Judge continues restraining order
Judge Manuel Arrieta in Third Judicial District Court continued Doña Ana County’s temporary restraining order against the office of County Sheriff Enrique “Kiki” Vigil for 40 days.
County spokesman Jess Williams said the extension is to allow the sheriff time to retain legal counsel.
At issue is whether the county or the sheriff’s department should operate the Doña Ana County Detention Center after the center’s director, Christopher Barela, was arrested for fraud Tuesday, Dec. 8.
On that day, Vigil’s office took control of the jail, but later in the day Vigil was served with the temporary restraining order by County Manager Julia Brown to relinquish control of the center, which the sheriff’s office did.
In its petition filed with the court, Doña Ana County reports it has hired a jail administrator “to operate the jail with the assistance of trained staff organized under the county manager and independent from the sheriff.”
Arrieta ruled “The sheriff’s office may be on the premises to conduct criminal investigations, interview witnesses, secure evidence relating to the investigation of C. Barela, transport prisoners and similar authorized duties of the sheriff’s department.”
Barela is charged with fraud related to use of the inmate welfare fund.