From the District Court of Lea County William G. W.
Shoobridge, District Judge.
H. Balderas, Attorney General Santa Fe, NM John J. Woykovsky,
Assistant Attorney General Albuquerque, NM for Appellant.
Bennett J. Baur, Chief Public Defender Santa Fe, NM MJ Edge,
Assistant Appellate Defender Albuquerque, NM for Appellee.
Kristina Bogardus, Judge.
The State appeals from the district court's order that
(1) set aside the jury verdict finding Defendant guilty of
driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor
(DWI); (2) granted its own motion for a new trial; and (3)
dismissed the case after concluding that retrial was not
supported by the evidence. We reverse and remand.
Defendant Terrell Willyard was charged with DWI, contrary to
NMSA 1978, Section 66-8-102(A) (2016), following a
single-vehicle collision in which Defendant's vehicle
collided with a telephone pole. A witness heard
Defendant's truck approaching, saw the collision, and
then saw Defendant drive his truck from the scene and park it
in the shadows behind a business. The witness called 911 and
described the collision and Defendant. The witness lost sight
of Defendant when Defendant walked away from the scene.
A responding officer spotted Defendant a few blocks away.
That officer and two assisting officers believed that
Defendant displayed signs of intoxication. When he refused to
submit to field sobriety tests and chemical testing,
Defendant was placed under arrest and brought back to the
scene for identification. Based on the witness's
testimony, no more than twenty-one minutes passed from the
time he lost sight of Defendant until the officers brought
Defendant back to the scene.
Defendant moved for a directed verdict at trial, both at the
close of the State's evidence and after the defense
rested, arguing the State presented no evidence that
Defendant was intoxicated at the time he was driving. The
district court denied both motions, and the jury found
Defendant guilty of DWI.
Following trial, and for the reasons cited in our discussion
that follows, the district court, sua sponte, ruled that
there was no evidence that Defendant's driving and
impairment overlapped and granted Defendant a new trial. The
district court then dismissed the case, concluding that
Defendant could not be retried because there was insufficient
evidence to sustain the jury's verdict. The State
The State Has a Right to Appeal the District Court's
We first address the question of whether the State has the
right to appeal in this case. "The right to appeal is .
. . a matter of substantive law created by constitutional or
statutory provision." State v. Armijo,
2016-NMSC-021, ¶ 19, 375 P.3d 415. "We review
issues of statutory and constitutional interpretation de
novo." Id. (internal quotation marks and
The State Is an Aggrieved Party Under the New Mexico
The State argues that it has a "strong interest in
enforcing a lawful jury verdict" and, therefore, as an
aggrieved party, has a constitutional right to an appeal.
State v. Chavez, 1982-NMSC-108, ¶ 6, 98 N.M.
682, 652 P.2d 232 (holding "that when the jury reaches a
verdict after a trial which is fair and free from error, and
such a verdict is set aside, the [s]tate is aggrieved within
the meaning of the New Mexico Constitution"); see
State v. Heinsen, 2005-NMSC-035, ¶ 9, 138 N.M. 441,
121 P.3d 1040 ("Article VI, Section 2 of the New Mexico
Constitution provides 'that an aggrieved party shall have
an absolute right to one appeal.' This provision gives
the [s]tate an absolute, constitutional right to appeal a
ruling that is contrary to law."). Although Defendant
notes that under Chavez, the State's right to
appeal from a verdict that has been set aside exists only
when the verdict is reached after a trial that is "fair
and free from error," 1982-NMSC-108, ¶ 6, he fails
to identify any trial errors that affected the jury's
verdict or rendered the trial unfair. We are not obligated to
review Defendant's undeveloped argument, State v.
Guerra, 2012-NMSC-014, ¶ 21, 278 P.3d 1031, nor are
we obligated to "search the record for facts, arguments,
and rulings" to ...