Coppler’s Defense of City’s Solid Waste Collection Center

By Kathleen Sloan

HERALD Reporter

The Coppler Law Firm, (see related article elsewhere in this edition) is defending the City of Truth or Consequences against a declaratory judgment filed by 65 people on Oct. 15. The plaintiffs filed in Seventh Judicial District Court. Judge Edmund Kase III got the case.

Besides a declaratory judgment, plaintiffs also filed a request for a “preliminary injunction” to stop further construction of the solid waste collection center. Injunctions are usually heard quickly, and Judge Kase scheduled a hearing Friday, Nov. 2. It did not come to pass.

On Oct. 24, not only did Gerald Coppler and John Appel of Coppler Law Firm file notice of appearance, they also filed a “Notice of Removal” to federal court, which is located in Albuquerque. The notice says it can be tried in federal court because it has “original subject matter jurisdiction,” and there is “the existence of a federal question.”

Coppler also states the plaintiff’s claim their due process rights have been violated, which may be a United States or New Mexico State Constitution matter, or both, giving federal court jurisdiction.

The Coppler Law Firm then filed a “motion for summary judgment” on Oct. 29 in federal court.

The federal question Coppler refers to is fleshed out in this motion. It concerns the land on which the solid waste collection center and recycling center are located. It was given to the city around 1959 by the federal government. The land patent states it “is issued upon the express condition that if said Town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, shall at any time cease to use the grant herein made for a permanent recreational site and municipal golf course, or shall alienate or attempt to alienate the same, then and in that event title thereto shall revert to the United States.”

Coppler’s brief claims plaintiffs are asking the court to return the land to the federal government.

The 65 plaintiffs’ brief claims there is no question that the patent’s conditions are still running. In their declaratory judgment, they ask the judge to find the city in violation of the patent’s conditions, not return the land. They cite Economic Development Department General Counsel Wade Jackson’s recent final decision on the matter. The city did not appeal Jackson’s decision to district court, so it becomes a matter of law, they state.

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