issued an order on March 26 that temporarily postpones the carrying out of eviction orders against New Mexicans who provide a judge with evidence that they are unable to pay their rent on a mobile home lot. This action offers the same protections against the loss of housing during the public health emergency that the Court provided to tenants of apartments and certain other places of residence in an order issued March 24.

The governor has directed New Mexicans to stay at home, except under limited circumstances. Temporarily preventing evictions from being carried out because of a person’s inability to pay rent will help families and individuals follow the governor’s directive to remain in their homes to help guard against the spread of COVID-19.

If a landlord begins an eviction proceeding, the renter will receive a summons that notifies them of the lawsuit and explains that they can participate in a hearing before a judge. Court hearings are conducted by video or telephone during the public health emergency, unless the parties ask to appear in person. To stop an eviction, renters - whether of land in a mobile home park or an apartment - must participate in the hearing and provide the judge with evidence of their current inability to pay their rent. If sufficient evidence is provided by the tenant, judges will stay the execution of writs of restitution that property owners can obtain and give to law enforcement to force the removal of a tenant.

 “New Mexicans are struggling financially as workplaces close because of the public health emergency,” said Justice Judith K. Nakamura. “The Court’s order will provide temporary relief for families and individuals facing the possibly of losing their housing at a time when the governor and public health officials have ordered New Mexicans to remain at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

If you would like assistance with your eviction proceeding please contact:

  • New Mexico Legal Aid - 1-833-LGL-HELP (1-833-545-4357).
  • Senior Citizens Law Office - (505) 265-2300, (Serves residents of Bernalillo, Sandoval, Valencia and Torrance counties who are 60 or older.)
  • Legal Resources for the Elderly Program, 800-876-6657 statewide; 505-797-6005 in Albuquerque, (Statewide free legal helpline for NM residents 55 and older.)

The Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court offers a free mediation program for people involved in active landlord-tenant cases in that court. The program starts May 11. A trained facilitator will work with landlords and tenants to try to develop a business agreement beneficial to both sides. Click here for more details. People wishing to participate in the Landlord-Tenant Settlement Program should contact the Metro Court’s Mediation Division at (505) 841-8167.

 

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Media Contact Information

 

Administrative Office of the Courts

Barry Massey

Public Information Officer

Phone: 505-827-4805 office; 505-470-3436 cell

bmassey@nmcourts.gov

Beth Wojahn

Communications Officer

Phone: 505-827-4876 office; 505-469-5415 cell

bwojahn@nmcourts.gov

 

Second Judicial District Court

Sidney Hill

Public Information Officer

Phone: 505-841-7504

albdsxh@nmcourts.gov

 

Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court

Camille Baca

Public Information Officer

Phone: 505-401-6149

metrcrb@nmcourts.gov


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