NM Supreme Court pauses consumer debt collection due to pandemic, downturn


Updated June 9 at 5 p.m.

The New Mexico Supreme Court put a temporary halt to certain consumer debt collection orders on Monday (June 8) to help ease the financial pain many state residents are feeling due to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic downturn.

The decision will apply to "the issuance of writs of garnishment and writs of execution in district, magistrate and metropolitian court cases effective June 8," reads a press release from Barry Massey, public information officer for the New Mexico Adminstrative Office of the Courts.

The order is designed to temporarily shield New Mexicans from having their wages withheld or their assets taken and sold to repay creditors, but does not apply to people who have unpaid child support payments.

The order will remain in place for the foreseeable future, with no specified end date, Massey noted.

He said the Supreme Court acted "in response to the extraordinary circumstances presented by the current public health emergency," noting the state's high unemployment rate amid the pandemic, which reached 11.3 percent last week, according to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.

The order also notes that restrictions placed on the courts due to public health risks has also made appearing in court to resolve a consumer debt case more difficult.

Judith Nakamura, the chief justice on the state Supreme Court, dissented from the order, Massey's press release noted, while the four other justices concurred with it. Nakamura announced on Tuesday (June 9) that she will retire on Aug. 1.


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