Albuquerque: “The wife of an armed robbery suspect shot dead by a shop clerk said the clerk was wrong, and now she has filed a civil lawsuit claiming wrongful death….’He [deceased robber Ramon Sedillo] does bear some fault, but it’s like a pie. You divide out the fault accordingly, and [store clerk Matthew] Beasley could have done something different,’ [Sedillo family lawyer Amavalise] Jaramillo said.” [KRQE]
“A repeat drunken driver convicted in a crash that killed two teenagers has sued his drinking buddy and two Santa Fe restaurants that served him alcohol.” James Ruiz, who has since been convicted and incarcerated, “was out on bond on his fifth DWI arrest” when he slammed into the car of the teens’ family. [AP/WHEC; Albuquerque Journal, with headline above; UPI]
I’m pleased to report that I filed a friend-of-the-court brief, on behalf of the Cato Institute, Dale Carpenter, and myself, arguing that wedding photographers (and other speakers) have a First Amendment right to choose what expression they create, including by choosing not to photograph same-sex commitment ceremonies. All the signers of the brief support same-sex marriage rights; our objection is not to same-sex marriages, but to compelling photographers and other speakers [to create] works that they don’t want to create.
As Ilya Shapiro explains further at Cato, the litigation before the New Mexico Supreme Court hinges in substantial part on whether the photographers are entitled to claim religious-liberty protection against the discrimination claim, but the Cato amicus brief advances a distinct alternative theory under which they deserve to prevail:
Our brief explains that photography is an art form protected by the First Amendment because clients seek out the photographer’s method of staging, posing, lighting, and editing. Photography is thus a form of expression subject to the First Amendment’s protection, unlike many other wedding-related businesses (e.g., caterers, hotels, limousine drivers).
The amicus brief in Elane Photography v. Willock is here; I’m happy to say I played a bit part in helping to advance it. Earlier on the case here, here, and here; and more from George Will.
Pay up, EEOC tells a cafe owner, for not taking on a hearing- and speech-impaired applicant for a cashier’s position [EEOC press release (Albuquerque's Savory Fare Bakery and Cafe agrees to pay $20,000 and offer other relief), h/t Roger Clegg; related on cases where concern about cross-intelligibility between employee and customers leads to charges of "accent discrimination"] (& Bader, CEI; Scott Greenfield)
More: Alexander Cohen at Atlas has the complaint and answer, along with further analysis.
If you don’t pay your traffic-cam tickets, the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico says it will cut off your water and sewer service. [The Newspaper]
…break and enter into the house of your client’s husband to retrieve her possessions [Albuquerque lawyer Raymond Van Arnam, fined, sentenced to weekend jail time and ordered to pay restitution, but not deprived of his law license, on charges of misdemeanor criminal trespass and misdemeanor larceny; Above the Law]
Checking out a published report, Erik Magraken contacted former New Mexico state senator Duncan Scott and found that it was true, the lawmaker had indeed introduced a legislative amendment in 1995 providing that:
When a psychologist or psychiatrist testifies during a defendant’s competency hearing, the psychologist or psychiatrist shall wear a cone-shaped hat that is not less than two feet tall. The surface of the hat shall be imprinted with stars and lightning bolts. Additionally, a psychologist or psychiatrist shall be required to don a white beard that is not less than 18 inches in length, and shall punctuate crucial elements of his testimony by stabbing the air with a wand. Whenever a psychologist or psychiatrist provides expert testimony regarding a defendant’s competency, the bailiff shall contemporaneously dim the courtroom lights and administer two strikes to a Chinese gong…
The amendment — intended satirically, one should hasten to add –”passed with a unanimous Senate vote” but was removed from its bill before consideration by the state house and never became law. (& Coyote, Above the Law)
The anti-obesity campaign isn’t the only policy initiative that’s leading to regulatory scrutiny of high school bake sales. There’s Title IX and its state equivalents, too:
Controversy in New Mexico continues over booster club funding and Title IX implementation as discussion heats up over the state’s Schools Athletics Equity Act. The issue remains whether private donations raised by parents through bake sales and working concession stands, or whether philanthropic contributions by private businesses, should be pooled together and distributed among all boys and girls teams under the guise of Title IX equality — and regardless of which parents/teams raised what.
Not surprisingly, many expect volunteerism to droop if the chance to raising funds for your team’s road trip or new equipment is replaced by a new rule prescribing that you can only raise money for school sports generally and hope that some fraction gets passed through to your team. [Deborah Elson, Saving Sports; earlier on booster clubs]
Lawsuits fly in various directions arising from almost implausibly colorful fact patterns (“professor-dominatrix”) at the University of New Mexico English department [Chronicle of Higher Education]
We’ve previously encountered Arthur Firstenberg of Santa Fe, N.M., and his anti-wi-fi litigation. Now the self-reported sufferer from electromagnetic sensitivity “is suing his next-door neighbor for refusing to turn off her cell phone and other electronic devices,” saying his efforts to avoid the fields threatens to render him homeless. He also thinks neighbor Raphaela Monribot should pay him $530,000. He’s represented by lawyer Lindsay Lovejoy Jr. [Santa Fe New Mexican, The Register, DSL Reports]
More: alt-paper SFreeper (which seems to have been on the story first) reports that attorney Lovejoy “is a graduate of Harvard and Yale, as well as a former Assistant New Mexico Assistant Attorney General who has argued cases alongside now-US Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM.” (via Chris Fountain)
Albuquerque Journal, last month: “After deliberating for less than four hours, a Roswell jury decided that El Paso Natural Gas Co. is not liable for the emotional distress firefighters and emergency personnel suffered while responding to a pipeline explosion that killed 12 people, many of them children, in 2000.” Two years ago the New Mexico Supreme Court had allowed the suit to proceed, chipping away at the “firefighter’s rule” which traditionally barred recovery by rescuers against those who caused the accidents to which they were responding.
A New Mexico court has upheld state-levied fines against a photographer who refused a job taking pictures at a same-sex wedding (Elane Photography v. Willock). Eugene Volokh, who has written about the case previously, now has a series of posts on the implications of the court’s effort to force creators to “create speech that they don’t want to create.” He also adds posts on the religious accommodation angle, the inevitable what-about-racists objection, and the role of state laws prohibiting “discrimination” against customers based on their political beliefs. More: Timothy Kincaid, Box Turtle Bulletin (“time for New Mexico to change its law. …ultimately what kind of freedom will we have won to live our lives as we see best if it costs the freedom of others to do the same?”).
A New Mexico appeals court says the stadium can be sued. [AmLaw Daily]