Morning Word

SCOTUS Rebuffs Cowboys for Trump Griffin’s Appeal

“Rust” armorer files emergency motion seeking new trial, release

US Supreme Court rejects Griffin appeal

The US Supreme Court yesterday rebuffed former Otero County Commissioner and Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin’s request for an appeal of a Sept. 6, 2022 ruling by New Mexico First Judicial District Judge Francis J Mathew that barred Griffin from holding public office due to his participation in the June 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol. Mathew ruled Griffin’s participation in the events of Jan. 6 disqualified him from public office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment in the suit brought by various residents in Santa Fe and Los Alamos counties, backed by Washington DC-based Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Griffin’s lawyer tells The Washington Post he is seeking ways to return the case to New Mexico courts for a new trial. Griffin’s appeal, the Post reports, relied on similar arguments former President Donald Trump used in his successful argument to the Supreme Court challenging Colorado’s decision to keep him off the ballot. Both cases referenced Section 3 of the 14th Amendment—created to bar former Confederates from holding office—and both had the backing of CREW, whose president, Noah Bookbinder, issued the following statement yesterday regarding Griffin’s case: “By refusing to take up this appeal, the Supreme Court keeps in place the finding that January 6th was an insurrection, and ensures that states can still apply the 14th Amendment’s disqualification clause to state officials. Crucially, this decision reinforces that every decision-making body that has substantively considered the issue has found that January 6th was an insurrection, and Donald Trump engaged in that insurrection. Now it is up to the states to fulfill their duty under Section 3 to remove from office anyone who broke their oath by participating in the January 6th.”

Former Rust armorer seeks trial, release

Lawyers for Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the former Rust armorer recently found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the on-set fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, want their client released and given a new trial. Gutierrez-Reed’s sentencing hearing is currently scheduled for April 15; she faces up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. In an emergency motion filed March 15, attorneys Jason Bowles and Monnica Barreras cite a New Mexico Supreme Court ruling from just the day before that reversed a child abuse conviction (New Mexico versus Taylor; Exhibit A in prior link) on the basis of a jury instruction error, which they say is applicable in Gutierrez-Reed’s case. Those instructions (exhibit B in the prior link) were given over the defense’s objections, the motion says, and allow for the type of “and/or” instructions the state Supreme Court just ruled “could confuse the jury and lead to a non unanimous verdict on any particular act.” Meanwhile, lawyers for Rust actor/producer Alec Baldwin asked the court March 14 to dismiss his own involuntary manslaughter case in Hutchins’ death. In the filing, attorneys argue special prosecutors violated court orders in the grand jury process that indicted their client for a second time years after the incident, including disclosing information about the proceedings to the press and failing to present to the grand jury most of the “significant exculpatory and favorable witnesses and documents’' provided by Baldwin, despite orders from the court to do so.

Supreme Court overturns PRC fine on utilities

In yet more court news, the state Supreme Court yesterday voided a $10,000 penalty imposed on Public Service Company of New Mexico and Avangrid, Inc. as well as its corporate affiliates, over “the incomplete disclosure of information during regulatory proceedings about their proposed merger,” a news release says. The nonprecedential decision decrees the Public Regulation Commission’s sanction—issued as part of the PRC’s 2021 rejection of the PNM/Avangrid merger—was “overbroad and must be vacated.” That sanction, imposed on PNM, Iberdrola, Avangrid and its subsidiaries came in response to Avangrid’s lack of full disclosure regarding “violations and fines against the company and its affiliates,” a news release notes, making the fine “unreasonable and unlawful” because the PRC levied it against all the parties, not just Avangrid. The information was requested during the discovery phase of the regulatory case when the parties exchange evidence and other materials. Avangrid nixed its proposal to acquire PNM in January while an appeal remained pending; PNM’s challenge of the $10,000 fine was the only remaining issue.

Phase 2 of city streetlight conversion starts this summer

A new contract will set in motion the second phase of the city’s mission to convert streetlights to LED luminaries, following the Santa Fe City Council’s Feb. 28 approval of a $568,511 agreement with the Public Service Company of New Mexico to convert approximately 1,100 of its streetlights. Approximately 900 more PNM-owned streetlights await replacement in a third phase of the conversion project. City of Santa Fe Traffic Operations Engineer Michael Dalmolin tells SFR that number is “a ballpark estimate” based on other conversions PNM has done, including in Albuquerque. The city first needs to see how far the contract amount will take them with “biblical” inflation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dalmolin adds. While the contract doesn’t dictate specifically which of its roughly 2,000 lights to replace, Dalmolin says his priority will be mercury vapor ones versus high-pressure sodium. “Those are going to be prioritized because they don’t meet our current roadway guidelines. They also have the added benefit that they cost a lot more. They’re 15% or 20% more expensive per month than the high-pressure sodium,” he says. “The other criteria is based on constituents. We have a lot of constituents that are making requests to have the conversion done, and we can shield LEDs a lot better and direct the light a lot better…because they’re full cut-offs.”

Listen up

Author Miriam Sagan tells SFR it took her four years—including some of the COVID-19 lockdown period—to write her latest novella, Commune of the Golden Sun (Cholla Needles, 2024), set in a not-so-distant dystopian New Mexico, in which a group of young survivors leave the commune in which they were raised to explore the world they had been told no longer existed. Sagan, who founded and ran Santa Fe Community College’s creative writing program until her retirement and has written 30 books poetry, memoir and fiction, will read from her novella at at 5:30 pm today in an online event, “Leaving Utopia: A Reading and Discussion with Miriam Sagan,” which will include a discussion and writing tips for approaching the short novel, writing through difficult times and more (register at

Wake up and smell the lavender

National Geographic magazine has tips for those who enjoy fragrant blossoms in their travels, offering up a list of nine hotels where you can “wake up and smell the flowers.” Albuquerque’s Los Poblanos Inn & Organic Farm delivers on the blooming front, thanks to its fields of lavender, which not only scent the air but also is used for Los Poblanos’ “house-made gin poured at the inn’s bar, lotions used in the spa, and shampoos stocked in rooms and suites.” (The 25 acres also sport herbs and rose gardens.) Speaking of fresh air, Condé Nast Travel includes New Mexico on its list of “great American road trip” ideas, specifically the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway between Albuquerque and Taos: “The 56-mile road weaves through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains—a range of lush hillsides and orchards—and then passes through tiny towns like Chimayó and the summit village of Truchas,” the magazine notes. “And remember, this area has some of the darkest skies in the country, so you can clamber out and stargaze if your drive edges into nighttime.” In between soaking in the scenery, travelers can also stop to nosh, with a specific shout-out for Rancho de Chimayó as one winds their way north. And speaking of driving and New Mexico, recommends a stop at City of Rocks State Park, halfway between Silver City and Deming. “Because of the way the ancient lava flowed, you can easily hike on, among, and between the HUGE rocks, just as you could walk the streets in most cities—for instance, Bedrock,” Cheri Sicard writes. “I half expected to see Fred and Barney coming around a boulder at any moment.”

Seen at the museum

Boing Boing dishes out praise for Santa Fe’s Museum of International Folk Art, which it describes as a “must-see” for anyone in Santa Fe: “The collection of art here is truly magical, ranging from whimsical, handmade masks to exquisitely detailed dioramas to hand-carved, wooden dolls,” Boing Boing author Popkin writes. “When visiting for the first time, it brought tears to my eyes to be surrounded by so many fantastically unique objects.” While the museum’s core collection of thousands of objects (masks, puppets, ceramics, you name it) can be accessed by visitors anytime (and online), be sure to catch the exhibition Protection: Adaptation and Resistance before it closes April 7. As described by the museum, the traveling exhibition of more than 45 Alaska Native artists explores “themes of climate crisis, struggles for social justice, strengthening communities through ancestral knowledge, and imagining a thriving future.” Writing about the exhibition in the spring edition of El Palacio magazine, Annie Wenstrup, a Dena’ina writer living in Fairbanks, Alaska, explores Alaska artists’ work in the show related to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples epidemic. The Alaska Native artists, Wenstrup writes in her essay, “Grief’s Outline, Memory’s Shape,” resist “erasure of culture, history and contemporary identity. Through artwork, song and story they document experiences and values of Alaska Native Peoples,” and in so doing, “contest the assumed invisibility of missing and murdered Indigenous Peoples.”

Happy spring

The National Weather Service forecasts a mostly sunny day, with a high temperature near 48 degrees and north wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon. We have a 20% chance for precipitation tonight, as spring begins, wth rain and snow showers.

Thanks for reading! The Word has at least one friend who will be mocking her mercilessly within moments for the following admission, but she’ll feel better if she confesses to watching Justin Timberlake’s Tiny Desk concert. Twice.

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