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Thu Jun 27, 2013, 04:26 PM

5-year legal fight over O’Doul’s beer

5-year legal fight over O’Doul’s beer

TUCUMCARI – A Tucumcari man’s five-year effort to be exonerated of charges for having an open container of O’Doul’s non-alcoholic beer in his car ran into a procedural hurdle Tuesday in 10th District Court.

Judge Albert Mitchell threw out Gary Southern’s motion to have his conviction for having an open container of an alcoholic beverage in his car set aside because it was based on a writ of coram nobis, a procedural device that has been abolished in New Mexico courts.

A writ of coram nobis would allow a court decision to be thrown out in some cases if it is based on an error in fact.

Mitchell then advised Southern that he had two options: He could appeal Mitchell’s decision of Tuesday or file a motion for a writ of habeus corpus with the court.

Southern’s difficulty started in 2008 when a Tucumcari police officer pulled him over after observing Southern making improper lane crossings when negotiating a turn, records show.

The officer, identified as L.P. Emilio, noticed the open container of O’Doul’s and another open empty O’Doul’s container in the car, records show. Southern told the officer that he was drinking the O’Doul’s, and the officer charged Southern with having an open container of an alcoholic beverage in the car, a criminal offense under state law. He was found guilty before Municipal Judge Joe Dominguez.


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