Clovis resident still wants ruling on video lawsuit

Sharna Johnson

The county may have pulled a controversial video from the courthouse lobby before the Nov. 2 election after two Clovis men filed petition for a district court injunction, but the case isn’t being dropped.

Clovis resident Al Lewis, one of the petitioners in the case, said he wants a judge’s ruling on the matter so it doesn’t happen again.

“We just want a decision made by the courts that the county did overstep their bounds in what they tried to do, and that this was politically motivated, so we can keep it from happening again,” he said.

“They were just thinking it was going to go away (when they turned the video off) … We’re not looking out for any monetary decision or anything like that, we’re just asking for them to have to abide by the same rules that we have to abide by.”

Albuquerque attorney Jonlyn Martinez, who is representing Curry County in the case, said when the county removed the video, that was the end of the dispute, and, under statute, the end of the case.

“There is no controversy between the parties so it becomes a moot point,” she said.

Martinez said she will be filing a response motion this week arguing the case should be dismissed and that Graham and Lewis have no remedy according to case law.

Local district judges, four of whom were outspoken in their support of a new courthouse before the election, have recused themselves from the case.

Lewis and Graham’s attorney Eric Dixon has said the state supreme court will appoint a judge from outside the area to hear the case.

“We’d like a permanent injunction to prohibit them from putting campaign information and literature within 100 feet of a polling place … because this may occur again in the future,” Dixon said. “I am asking the courts to enforce the law, which includes brochures, signs, campaigning of any sort.”

The video played on a continuous loop and was situated in the entryway of the courthouse, in the same hallway as the clerk’s office where early and absentee voting is being conducted.

Lewis and J.W. Graham, in their Oct. 25 petition, stated they were seeking an injunction to have it removed or to allow contradictory information to be posted. They argued the video violates state law prohibiting campaigning within 100 feet of a polling location.

Critics of the video have said it promoted voter approval of a $33 million courthouse and jail, but county officials described it as “informational” and have said it didn’t recommend a vote for yes.

More than 72 percent of voters casting ballots defeated the two bond issues which would have raised property and gross receipts taxes to build the proposed jail and courthouse.