AG, Valley Meat hearing today

January 2, 2014 • Local News

[auth] Attorneys will meet in the First Judicial District Court at 2:30 p.m. today in Santa Fe to decide if Attorney General Gary King can keep Valley Meat Co. of Roswell from opening its doors.

The last-ditch effort by King, a strong anti-horse slaughter proponent, filed the lawsuit after a federal appeals court in Colorado vacated a temporary ban on U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections at slaughterhouse facilities.

King had joined with animal activists in the unsuccessful federal suit.

District Judge Matthew Wilson in Santa Fe issued a temporary restraining order in the latest lawsuit Monday, halting Valley Meat’s plans to open Jan. 1. King was not required to post a bond as a result, having filed under the New Mexico Unfair Practices Act.

Attorney Blair Dunn, representing Valley Meat, filed a 173-page motion after Wilson’s restraining order was issued.

The court and King do not have jurisdiction to rule in the matter, Dunn argued in the motion.

“This instant case and this instant motion in a line of other failed motions represents nothing more than political grandstanding by an attorney general running for the office of Governor of New Mexico in order to raise campaign contributions on an issue over which he has no jurisdiction,” Dunn argued in the filing.

“More importantly, this case represents an abuse of the judicial system by the New Mexico Attorney General improperly persuading this court to enjoin a lawful business from their enterprise when neither he nor the court have subject matter jurisdiction to act.”

In a press release entitled, “Stopping Horse Slaughter in NM,” King applauded the efforts of his office for continued working to stop Valley Meats (sic) from beginning commercial horse slaughter operations in Roswell.

“With the newly scheduled hearing, the court can now more fully consider the dangers posed by commercial horse slaughter and Valley Meat’s long history of non-compliance with existing laws,” according to King’s statement.

King’s statement does not indicate what laws the company might have not complied with, as Valley Meat has yet to open its doors.

The company, owned by Rick De Los Santos, has struggled with legal battles and permit hold-ups with the federal government and now with the state for the past two years.

Dunn argued to the court in his filing that the claim by King’s office of an “impending environmental doom” would have already been addressed by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico.

AG Spokesman Phil Sisneros said Thursday King has assigned attorneys Ari Biernoff as lead counsel and Dave Pederson as support and oversight counsel for today’s hearing.

“AG King believes it is a priority of the office to protect drinking water supplies, public health and air quality, and that these actions fit squarely within the Attorney General’s Office statutory obligations, whatever the cost,” Sisneros said, when asked about how much the AG’s office has spent on the fight against horse slaughter.

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