STATE SUPREME COURT NEWS
The state Supreme Court has ordered a temporary moratorium on evictions for inability to pay rent during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
“New Mexicans are struggling financially as workplaces close because of the public health emergency,” said Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura. “The Court’s order will provide temporary relief for families and individuals facing the possibly of losing their housing at a time when the governor and public health officials have ordered New Mexicans to remain at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Under the Court’s order, judges will stay the execution of writs of restitution that property owners can obtain and give to law enforcement to force the removal of a tenant. Tenants will need to provide the court with evidence of their current inability to pay their rent.
If your landlord has filed a petition for a writ of restitution (an eviction or collection proceeding) against you for nonpayment of rent or any other reason you must participate in the hearing set by the judge. If you want the court to stay your eviction for NONPAYMENT OF RENT during the public health emergency, you will need to provide the judge with evidence of your current inability to pay your rent at the hearing on the petition.
The hearing will be held by video or phone, unless the parties file a motion for an in-person hearing. The summons you receive from the court will give you directions about how to participate in the hearing.
If you would like assistance with your eviction proceeding please contact:
- New Mexico Legal Aid – (505) 633-6694
- Senior Citizens Law Office – (505) 265-2300, (Serves residents of Bernalillo, Sandoval, Valencia and Torrance counties who are 60 or older.)
The Supreme Court’s order is the latest restriction and precautionary measure imposed on operations of state courts to protect public safety and safeguard the health of New Mexicans. Other measures provide New Mexican additional time to pay fines and fees, require the use of audio and video teleconferencing for court proceedings that need to continue and allow self-represented litigants to submit case filings to local courts by email and fax to help them avoid courthouse visits.
For more information about COVID-19 updates and the courts, please visit the NM Courts website.
Additional restrictions and public health precautions for operations of New Mexico courts have been ordered by the state Supreme Court to guard against the spread of COVID-19.
“Courts recognize that extraordinary steps are necessary to protect public safety and the health of New Mexicans. Our courts must continue to provide essential services in the justice system,” said Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura.
Under the Supreme Court’s order:
- While limits on “mass gatherings” established by the state public health order do not apply to courthouses because courts provide essential services, courts will limit the number of people to no more than 15 in courtrooms and other locations inside a courthouse to promote social distancing recommended by public health officials. Previously, the restriction was 25 or fewer people.
- Judges must conduct audio and video teleconferencing for civil and criminal proceedings, except when an emergency requires in-person appearances. This lessens the need for attorneys and litigants to appear in-person at courthouses. Courts are using Google Meet to facilitate teleconferencing because users can access the free service by creating a Google email account. Since the state declared a public health emergency, judges and litigants have been encouraged to use teleconferencing when possible.
If you have questions about a specific court’s operations, please check their webpage for additional information and telephone numbers. Links for appellate, district, magistrate and metropolitan courts can be found at the Judiciary’s home page under the NM Courts tab. Updates about the state courts also can be found on Twitter @nmcourts.
Other measures in place at state courts during the COVID-19 public health emergency:
- Provide more time for people to pay fines and fees. A Supreme Court order adds 30 days to the payment deadline imposed by a magistrate, metropolitan, district or municipal court for fines and fees that must be paid between March 19 and May 29, 2020. The extension does not apply to amounts past due.
- Require courts to screen visitors to courthouses and deny access to people displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or who have traveled to a COVID-19 high-risk area.
- Suspend civil jury and criminal jury trials that have not started.
- Allow self-represented litigants to submit case filings to local courts by email and fax.
- Permit attorneys to email or fax pleadings in case types that previously were not eligible for electronic filings.
- Temporarily suspend the ability of lawyers to excuse a judge from presiding over a criminal and civil case. By suspending the peremptory excusal rules, courts can better manage their caseloads within precautionary directives and distribute cases among all available judges.
- Limit the number of inmates transported from jails to courthouses for hearings.
- Provide for enhanced cleaning procedures in buildings that house courthouses not owned by the New Mexico Judiciary.
- Suspend out-of-state work-related travel by judicial employees and judges and require a 14-day self-isolation period for those who travel out-of-state for personal reasons on or after March 18.