ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The state’s highest court is concerned people are afraid to serve on juries because they’re not being protected from the coronavirus in courtrooms. Lawmakers told KRQE News 13 jurors have complained that law enforcement officers who provide security at courthouses are not wearing masks and it’s a problem that has the attention of the state Supreme Court.
“We’ve had this problem with sheriff deputies who provide security for the district courts throughout the state,” said Supreme Court Justice Judith Nakamura. During a legislative interim meeting on Thursday, Justice Nakamura told lawmakers they’ve had complaints from jurors about law enforcement agencies not following COVID-19 safe practices at courthouses.
“In the course of the conversation, we learned the courts are having problems with certain areas in law enforcement which were not following orders and procedures that they are required to wear masks,” said Sen. Joseph Cervantes (D-Las Cruces). “They’re around jurors and running security and entrances to courthouses.”
“Finally about three weeks ago, when pictures were taken by some lawyers of some sheriffs, even using them in our courtrooms using them as chin straps when judges weren’t there, pictures were sent to the emergency response team of deputies at the courthouse entrances,” said Justice Nakamura.
Lawmakers have now asked the state’s Supreme Court to investigate. “And that’s so shocking to the committee,” said Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas (D-Albuquerque). “You know, why stress out the jurors? They want to go to a courtroom that is safe, it’s just a common courtesy.”
Legislators said if law enforcement officers are not following the public health order or the state’s Supreme Court’s order, which requires them to wear PPE in the courthouse, they could face jail time. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said if this is happening and doesn’t get resolved, she will send State Police to work at the courthouses instead.
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