Sheriff recall petition stopped in district court
July 26, 2017
PORTALES — A petition seeking the recall of Roosevelt County Sheriff Malin Parker was stopped by a district court judge Tuesday.
The petition, submitted by Portales attorney Eric Dixon on behalf of criminal defendants Cody Banister and Armando Pena, as well as the mother of a woman killed in a car chase involving police, was denied in a hearing in the Roosevelt County Courthouse.
The hearing gave Dixon a chance to prove that Parker intentionally made false statements regarding the reliability of an informant who led to the arrests of Pena and Banister.
Roosevelt County Attorney Randy Knudson, representing Parker, filed a motion to dismiss the petition, which was granted by Judge Fred Van Soelen.
“The petition process, case law states, is not to be used as a means of harassment for purely political or personal reasons,” Van Soelen said.
“I’m not making a pronouncement, but this comes close to being, as far as I can tell, either a harassment measure or a personal vendetta.”
Van Soelen noted that the petitioners all have pending criminal charges as a result of Parker or are related to people who do.
After hearing testimony from witnesses — including Law Office of the Public Defender Senior Investigator Misti Valdez and Parker — about statements made by Parker in arrest affidavits, Dixon asked the court to find that Parker displayed wrongful conduct.
“We have misfeasance and wrongful conduct by the respondent not even attempting to verify the truthfulness of the statements he was making under oath and that, in itself, is wrongful,” Dixon said.
Knudson argued that when Parker testified before a grand jury that an informant had led to arrests and recovery of stolen property, he was unaware that his statements were untrue, and therefore he did not act wrongfully.
“Simple negligence, under no reported case, is sufficient grounds for a claim of malfeasance or misfeasance, so for all of those reasons, we would ask you once again to dismiss this,” he said.