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New Mexico AG's Complete Privilege Request Denied Regarding Riot Report Disclosure

The New Mexico State Attorney General (AG) motioned to prevent discovery disclosure of evidence and communications after a riot investigation. The court granted the AG executive privilege only but ordered judicial inspection to determine the appropriate disclosure.

Numerous suits were filed following a 1980 New Mexico State Penitentiary riot. Against the AG's intentions, a three judge panel ordered an in camera inspection to determine discovery request execution concerning case litigation. A subsequent successor of one of the three judges denied compliance with the panel's order regarding two pending individual cases, which spurred the AG's claim of absolute privilege regarding the disclosure.

The Supreme Court of New Mexico held that under the State's Constitution, Article III's separation of powers doctrine, only an executive privilege was required and that legislative intent required judicial inspection to determine the weighing of public interest. The court further held that communications between persons not within the executive department fell short of the privilege. The dissent would have granted the AG public interest privilege. See: State of New Mexico v. The First Judicial Court of New Mexico. 96 N.M. 254, 629 P.2d 330 (N.M. 1981).

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Related legal case

State of New Mexico v. The First Judicial Court of New Mexico