Arrests of Taos Pueblo members expunged by court
The New Mexico Supreme Court on Tuesday expunged the arrests of 32 people -- most from Taos Pueblo -- who were jailed after a judge said they became too unruly during a sentencing hearing.

The court said Judge Sam Sanchez should not have laid contempt charges on the group at the November 19, 2009, hearing. Sanchez apologized for his actions, which are being investigated by the state Judicial Standards Commission.

"I apologize," Sanchez told the Supreme Court at a hearing, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported. "If I made a mistake, I made a mistake — I'd never seen anything like this."

The 32 people -- including several elderly Indians -- spent the night in jail after the hearing. Some were sent as far away as Santa Fe, over 70 miles from Taos Pueblo.

The incident was sparked by the sentencing hearing of Dominic Bau, a tribal member who pleaded guilty to raping a 13-year-old relative. The crime occurred off the reservation.

Supporters of Bau and family members of the victim clashed in court, prompting Sánchez to lay contempt charges that he later dropped.

Get the Story:
High court exupunges Taos contempt arrests (The Santa Fe New Mexican 1/7)
Supreme Court to issue opinion on judge's contempt conduct; vacates records (The Taos News 1/5)

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Contempt charges dropped against Pueblo group (11/24)