Laura Seeds will not be allowed to attend her pretrial interviews as she defends herself against allegations she committed voter fraud.
Seeds allegedly possessed 10 “executed or unexecuted” absentee ballots outside the confines of the Española City Clerk’s Office in February 2016 while working for her husband City Councilor Robert Seeds' reelection campaign, a previous Rio Grande SUN article states.
Laura Seeds was indicted in February 2016 on 13 charges of voter fraud, including two counts of making false statements relative to the municipal election code, conspiracy to violate the municipal election code and 10 counts of unlawful possession of an absentee ballot in a municipal election.
Robert Seeds won his seat in 2016 by two votes, defeating incumbent Cory Lewis.
Laura Seeds wrote, in a half-page ad placed in the Feb. 22, 2018 issue of the SUN, that she only worked “within the rules encouraging voter registration and get out the vote efforts” in support of her husband’s candidacy.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas filed a motion in April to keep Laura Seeds away from the interviews to “prevent the intimidation or oppression of witnesses.”
Balderas wrote that Seeds called jury services for the Court in an attempt to learn the names of the people on the grand jury that had indicted her, and that several witnesses in the case indicated they would prefer not to have to give statements in front of Seeds.
Office Spokesman Matt Baca said Monday the call from Seeds to jury services was made public by First Judicial District Court Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer during a pretrial hearing. He said she was notified by jury services that the call had been placed.
“(Seeds) has demanded to be present in person for all pretrial interviews,” Balderas wrote. “Ordering (Seeds) not be present during pretrial interviews is necessary to prevent any intimidation or oppression of the witnesses answers.”
Baca said there were two people scheduled to be interviewed that specifically requested Seeds not be there.
Seeds, through her attorney Aaron Wolf of Cuddy & McCarthy, LLP, asked the court to deny the state’s motion, and instead requested the court allow her to attend the interviews, with the understanding that she would not be allowed to have any communication with any of the state’s witnesses.
“I strongly believe that anyone accused of a crime should be able to assist their counsel in their own defense,” Cuddy & McCarthy Associate Attorney Marlow Hooper said Monday. “Thus, we filed a motion in order for our client to be able to assist us during the pretrial interview process.”
Sommer granted the state’s motion in June. Seeds will not be allowed to attend pretrial interviews for state witnesses.
Jury selection in the case is set for October, with the trial beginning the day before Halloween and running into November.
Hooper said the firm is prepared to move forward to the trial.
“We believe the charges against our client are baseless and that Mrs. Seeds will be exonerated at trial,” Hooper said.
Assistant Attorney General Derek Skinner told the court in August 2018 that Seeds and campaign assistant Dyon Herera were submitting absentee ballot applications that either weren't theirs, or forged signatures, or possessed applications which they had no legitimate reason to possess.
The state also alleges Seeds, twice, made “false statements” on an application for an absentee ballot, on Jan. 29 and Feb. 18, 2016.
“With all of these counts taken together, it really is an overt attempt to thwart the validity of that 2016 City Council election, in that they’re submitting applications and absentee voter ballots that have no purpose being a part of the election itself,” Skinner said.
If convicted on all counts Seeds could face up to 23 years in prison and fines of $75,500, Baca said Monday.