The appeal stage of the Navajo litigation is going more or less as we projected in 2014.
The community ditches and the San Juan Water Agricultural Users Association appealed Judge Wechsler’s decision to approve the Richardson-Navajo settlement. The appeal is working its way slowly through the New Mexico Court of Appeals, which is the intermediate appellate court.
The community ditches were supposed to file their first brief this week, but it turns out that most of the audio tape recordings for the hearings in 2012 and 2013 were not sent to the Court of Appeals. So we have asked for additional time until the gaps in the record are filled in.
Briefing in the Court of Appeals will probably be finished in the first quarter of 2016. There will be oral argument sometime in mid-2016.
No matter how the Court of Appeals rules, their decision can be appealed to the New Mexico Supreme Court by either side.
It’s impossible to predict the outcome of the appeal, but there are reasons for an optimistic attitude. There are a lot of legal problems with the Richardson-Navajo agreement, and with the way the district court handled the case.
Meanwhile, we are trying to work with the new State Engineer, Tom Blaine. Most of the early reports are favorable. He seems willing to take a fresh look at the way the OSE is operated.
Financial report: Litigation expenses are on the track we projected in 2014. We sent out one assessment for 2015, and there will be one more in 2016. It looks like those assessments should cover the cost of the appeal, if the ditches get caught up on their arrears, and if nothing else happens in the litigation.
There are a few ditches that have unpaid assessments going back as far as April, 2012. Those need to get caught up on their payments, because it’s not fair to the other ditches – or to this firm. Most of the ditches have been good about paying.
And don’t forget to pay your dues to the San Juan Agricultural Water Users Association. The Association has done a great job for you over the years.
Best wishes to you all,
Victor Marshall & Shirley Meridith