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One suit, three judges in gun litigation


Blair Dunn speaks during a rally for protecting gun rights outside the Roundhouse in Santa Fe last year. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — The lawsuit challenging two of New Mexico’s gun laws is now on its third judge.

The most recent excusal came when Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office — which is defending the state — bumped state District Judge Matt Chandler from the case.

Chandler is a former Republican attorney general candidate. He ran and lost to Democrat Gary King in 2010.

Earlier, the plaintiffs had used their own challenge to excuse Judge David Peter Reeb.

In New Mexico, each side in a case is typically permitted to challenge one judge without cause or explanation.

The lawsuit is now assigned to Judge Fred Van Soelen.

A conservative coalition filed the suit last month in Curry County, accusing state officials of illegally blocking their right to petition for the repeal of 10 bills passed in this year’s legislative session.

The New Mexico Patriots Advocacy Coalition is also challenging the constitutionality of two of the state’s new gun laws — one requiring background checks before gun sales, the other prohibiting gun possession by someone convicted of domestic abuse or stalking.

Blair Dunn, a former Libertarian candidate for attorney general, is representing the plaintiffs.

A spokesman for the state Attorney General’s Office has described the litigation as “frivolous.”


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