Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Passengers Liable in DWI Fatalities? Lovato case.

The Alfred Lovato case has, at least temporarily, focused attention on the legal theory of accessory liability. Right now, public enthusiasm for holding passengers responsible ranges from lukewarm to adamantly against. Attorney General King is very clear about his stance in this case.

“Our perspective on what happened is straightforward---two adult men decided they were going to get stinking drunk together; both decided they should drive despite being severely impaired; then they stopped to get snacks together; and both were in the car when they struck and killed a pedestrian. We are disappointed that the judge did not let the jury deliberate on our evidence because we believe they would have agreed with us that both men are responsible for William Tenorio’s death that tragic evening in Santa Fe," said Attorney General King. He added, “It is never a waste of time and resources to try to get justice for a man who was run over and killed by a couple of drunks.”

Lovato's acquittal on all charges is understandable but not discouraging to those who continue the fight against drunk driving in New Mexico. Why? One need only look back at our state's progress over the years to see and understand that most people's acceptance and behaviors concerning DWI have changed, albeit slowly.

In 1987 it was still legal to drive anywhere in the state with a cold beer in your lap until our 'open container' law was passed by the legislature. The public outcry contained statements like, "Hard working folks deserve a chance to unwind with a brewski on their way home..what's wrong with that?" Then in the 1990s, drive-up liquor sales were banned statewide, even though the citizens of McKinley County had the sense to ban them much earlier. Before that happened, some people measured how long it would take to drive somewhere in New Mexico by how many stops it would require to buy more booze or by how many beers they could consume along the way. Example: "Let's see...Albuquerque to Farmington? That's at least a twelve pack."

Today, more people than ever utilize a 'designated driver' or decide not to drink alcohol if they plan to drive a vehicle. DWI fatalities have steadily been dropping and driving drunk has increasingly become socially unacceptable. In short, New Mexico's acceptance of DWI has dwindled while behaviors that used to lead to DWI have changed. That is good news and something to build on for those who have consistently been working to keep our streets and highways safer for all New Mexicans.

Friday, February 10, 2012

AG Secures Two Legal Settlements to Help New Mexico Families

Attorney General Gary King officially signed New Mexico on to a landmark agreement with the nation's largest mortgage servicers to address New Mexico foreclosure abuses and fraudulent practices. The settlement provides real relief to affected New Mexico borrowers and eliminates many of the unfair practices that contributed to mortgage-related financial losses in our. The agreement does not grant any immunity from related criminal offenses and will not prevent potential New Mexico criminal prosecutions in the future. Additionally, the pact does not prevent homeowners or investors from pursuing individual, institutional, or class action civil cases against the five servicers; Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase, Ally (GMAC), and Wells Fargo.

  • $1 million for the State Financial Institutions Division.New Mexico borrowers will benefit from approximately:
  • $63 million in homeowner relief through loan term modifications, principal reduction, and other direct relief.
  • $12.5 million for refinancing for borrowers who are underwater and current on loans.
  • $16 million for state payments designated to:
a)---Payments to borrowers for mortgage servicing abuse [$4.5 million].
b)---Payments for state foreclosure prevention efforts, homeowner hotline, outreach and housing counseling [$11.7 million].

Mortgage servicer phone numbers for their customers who want to inquire about the settlement:

BofA: 1-877-488-7814

Citi: 1-866-272-4749

Chase: 1-866-372-6901

GMAC: 1-800-766-4622

Wells Fargo: 1-800-288-3212

More information will be made available as the settlement programs are implemented. For more New Mexico information on the proposed agreement:

New Mexico Attorney General’s Office: 1-800-678-1508
Information Form for NM Homeowners:


INFORMATION for Investors in New Mexico 529 College Savings Programs operated by OppenheimerFunds.

Late last week Attorney General King announced that another settlement, negotiated in part by his office, has begun returning money lost by NM account holders.

In 2009 AG King began the investigation into losses related to the New Mexico 529 savings plans, along with the AGs of several other states. A settlement was reached in mid-2010 that provided New Mexico more than $67 million that was to be distributed by the state Education Trust Board. Subsequently, several separate lawsuits were filed by NM 529 plan investors that held up distribution of the settlement monies until now.

The good news is that account holders will be receiving their money as early as next month, depending on when the account holders send in their releases.
Notices to affected investors have begun to go out, accompanied by a release letter. Once those release letters are returned, the families will receive distribution funds via one of three approved methods within 40 days.

VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION: For account holders who still have open accounts, their share will be placed into their accounts after receipt and processing of their release letter, which is being distributed with notice of the settlement. For account holders who have closed their accounts, they may choose one of three methods: (1) by re-opening a closed New Mexico 529 account; (2) by direct rollover to a qualified 529 Plan account that designated by the account holder; or (3) by check mailed directly to the account holder.