The New Mexico Supreme Court on Friday announced in an order that it is indefinitely suspending the issuance of new writs of garnishment and writs of execution in response to protecting individuals during the coronavirus pandemic.
A copy of the order can be accessed by clicking here. The suspension goes into effect as of Monday, June 8 and will remain in place until the court amends or withdraws it.
Writs of garnishment or execution that were issued prior to June 8 are not affected by the order.
The state Supreme Court’s order comes as other states are starting to loosen some of the prohibitions that were put into place in response to the COVID-19 crisis, including restrictions on debt collection activities. Both Texas and Iowa, for example, have allowed garnishments and asset seizures to resume in recent weeks.
There does appear to be an uptick in the number of confirmed cases of individuals who have tested positive for coronavirus in New Mexico. The 216 new cases on June 4 represented the largest one-day total in the state and was the fifth consecutive daily increase, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The court voted 4-to-1 in favor of the ban on garnishments, with Chief Justice Judith Nakamura dissenting.
“The current public health emergency has impacted the ability of many New Mexicans to appear in court, obtain representation, and avail themselves of self-help resources to claim exemptions from garnishment and execution,” according to the order, adding “this Court must exercise its equitable powers and power of superintending control over pleading and practice in the New Mexico Judiciary in response to the extraordinary circumstances presented by the current public health emergency by balancing the need for courts to proceed with garnishment and execution procedures for the collection of judgments, with protecting the due process rights of New Mexicans to claim exemptions and protect their assets from garnishment and execution as provided by law.”
In order for a new judgment to be approved while the order is in effect, judgment creditors must certify that the application is not “based on a judgment issued in a consumer debt collection case.”