An update on the Santa Fe Reporter‘s open records lawsuit against New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez:
District Court Judge Sarah Singleton will decide after a three-day bench trial sheduled to begin Nov. 21 whether Martinez broke the law when she allegedly denied the existence of documents the Reporter already had, delayed the release of other records and shattered the limits of the state sunshine law to get around producing still more public documents.
The newspaper’s public records claims are not unusual, although they allege a pattern of withholding documents. The Reporter also brought a second claim, the first of its kind: that the governor violated the newspaper’s free press rights under the state constitution by consistently not responding to routine questions on garden-variety topics from its journalists—questions submitted contemporaneously by reporters at other news organizations on the same topics.
If the newspaper prevails at trial, the lawsuit could strengthen press freedoms and access to state officials.