The Constitution, Loveless said, does not give lawmakers immunity from prosecution for crimes.
Legislature Claimed Executive Privilege
BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI
A state court judge has ordered the New Mexico Legislative Council Service to turn over records in connection with the criminal case against former state Sen. Phil Griego, and he has given the agency until June 22 to do so.
Bernalillo County District Court Judge Brett Loveless ordered the LCS to turn over the records in an ordered filed Monday and to comply with a subpoena issued by Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office for the records.
In his order, Loveless rejected the LCS’s motion to quash the subpoena on grounds that the New Mexico Constitution protects lawmakers from being questioned about their speech or votes during legislative sessions. The Constitution, Loveless said, does not give lawmakers immunity from prosecution for crimes.
“To extend the privilege beyond use of evidence of legislative acts or finding that it promotes confidentiality would be inconsistent with our system of our government and would do little to protect the integrity of the legislative process,” Loveless’ order said. “The purpose of the protection afforded legislators s not to forestall judicial review o the legislative action but to insure that legislators are not distracted or hindered in the performance of their legislative tasks by being into court to defend their actions.
“The LCS has no constitutional privilege to reuse to produce the materials.”
The LCS filed a motion last week asking Loveless to quash the AG’s subpoena. On Monday, Balderas’ office shot back with a motion that accused the LCS of obstructing the legal process.
“Most of the witnesses, including both private citizens and state employees, make no objection to these simple requests,” the AG’s motion said. “The Legislative Council Service (LCS), however takes a categorical stance, allegedly on behalf of unnamed legislators: We will not testify. Quash all subpoenas.”
Loveless did say that the LCS could refuse to turn over any records that constituted attorney client privilege.
Griego, a San Miguel County Democrat, is charged with nine crimes, including bribery, fraud, perjury in connection with the 2014 sale of a state-owned building. The sale had to be approved by the Legislature and Balderas’ office alleges that Griego didn’t tell lawmakers that he had an interest in the property. After the sale, Griego received a $50,000 fee for monitoring the sale.
Griego resigned during the 2015 legislative session rather than face possible disciplinary action over the matter.
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