New Mexico

Gov. Martinez vetoes emergency funding for New Mexico judiciary

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Charles Daniels is warning criminal cases will be dismissed if funding for juries is not approved soon.

Daniels reacted Thursday to Governor Susana Martinez's veto of emergency court funding for the judiciary.

The justice says money will run out to pay jurors in early March without new funding, shutting down jury trials and likely leading to dismissals based on the right to a speedy trial. The judiciary continues to seek funds from an executive board overseen by the governor and by separate legislative action.

The justice and district court judges described austerity measures that include canceled spending on court security, office supplies, travel expenses and clerks' office hours as well as widespread hiring delays.

The vetoed provision of the bill would have provided $800,000 to bolster funding for jurors and court interpreters that could be exhausted in early March. Martinez says the jury funding should not be approved without further public discussion of how courts can operate more efficiently.

A veto message from the governor excoriates lawmakers for not making deeper cuts to their own operating budget, amid plunging state revenues linked to a downturn in the oil and natural gas sectors and a stagnant economy.

Senate Democrats criticized the move as irresponsible and disheartening.

The Administrative Office of the Courts says it needs an additional $1.6 million to pay for juries during the fiscal year ending in June. The state Supreme Court says it will start furloughing staff and close for nine days if it does not receive an additional $80,000 soon to pay salaries.

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