Supreme Court rules not to hear Graves’ appeal

By Andy Jackson: CNJ staff writer

It is official. Gary Graves is no longer sheriff of De Baca County.

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled Thursday it will not hear Graves’ appeal to overturn a November recall election, according to court documents.

De Baca County citizens voted to recall Graves on Nov. 10 after a citizens group petitioned to remove him from office.

Graves was accused of acts of malfeasance while in office, specifically misappropriating funds, mistreating prisoners and sexual harassment.

Graves denied the allegations.

Ellis Jones, one of six De Baca resident plaintiffs listed in the sheriff’s suit, said the Supreme Court decision not to hear the case is, “What the people of Fort Sumner wanted.”

Graves was seeking a reversal of 9th Judicial District Judge Joe Parker’s ruling that there was probable cause to seek a recall of Graves.

The State Court of Appeals ruled Nov. 9 and Nov. 10 the recall election should be stayed until a review of Parker’s August ruling, however, De Baca County officials were instructed to proceed with the recall despite the court order.

After the recall election, Graves’ appeal was transferred to the Supreme Court from the State Court of Appeals on Nov. 23, according to Court of Appeals Clerk Patricia Wallace.

De Baca County Commissioner Joe Steele is on a joint task force that will search for an interim sheriff for De Baca County.

Steele said applications for sheriff are due by the beginning of next week at the De Baca County Clerk’s Office.

“I thought we shouldn’t appoint someone until we found out about the decision made by the Supreme Court,” Steele said.

The next primary election for the position of sheriff will be in June and the general election is slotted for November, Steele said.

Graves has already taken a new job as a police officer in Cuba, according to a dispatcher with the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office.

Graves and his lawyer, Bill Robins, could not be reached for comment.