Last week—seemingly without warning—Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham fired New Mexico Public Education Secretary Karen Trujillo for failing to meet expectations as the state's education secretary. Trujillo had been in the position for less than six months. In a statement, the governor said the state is searching nationwide to find a replacement, but did not give any details about the reasons behind dismissing Trujillo.
In an interview with KVIA in El Paso, Trujillo said she was “shocked and surprised” by the governor's decision. “I felt I was leading the Public Education Department in a very positive direction,” she said. Recent test scores released days after Trujillo was fired found that less than a third of New Mexico's public and charter school students are proficient in reading and only around one-fifth are proficient in math.
Lujan Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki told reporters that Trujillo was asked to resign but refused. Deputy Secretary Kara Bobroff will serve as interim secretary until a permanent replacement can be found.
White Case Could Be Dismissed
A judge says he wants to throw out the state's case against former Torrance County Sheriff and suspended Magistrate Court Judge Heath White for allegedly stealing guns and equipment.
White has been accused of taking around $150,000 worth of equipment and guns from the Torrance County Sheriff's Office. New Mexico State Police found some of the missing items at a store owned by White. The former sheriff also returned some of the items after the investigation began. According to KOB, White claims he was storing the weapons due to a lack of space at the Sheriff's Office.
During a preliminary hearing, District Court Judge Charles Brown threatened to suppress the evidence and dismiss charges because a search warrant had misleading information. He reportedly said, “This case will not go forward with my name on it.”
Prosecutors have been given until Aug. 2 to submit a brief and convince the judge to move forward with the case.
Election Changes Challenged
A new law that would spread out the dates of local elections more evenly is being challenged.
The Associated Press reports that HB 407, “Election Laws 50-Year Tune-Up,” will reschedule election dates for local prosecutors, judges and county officials—but in what some are calling an oversight, it would also shorten or lengthen some terms by two years. The state's district attorneys are fighting to invalidate the portion of the law that applies to their offices and asking the New Mexico Supreme Court to declare the law unconstitutional. They claim that a Constitutional amendment and statewide vote would be required to enact the new changes. By law, district attorneys can only serve a four-year term, bringing into question how the state will handle officials whose terms were to end in 2020 but will now be extended until 2022.
Last week the court announced it will be hearing complaints against the law on Sept. 12.