Created: April 08, 2020 08:37 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions, a man who once lived in Carlsbad, but now lives in Texas wanted to know why the Carlsbad Magistrate Court demanded he be physically present for a traffic citation court proceeding.
“I was down (in Carlsbad) working on a project, but that project ended so now I live just outside of Houston,” Eric Peters said during a FaceTime interview with the KOB 4 Investigates Team.
In December 2019, Peters received a traffic citation for careless driving. He said after he left a friend’s house, he accelerated too quickly causing his truck to fishtail. The move caught the eye of a police officer and that officer cited Peters with the misdemeanor traffic citation.
Peter’s case is scheduled for a non-jury trial later this month, but with stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions in Texas and New Mexico, Peters called the court and asked if he could participate telephonically or via a web-based conferencing site like Zoom or Skype.
“I don't want to travel across two states and put everybody at risk,” Peters said.
The court was in violation of an order issued March 23 by the New Mexico Supreme Court in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In part, the order states, "all judges are now required to use telephonic or audio-visual attendance for court appearances."
On this issue, a spokesman for the New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts added, “an order of the Supreme Court last month requires all state courts to use remote appearances by parties, unless there's an emergency that requires in-person appearances or the parties request to appear in person.”
The KOB 4 Investigates Team called the magistrate court to ask why it was seemingly giving Peters misinformation and defying the Supreme Court’s orders. A receptionist said the court’s manager would return the call, but no one from the court responded.
But, after the 4 Investigates Team started asking questions on Peters’ behalf, someone from the Carlsbad Magistrate Court called Peters to inform him that his court proceeding would now be done telephonically.
Copyright 2020 - KOB-TV LLC, A Hubbard Broadcasting Company