Gov. asks justices to uphold $5,000 fines - Albuquerque Journal

Gov. asks justices to uphold $5,000 fines

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

SANTA FE – Attorneys for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham are asking the state Supreme Court to resolve legal questions over the administration’s authority to issue hefty fines for violating emergency public health orders.

The request comes after about a dozen business owners and companies accused Lujan Grisham of improperly threatening businesses with daily $5,000 fines if they reopen their businesses in violation of the health orders.

The businesses filed a lawsuit – backed by the Republican Party of New Mexico – in state District Court challenging the fines.

The Supreme Court issued an order staying the lower-court proceedings and asking the plaintiffs to respond to the governor’s petition by this coming Monday. The justices, however, haven’t decided whether to take the case.

Lujan Grisham attorneys Matthew Garcia and Jonathan Guss urged the Supreme Court to step in now rather than let the lawsuit work its way through other courts, only to reach the justices eventually.

The state’s ability to issue meaningful fines “is a novel legal issue with significant public safety and health implications for all New Mexicans,” they said in a 30-page petition.

At stake are the size of the fines Lujan Grisham’s administration can issue and whether the state would have to compensate business owners for financial losses triggered by state-mandated closures.

The plaintiffs, for example, say the state is limited by law to fines of $100 or less, not the $5,000 penalty cited by Lujan Grisham’s administration.

Her attorneys, however, say the state has emergency authority as part of its police powers to levy the larger fines – necessary to ensure enforcement of public health orders during an emergency such as the coronavirus pandemic.

The temporary closure of businesses, the state says, doesn’t entitle the owners to compensation.

The plaintiffs include the owners of K-Bob’s Steakhouse in Clovis, an outdoor mercado in the Socorro area, Frontier Auto Inc., Body & Sol Fitness, Kemp’s Investments, Colfax Tavern & Diner, and J. Jones Massage.

They filed suit in Curry County, where the case was assigned to Judge David Reeb in the 9th Judicial District.


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
Former Los Lunas schools superintendent settles lawsuit against district ...
ABQnews Seeker
Settlement includes $200K in lost wages, ... Settlement includes $200K in lost wages, $400K for emotional distress, attorneys' fees
2
DA removed from homicide case
ABQnews Seeker
FARMINGTON – A New ... FARMINGTON – A New Mexico judge has ruled that a district attorney's office must be replaced ...
3
Man who made videos of child sex abuse sentenced ...
ABQnews Seeker
Unknown girl, 6 or younger, seen ... Unknown girl, 6 or younger, seen in one
4
Lawsuit: MDC inmate hung self unnoticed by staff
ABQnews Seeker
Video shows man hanging 1 hour, ... Video shows man hanging 1 hour, 19 minutes before being seen by jail staff
5
Man charged in ABQ crash that left friend dead
ABQnews Seeker
Police say driver showed signs of ... Police say driver showed signs of pot, opioid use
6
Supreme Court halts citizen-led grand juries to probe governor
ABQnews Seeker
Filings in three counties sought to ... Filings in three counties sought to investigate alleged 'malfeasance' in governor's handling of pandemic
7
Mother accused of taking son over vaccine concerns
ABQnews Seeker
State Police say boy found safe ... State Police say boy found safe in Texas, mother in custody
8
Guilty plea adds six years to child abuser's sentence
ABQnews Seeker
Children's teachers alerted authorities to the ... Children's teachers alerted authorities to the situation
9
Lawsuit: Baldwin had no reason to fire in 'Rust' ...
ABQnews Seeker
A lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges that ... A lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges that Alec Baldwin recklessly fired a gun when it wasn't called for in the script when he shot and ...