ALBUQUERQUE — The state Supreme Court is considering whether judges have the authority to order law enforcement agencies to expunge felony arrest records.
The New Mexico Supreme Court heard arguments in the case Wednesday, advancing the eight-year dispute between an Albuquerque police officer and a paramedic who was arrested for battery, The Albuquerque Journal reported.
Paramedic Christine Stump was arrested for battery on a police officer after she grabbed the arm of a police officer as the two argued about who had priority over a scene after a woman attempted suicide. Stump and the officer reached an agreement out of court and the criminal charges were dropped.
Public records, however, still show Stump has an arrest record.
Unlike most states, New Mexico law offers no guidance on the issue of expunging felony arrest records. Lawmakers have considered the issue at least 11 times since 2005 and passed four bills, all of which were vetoed.
Stump’s attorney, Jocelyn Drennan, argued that in the absence of state law, the justices need to take “lawmaking action” to give judges authority to expunge arrest records. She is asking that the case be sent back to district court with orders to expunge Stump’s record.
When Stump’s case went before 2nd Judicial District Judge Clay Campbell in 2015 he said he was sympathetic to Stump’s case, but that he did not have the authority to expunge her record.
Opponents of expungement argue the public has an interest in knowing why someone was arrested by law enforcement officers.
“It is almost never in the public interest to withdraw public records,” Greg Williams, lead attorney for the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, which argued against Stump’s case.