ACLU-NM is fighting hard to get vulnerable people released from prisons and jails during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, we are not able to individually assist or take legal action on behalf of every incarcerated person who may need it. However, our friends at the Law Offices of the Public Defender created a template motion that incarcerated individuals can file in court pro se to ask for their sentences to be reduced in light of this pandemic. You can send your loved one this petition to fill out, which includes instructions. Use of this petition does not mean that the ACLU are your lawyers or will be able to assist you.
Before submitting your complaint for review by the ACLU legal team, please carefully read ALL of the following information
1. Types of cases the ACLU generally DOES NOT accept:
- Employment-related cases, unless there is a significant First Amendment issue or discrimination-related matter;
- Cases about being denied public benefits such as worker’s compensation or unemployment benefits;
- Criminal cases or complaints about a public defender or judge;
- Family law cases (related to divorce, child custody, child support, etc);
- Landlord-Tenant cases;
- Cases that involve tribal governments;
- Consumer Debt cases
2. Types of Cases we DO ACCEPT IF we have the resources:
The ACLU prioritizes cases related to civil rights issues, including those listed below, that have the potential to impact the civil liberties of large numbers of people. Please know that, due to the high volume of complaints, we only accept a small percentage of the complaints that we receive.
- Freedom of Speech and Press – For example: a student is suspended for writing a newspaper article critical of the principal; a police officer is disciplined for speaking out against police brutality; a group is charged for police protection when it applies for a demonstration permit;
- Freedom of Religion – This involves both the right of individuals to practice their own religion and the separation of church and state. Schools and other public agencies cannot in any way promote or sponsor religious ideas;
- Right to Privacy – For example: searches and seizures of personal property without reasonable grounds to suspect the person of a crime;
- Equal Protection/Discrimination – For example: a sheriff’s department which focuses on arresting African-American individuals; a pharmacy refusing to fill a reproductive health prescription based on an individual pharmacist’s personal religious beliefs; a store refusing service to someone based on their sexual orientation.
- Due Process of Law – For example, a community group is denied a permit by the police and the town provides no way to appeal the police decision.
**Please note that receipt of your complaint does not imply any agreement to undertake representation on your behalf. If your matter is urgent, please seek private counsel.
3. How does the ACLU of New Mexico respond to complaints?
We will respond to your complaint in writing. At times our case-load is such that we regrettably are unable to respond to complaints for four to six weeks. We are unable to respond to telephone calls regarding the status of complaints. If your case is urgent, please consult with a private attorney.
4. When or how can the ACLU advise on a case?
The ACLU is unable to give advice about your case or provide other types of assistance, (for example, reviewing your papers or conducting legal research to assist you), if we do not accept your case. This policy allows us to direct the necessary resources to those few cases that we do accept.
5. An important note about deadlines
All legal claims have time deadlines. The deadlines may be different depending on who violated your rights and depending on what rights were violated. For some kinds of violations, you may need to file a claim with a government agency before you can sue, and these agencies usually have their own time deadlines.
Please understand that unless and until the ACLU agrees to take your case, you are solely responsible for any and all statutes of limitations or other deadlines that might apply to your specific situation.
If you have concerns about a statute of limitations or if you feel your case demands immediate attention, you may wish to seek advice from another attorney. For your convenience, we’ve listed some legal resources that you may find helpful here:
Legal Resources in New Mexico
- State Bar of New Mexico’s General Referral Program (“SBGR”): (505) 797-6066 OR 1-800-876-6227
- Law Access New Mexico: (505) 998-4529 or 1-800-340-9771
- Legal Resources for the Elderly Program (“LREP”): (505) 797-6000 or 1-800-876-6657
- New Mexico Legal Aid: 1-833-545-4357
- UNM School of Law–Clinical Law Program (Abq.): (505) 277-5265
- Office of Equity & Inclusion: (505) 768-4712
- New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, Human Rights Bureau (Santa Fe): (505) 827-6838 or 1-800-566-9471
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)(Abq.): 1-800-669-4000
- Disabilities Rights New Mexico (“DRNM”)(Abq.): (505) 256-3100 or 1-800-432-4682
- New Mexico Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection: 1-800-678-1508
If you have read through all of the above and still feel that your case might meet our criteria, you are now welcome to submit your complaint. We will respond in writing within 4-6 weeks to let you know whether or not we are able to further investigate or take your case. Even if we are unable to take your case, we might be able to suggest other ways for you to get involved in our advocacy work.