Lujan being arrested

Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan is escorted away from his office and vehicle May 21 by a Taos County Sheriff's Office deputy after being arrested for resisting and obstructing an officer while serving a search warrant. Lujan's lawyers unsuccessfully argued in two Dec. 13 motions that Lujan should have been read his Miranda rights and that the warrants weren't valid because they were signed by a magistrate judge, instead of a district court judge.

    An attorney for embattled Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan was twice turned away by First Judicial District Judge Bryan Biedscheid when on Dec. 14 Biedscheid denied two motions to suppress evidence filed by Lujan’s lawyer.

    The two motions by Albuquerque attorney Jason Bowles were filed in regard to the case against Lujan for resisting/obstructing an officer in the course of serving a warrant. The warrants were not in regard to a separate case against Lujan.

    The motions turned on the initial search warrants for two of Lujan’s cell phones being signed by a magistrate judge rather than a district judge. Bowles sought to suppress any evidence collected by the Española Police Department using the warrants signed by Los Alamos County magistrate Judge Pat Casados. His argument was that since the warrants weren’t valid, any evidence seized was “fruit of the poisoned tree.”

    Bowles also argued in that motion the warrants were served by Taos County Sheriff’s Deputies, who had no business being there. He cited state statute that only allows for law enforcement officers to perform tasks outside their jurisdiction, “without first having received his appointment in writing from the lawfully constituted authorities for the state of New Mexico.”

    Bowles states the Española Police Department did not have such authority.

    He also argues that a copy of the affidavit for search warrant, a copy of the search warrant and an inventory list of items taken was not given to Lujan.

    Another argument in that motion to suppress was that one of the search warrants was to search Lujan’s home for his personal cell phone. However, Department detectives used the warrant to access Lujan’s personal cell phone while in the parking lot of the Sheriff’s Office.

    Biedscheid stated simply in his ruling, “The Court finds that the search warrants were valid and that they adequately described the crime and property to be searched.”

    Bowles’ second motion sought to suppress the search warrant that allowed Department detectives to obtain Lujan’s password to his private cell phone. Bowles similarly argued the Taos deputies were not dually and properly deputized to serve a search warrant in Rio Arriba County.

    However, the main point of the second motion was that when Lujan would not give detectives his password, he was placed in handcuffs and he was detained. Bowles argues at that point Lujan is arrested and has Miranda rights to an attorney.

    Lujan repeatedly states in lapel video he wants to talk to his attorney. At the point detectives are asking for his password and Lujan answers with asking for an attorney, he is detained.

    Biedscheid’s ruling to that motion is also succinct.

    “The Court finds that while Defendant was in custody, he was not interrogated and while the questions were procedural in nature, Miranda did not apply.”

    In the resisting, evading or obstructing an officer (Service of Process) case, Lujan is set for a July 26, 2021 jury trial.

    Lujan has a second case, bribery of a witness and harboring or aiding a felon in which he is set for a May 26, 2021 jury trial.

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