SANTA FE, NM (KTSM) — The Judicial branch of government, the Department of Health (DOH) and attorneys across New Mexico are working together to prepare for the possibility of future court order requests to isolate or quarantine people who may pose a public health threat during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The state Supreme Court organized online training for judges and attorneys this week on provisions of state law allowing the department to petition a district court for orders to isolate or quarantine people during a public health emergency.
“By having a trained group of judges and lawyers on call to handle public health cases, New Mexico’s court system can respond quickly if state authorities seek a quarantine or isolation order to help control the spread of coronavirus,” Justice David Thomson said.
The Administrative Office of the Courts says DOH has worked with New Mexico courts to plan for isolation and quarantine cases including helping with training and developing forms for orders and pleadings.
“This has been a great process, and we appreciate the time and attention that the judges have given to this issue,” said Chris Woodward, assistant general counsel at DOH. “The New Mexico courts play an essential role in protecting the health and safety of the public during this public health emergency, and we at the Department of Health are thankful for the dedication that the courts have shown to this cause.”
A training session will be held Friday, April 10 for nearly 90 attorneys who volunteered to represent individuals who may become the subject of a public health isolation or quarantine order.
According to the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Supreme Court also designated and trained two judges in each judicial district to hear public health emergency cases.
“This is a good example of partners in our justice system coming together in this public health emergency and preparing for rarely used legal actions that state health officials could take to protect New Mexicans from exposure to people infected with COVID-19,” said Justice C. Shannon Bacon.