NM Supreme Court Declines to Take Up WHOA v. NMLB

scales_of_justiceLast week, the New Mexico Supreme Court declined to hear the Wild Horse Observers Association (WHOA) v. New Mexico Livestock Board (NMLB) case concerning free-roaming horses in Placitas. The state Supreme Court receives dozens of petitions a year and can only take on so many cases, so they choose the most interesting or pressing ones. Placitas horse issues didn’t make the cut.

A District Court judge had dismissed the case back in July 2014 because she didn’t think WHOA’s primary argument — that Placitas free-roaming horses aren’t livestock and shouldn’t be treated as such by NMLB — held water. WHOA appealed the decision. In August, the Court of Appeals weighed in, disagreed with the District Court’s dismissal of the case on the particular grounds that it cited, and sent the case back to District Court.

But first, the NMLB petitioned the Supreme Court in September to review the Court of Appeals ruling. So did the group of Placitas residents that has joined NMLB as defendants in the case.*

Since the Supreme Court isn’t interested in the case, it now goes back to District Court for further proceedings. The judge will look further at the several arguments presented by both sides and ultimately issue a new ruling. This will all take awhile. We’ll keep you posted.

3/17/16 update: WHOA has incorrectly stated that the NM Supreme Court ruled on the case and ruled 4-0 in WHOA’s favor. See our recent post.

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*Disclosure: The editors of this blog, together with other Placitas residents, joined the lawsuit as “defendants by intervention” in support of NMLB and private property rights.