Mag, marshal deny violating rights

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The village of Magdalena and its marshal deny violating the Fourth Amendment rights of village residents during a search the marshal conducted July 11, according to the defendants' answer to the lawsuit complaint filed in U.S. District Court.

The defendants' answer, filed Oct. 29 by their attorney James P. Lyle, of Albuquerque, asks the court to dismiss the action against the defendants with prejudice and award costs incurred in defending the action, as well as any other relief the court deems proper. It also states the defendants demand a trial by jury.

Plaintiffs on the lawsuit, filed Sept. 9, include Ashley Mahdy and Lottie Tramonte Mahdy, who own the Western Motel and an adjacent mobile home residence; the 19-year-old tenant of the mobile home; and the tenant's 17-year-old girlfriend, who brings the action through her mother until she turns 18 next spring.

The suit claims Magdalena Marshal Larry Cearley and several armed, masked men in black searched the Western Motel & RV Park and the mobile home on the morning of July 11, handcuffing people to furniture and forcing the teens out of a shower, as well as refusing to show anyone a search warrant. It also alleges the marshal told everyone, including potential hotel customers, the Mahdys were being arrested as felons in possession of firearms in connection to a drug raid.

The complaint alleges five violations of the law by the defendants: the tenant and his girlfriend's Fourth Amendment claim of illegal entry; all four plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment claim of illegal search and seizure and false arrest; tenant and girlfriend's Fourth Amendment claim of excessive force; all four plaintiffs' state law torts claim of negligent hiring, training, supervision and retention of the marshal; and business torts as part and parcel of slander, libel and defamation.

The defendants deny all wrongdoing in their answer. The document states the defendants acted "in good faith and in a reasonable manner" given the information they had and the circumstances existing. It says the plaintiffs' claims are barred by the doctrine of qualified immunity, the doctrine of good faith and the doctrine of unclean hands.

The affidavit for the search warrant, filed July 8 in 7th Judicial District Court, states Cearley had been investigating a shooting at Magdalena High School since Nov. 29, 2012. He contacted Ashley Mahdy, who denied having the weapon or giving it to the suspect in the shooting.

The affidavit states Cearley heard from a source that the Mahdys were growing marijuana in a 1996 Chevrolet motor home, which was parked at the Western Motel. The informant told Cearley there were several firearms, including an AR-15, and about 100 marijuana plants growing in the RV. Another person who lives near the Western Motel told Cearley he sees several people, including juveniles, walking down his street to the Western Motel, and he believed controlled substances were being sold at the motel.

The affidavit also states Cearley ran the Mahdys' information through the National Crime Information Center database and found they were convicted of felony drug crimes in Louisiana.

Charges stemming from the July 11 search did not include felons in possession of firearms. Ashley Mahdy was charged with petty misdemeanor possession of marijuana and misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia, according to Socorro County Magistrate Court records.