HOUSE BILL 351
54th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - second session, 2020
RELATING TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL; AMENDING AND ENACTING SECTIONS OF CHAPTER 8, ARTICLE 5 NMSA 1978; LIMITING THE AUTHORITY OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TO ENGAGE NON-EMPLOYEE COUNSEL.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. Section 8-5-4 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1933, Chapter 21, Section 4) is amended to read:
"8-5-4. EMPLOYMENT OF LEGAL ASSISTANCE FOR STATE AGENCIES.--No compensation shall be allowed to any person for services as an attorney [or counsellor] to any department of [the] state government, or the head thereof, or to any state board or commission, except in cases specially authorized by law [but special legal assistance may be employed by the attorney general under his direction and control at a reasonable compensation in any pending action or proceeding to protect the interest of the state, with the consent and approval of the governor upon showing made by the attorney general that his department cannot for reasons stated perform such services. The costs of such special legal assistance shall be paid by the department out of which such suit or proceeding originated]."
SECTION 2. A new section of Chapter 8, Article 5 NMSA 1978 is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] LIMITATION ON NON-EMPLOYEE COUNSEL.--
A. Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, all legal services of the attorney general shall be performed exclusively by:
(1) an employee of the office of the attorney general;
(2) an employee of another New Mexico governmental entity as may be provided by law; or
(3) an employee of a federal governmental entity pursuant to an agreement between the attorney general and that federal governmental entity.
B. Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, the sole source of compensation paid to employees of the office of the attorney general for performing legal services on behalf of the state shall be from legislative appropriations.
C. In any case in which the attorney general is authorized under law to contract with, hire or engage a person other than a person described in Paragraphs (1) through (3) of Subsection A of this section to perform legal services on behalf of the state, the sole consideration for those legal services shall be a set monetary amount bargained for in an arm's length transaction between that person and the attorney general, stating under what authority the attorney general enters into the contract.
D. Only persons described in Paragraphs (1) through (3) of Subsection A of this section shall perform legal services on premises occupied or leased by the attorney general.
E. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the attorney general from:
(1) entering into a settlement agreement with a defendant arising from a case litigated or prosecuted by a federal governmental entity, local governmental entity or an attorney general in another state or United States territory; or
(2) employing and providing office space to an unpaid intern assisting in performing legal services; provided that the intern does not possess a current license to practice law in this or any other state or any United States territory."
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