(Editor's note: this is a corrected version of the editorial that appeared in print, which had Ray Smith's name wrong. It also stated the sheriff was not certified. His certification is held by the Rio Arriba County Commission, not the Law Enforcement Academy, as other law enforcement officers' are.)
Talk about sour grapes.
Coincidentally, four days after Rio Grande SUN reporter Tabitha Clay wrote about many New Mexico law enforcement officers lacking training and/or are no longer certified, Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan ordered the faux deputes at the District Courthouse in Tierra Amarilla to not allow Clay access to the court, with recording devices.
Ray and Betty Smith run the metal detector there. Not only was Clay not allowed to bring her phone, laptop and camera into the courtroom, the Smiths would not allow Clay to enter the courthouse. Yes, there were people in the courtroom with similar devices.
Clay spoke to the bailiff, who actually controls the courtroom. Phone calls were made, hands were slapped, the Smiths changed their minds on recording devices being brought into the courthouse.
They finally admitted they were just following orders, albeit bad ones. We’re all for chain of command and taking orders, but when an unlawful order is issued, deputies, even the has-beens or never-weres at the courthouse, have a legal obligation to not comply.
Surely Judge Jason Lidyard controls his own courtroom and doesn’t need the help of an untrained sheriff. State law is clear on recording/photography in a courtroom: it’s entirely up to the judge and if the judge chooses to not allow such recording, he/she must have a good reason. Perhaps this is covered in the training in which our sheriff is deficient.
Lujan went so far as to order the two guardians of their galaxy to report to him regarding all of Clay’s movements and actions. He’s been spending too much time with FBI field agents, full of themselves. However, judging from his lack of information in regard to the Renezmae Calzada death, he either took great notes during FBI pre-briefings and divulged nothing or really was out of the loop and had no information to offer the public.
We understand the sheriff is upset he got the whistle blown on him regarding his and his department’s lack of training. He claims he’s all trained up. Besides, he’s the sheriff, his word is the final word.
We don’t manufacture the news, we just report it. Perhaps Lujan is looking for “alternate facts.”
Lujan could have been a hero. He could have combed the files of every deputy, sought the training deficiencies, set up a schedule and gotten everyone up to date. He then could have gone to the state Law Enforcement Academy and showed them how he did it. Rio Arriba County would be the first county in the state to come into compliance with all training.
He should have taken a lesson from former President Bill Clinton. Admit you did it, apologize, make it right. The denial thing works short term, drags out your sins and documentation to the contrary of your argument always sinks you. Case in point, Lujan’s few pages of current training certificates.