Lawyer censured after calling governor 'tyrant' and lawmakers 'spineless tools' in COVID-19 litigation
A New Mexico lawyer has received a public censure partly for “inflammatory and misleading statements” in litigation opposing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, including a claimed right to disqualify judges who had received COVID-19 vaccines. (Image from Shutterstock)
A New Mexico lawyer has received a public censure partly for “inflammatory and misleading statements” in litigation opposing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, including a claimed right to disqualify judges who had received COVID-19 vaccines.
The New Mexico Supreme Court censured lawyer Nancy Ana Garner of New Mexico on Jan. 29 after imposing a deferred one-year suspension, subject to unsupervised probation.
Garner did not contest that that her conduct violated ethics rules.
Garner’s statements stemmed from her representation of the Backstreet Grill, which operated despite revocation of its food permit. She also approved a cease-and-desist letter sent to managers at Sandia National Laboratories that directed them to stop COVID-19 mitigation measures, even though they were represented by counsel.
In the Backstreet Grill litigation, Garner agreed to accept service for the business, according to the censure order. She filed an acceptance-of-service pleading asserting a “right to disqualify any judge who allowed themselves to be injected with an experimental gene therapy.”
Her acceptance of service also made statements that:
• Referred to Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as “a tyrant.”
• Stated that: “Our Supreme Court justices are blind” or practicing medicine in the courts, “which is what their latest COVID-crap to come out of them is.”
• Stated that: “A restaurant refused to make its employees wear a face-diaper (because after all, you are breathing in your own s- - -), nor be the Nazi brownshirt enforcing any of the tyrant’s latest rules.”
• Said the governor “seized power with the glee of an adrenochrome addict,” which may be a reference to a conspiracy theory involving blood harvesting for the supposed youth-enhancing chemical.
• Called lawmakers “spineless tools.”
• Said the opposing counsel was an “unethical opponent.”
• Accused the opposing counsel of misleading the court “to imply, without exactly saying, nothing about the constitutionality of what began its attack on a citizen exercising constitution rights and duty to abolish or correct a government that has gone despotic.”
After a district court ordered Garner to withdraw her inflammatory statements, she apologized for “any offense taken.” She also filed a pleading titled, “Notice of Suggestion of Death of Another New Mexico Business.” The pleading said the Backstreet Grill had been “crushed out of existence by an overreaching government.”
The New Mexico Supreme Court said Garner “placed her personal interest in the subject matter of the litigation above her client’s interests,” which impaired her representation. Her “inflammatory and misleading statements made in court filings harmed her clients, opposing counsel, the public and various members of the judicial and the executive branches.”
Her statements were republished in news outlets, which “undoubtedly harmed the public’s perception of the legal profession” while “casting a negative light on New Mexico lawyers,” the state supreme court said.
Garner was licensed to practice law in 1981. She has no prior disciplinary history and expressed remorse for her conduct.
Garner did not immediately respond to the ABA Journal’s voicemail and email requests for comment.