“members are not matters of public record and are entitled to confidentiality…”
State attorneys for the New Mexico Livestock Board have asked District Judge Dan Bryant to order the Wild Horse Observers Association to name all of its members in Lincoln County.
The Board’s lawyers say they need the list of names to support the argument they intend to make in the Alto wild horse case that WHOA may not have had the legal right to sue the Board in the 12th Judicial District over its seizure last year of a small herd of free-roaming horses.
“Plaintiff’s membership, particularly in Lincoln County, likely has a bearing on Plaintiff’s standing to sue, and therefore information (and/or records) about Plaintiff’s membership is an appropriate area of inquiry in discovery,” the Board’s attorney, Asst. Atty. Gen. Ari Biernoff, said in a “motion to compel” filed in the case last week.
The motion was aimed at forcing WHOA to comply with a number of document requests the Board made as part of its discovery demands in the wild horse case.
WHOA had earlier responded to the Board’s member list demand that its “members are not matters of public record and are entitled to confidentiality. Further the information is not relevant and is not likely to lead to relevant information concerning this lawsuit.”
But Biernoff pointed out in his motion that discovery demands don’t have to be limited to information that is “public record” and can extend to “anything of relevance to the claims and defenses in this action.”
The Board had also asked for all documents WHOA has about the wild horse herd or any other “wild, feral or estray horses” around Alto or Ruidoso. WHOA responded that the demand was “very broad and it is impossible to know what is requested.”
Biernoff said in last week’s motion that there was “nothing overly broad or confusing” about its demand, and Bryant should overrule WHOA’s objection.
WHOA also said it should not be required to furnish records relating to its officers or directors because they aren’t parties individually to the lawsuit. The Board’s motion insisted that discovery documents aren’t limited to those of named parties to the suit, and WHOA’s officers or directors may have acted on WHOA’s behalf on matters related to the case.
The Board also asked Bryant to reject WHOA’s argument that it shouldn’t be required to provide copies of WHOA’s communications about the case on social media just because they’re public and the Board can review those for itself.
“Undersigned counsel does not have a Facebook account, and so at least some portions of WHOA’s Facebook page are in fact unavailable absent discovery,” Biernoff wrote.
In addition to requiring WHOA to promptly turn over the documents he asked for, Biernoff asked Bryant to order the organization to pay the Board’s attorney’s fees for preparing and filing the motion to compel.