United States District Court, D. New Mexico
C. BRACK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the Joint Motion for
Clarification (Doc. 309) filed on October 23, 2017, and the
parties' briefs in support (Doc. 330, 332) filed on
November 27, 2017. The Parties seek clarification of
Paragraph 315 of the Court-Approved Settlement Agreement
(CASA), a document the Parties drafted in good faith for the
Court's approval. (See, e.g., Doc. 134
at 2 (noting that the Parties had “filed a Settlement
Agreement and a joint motion to approve it[, ]” which
“represent[ed] over five months' negotiation
between the” City and the DOJ).)
Court has inherent authority to interpret a consent decree
“when its language results in confusion.”
EEOC v. Safeway Stores, Inc., 611 F.2d 795, 798
(10th Cir. 1979) (citations omitted). Here, because there is
tension between paragraph 315 of the CASA and the City's
responsibilities under New Mexico's Inspection of Public
Records Act (IPRA), N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-2-1-12 (2011),
the Court offers the following clarification of paragraph 315
to prevent confusion.
adopting the CASA, the Court found that the CASA must be
“fair, adequate, reasonable, and in keeping with public
policy.” (Id. at 4 (citing United States
v. Colorado, 937 F.2d 505, 509 (10th Cir. 1991)
(internal citation omitted)).) One such public policy of the
State of New Mexico, “to provide ‘all
persons' with ‘the greatest possible information
regarding the affairs of government[, ]'” is
embodied in IPRA. San Juan Agr. Water Users Ass'n v.
KNME-TV, 2011-NMSC-011, ¶ 31, 150 N.M. 64, 257 P.3d
884, 891 (N.M. 2011); see also State ex rel. Toomey v.
City of Truth or Consequences, 287 P.3d 364, 371 (N.M.
Ct. App. 2012). “Under IPRA, ‘[e]very person has
a right to inspect' the public records of New
Mexico.” San Juan Agr. Water Users Ass'n,
257 P.3d at 887 (quoting N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-2-1(A)).
the CASA must comport with applicable law and public policy,
where CASA-related documents fall within IPRA's
definition of public records, those documents are subject to
disclosure under IPRA. According to IPRA,
“‘public records' means all documents,
papers, letters, books, maps, tapes, photographs, recordings
and other materials, regardless of physical form or
characteristics, that are used, created, received, maintained
or held by or on behalf of any public body and relate to
public business, whether or not the records are required by
law to be created or maintained.” N.M. Stat. Ann.
§ 14-2-6(G). A “‘public body' means the
executive, legislative and judicial branches of state and
local governments and all advisory boards, commissions,
committees, agencies or entities created by the constitution
or any branch of government that receives any public funding,
including political subdivisions, special taxing districts,
school districts and institutions of higher education . . .
.” N.M. Stat. Ann. § 14-2-6(F).
clear that the Monitor, the monitoring team, and the DOJ fall
outside of the definition of a public body or agent of the
state of New Mexico or the City of Albuquerque. The Monitor is an
agent of the Court. Pursuant to the CASA, the Monitor is
“subject to the supervision and orders of the Court,
consistent with this Agreement and applicable law.”
(Id. ¶ 295.) The Monitor was selected by the
DOJ and the City, subject to the Court's approval.
(Id. ¶ 327.) This Court's “Memorandum
Opinion and Order adopting the original Joint Motion to
Approve Settlement and Enter the Settlement Agreement as an
Order” referred to the Monitor as “the eyes and
ears of the Court.” (Doc. 134 at 3.) The Monitor is not
performing a public function delegated to the Monitor by the
City, but was brought to bear by forces outside of the City.
See, e.g., Toomey, 287 P.3d at
same may not be said, of course, of the City, which must
respond to viable IPRA requests as it normally
would. This Court takes seriously its original
promise to “ensure that the Monitor does not collude
with [the] parties to suppress public information.”
(Doc. 134 at 6.) The Court understands the Parties'
desire to protect communications in order “to engage in
a free exchange of proposals, positions, and
information” with “candor and thoroughness”
so that “barriers to compliance are identified early
and resolved quickly.” (Doc. 330 at 4.) As the parties
do not, however, offer any legal justification that would
operate to take documents that are otherwise disclosable out
of IPRA's reach, the Court cannot find a legal reason to
protect the documents.
clear: the provisions of the CAS A may not be contrary to
applicable law, thus Paragraph 315 may not be used to deny
valid IPRA requests where the documents meet the definition
of public records.
IS SO ORDERED.
 Paragraph 315 of the CASA provides
that “[t]he Monitor is not a state or local agency or
agent thereof, and accordingly, the records maintained by the
Monitor or communications between the Monitor and the Parties
shall not be deemed public records subject to public
inspection.” (Doc. 247-1 (CASA) ¶ 315.)
 Recognizing that the Monitor and DOJ
may not waive confidentiality on the City's behalf, the
Court in its Order adopting the CASA assured the Albuquerque
Police Officers Association that the Monitor and DOJ will
“maintain all non-public information provided by the
City in a confidential manner.” (Doc. 134 at 20-21
(quoting CASA ¶ 326).)
 The Court's November 16, 2016
request that the City produce certain documents in
camera should not be construed as altering the
City's legal obligation to produce public records under