- Judge approves penal reform settlement in New Mexico
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A judge has given final approval to a settlement ending a 40-year-old civil case that forced significant penal reforms in New Mexico. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Friday that U.S. Magistrate Judge Kirtan Khalsa approved Friday an agreement that would end the Duran Consent Decree if the state complies with certain requirements. The settlement says those requirements include moving about 300 inmates from overcrowded prisons to those with more capacity, requiring regular exterminator visits, prohibiting punishment for reporting sexual misconduct and banning facilities from operating at 120% of their capacity. Corrections Secretary Alisha Tafoya Lucero did not respond to a request seeking comment Friday.
- Former prosecutor appointed to New Mexico Court of Appeals
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A former state and federal prosecutor now in private practice in Albuquerque will be the newest judge on the New Mexico Court of Appeals. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's office announced Friday her appointment of Shammara Haley Henderson to fill a vacancy created by the Jan. 31 retirement of Judge M. Monica Zamora. A statement issued by the governor's office said Henderson is the first African-American to be appointed to the state Court of Appeals, according to Aja Brooks, president of the New Mexico Black Lawyers Association.
- Lawmaker wants to address violence directed at Native women
PROVO, Utah (AP) — Native American women face a murder rate that is more than 10 times the national average, and a Utah lawmaker wants to address the violence. The Daily Herald in Provo reports Democratic state Rep. Angela Romero said her top priority this year is her proposal to create a task force aimed at studying violence against indigenous women. Those crimes can be particularly challenging to investigate because they often involve many different agencies. The task force would report to lawmakers about what gaps exist and create a road map to prevent and address future violence. The Navajo Nation stretches across Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.
- Teen arrested at Albuquerque high school with 2 loaded guns
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a 16-year-old boy was arrested after being found with two loaded guns on the campus of his Albuquerque high school. The sophomore at Atrisco Heritage Academy was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon on school premises and unlawful carrying of a handgun by a person under age 19, officials said. The Associated Press is not publishing the boy's name because the AP generally does not identify juvenile crime defendants for privacy reasons. The boy was arrested after authorities received an anonymous tip about Snapchat videos showing guns and drugs and of a gun being fired out of a car window. The boy was released pending trial under conditions that include drug testing.
- New Mexico House speaker recuses himself on marijuana bill
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A top-ranked Democratic legislator who represents New Mexico's largest medical marijuana dispenser as a private attorney is recusing himself from activity on a bill regarding state residency rules for cannabis patients. Attorney and Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf of Santa Fe made the announcement Friday as a bill advances through the Legislature that would restrict enrollment in the state's medical cannabis program to New Mexico residents. Egolf represents medical cannabis company Ultra Health in a dispute with the state Health Department over residency requirements for medical cannabis program enrollment. State health officials say lawmakers unintentionally dropped the residency requirement.
- Governor urges leadership in enforcement of red-flag bill
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she hopes to see strong leadership in the law enforcement community to implement a red-flag gun initiative approved this week by the state's Democrat-led Legislature. The second-year Democratic governor told news reporters she plans to sign the bill as soon as possible. The law allows police and sheriffs deputies to petition a court for the surrender of household firearms from people who appear to pose a danger to themselves or others. Sheriffs and Republican political candidates for U.S. Congress have denounced the soon-to-be law in a state with the strong culture of gun ownership.
- Unemployment insurance available for power plant workers
PREWITT, N.M. (AP) — State labor officials say workers laid off as a result of the planned closure of a power plant in western New Mexico will be eligible for unemployment benefits. Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association announced earlier this year it would close the coal-fired Escalante Station. Layoffs are expected in March. State and local officials have said they are concerned about the economic effects the closure will have, especially in a rural region where jobs are scarce. State Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley says workers who will be forced to look for a new job should have access to a safety net as they transition.
- Man arrested in decades-old rapes in California, New Mexico
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — A man has been arrested in two decades-old rapes in California and New Mexico after authorities in Albuquerque were able to test rape kits that had been untested for years. Police in Mountain View, California, say detectives learned in January that DNA collected during a 2004 sexual assault investigation matched DNA from a 1997 rape case in Albuquerque. Police in New Mexico arrested 45-year-old Van Overton, Jr., and extradited him to California to face rape and other charges. It wasn't immediately known if Overton has an attorney who can speak on his behalf. Police say he will face charges in the Albuquerque rape on a later date.