United States v. NM Supreme Court, No. 14-2037 (10th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
New Mexico Rule of Professional Conduct 16-308(E) prohibited a prosecutor from subpoenaing a lawyer to present evidence about a past or present client in a grand-jury or other criminal proceeding unless such evidence was “essential” and “there is no other feasible alternative to obtain the information.” In a lawsuit brought against the New Mexico Supreme Court and the state’s Disciplinary Board and Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the United States claimed that the enforcement of this rule against federal prosecutors licensed in New Mexico violated the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court concluded that Rule 16-308(E) was preempted with respect to federal prosecutors practicing before grand juries, but was not preempted outside of the grand-jury context. With this conclusion, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and affirmed the district court's decision.