New Energy Economy Inc. v. VanziAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court addressed the question of what level of participation in an administrative rule-making proceeding gives a participant the right to defend that new rule in an appellate court during a subsequent appeal. Each of the four petitions for writs of superintending control stemmed from an appeal of a decision made by one of two administrative agencies, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) or the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC). Those petitions arose from appeals of administrative rule makings: one appeal challenging rules adopted by EIB and the other challenging rules adopted by WQCC. The Court of Appeals denied appellee status to all four Petitioners, and the Petitioners requested that the Supreme Court issue writs of superintending control to overturn those rulings. The Court consolidated the four petitions and, after hearing oral arguments, issued the writs requested by three of the Petitioners while rejecting the fourth: "[b]eyond the party initiating the proceeding, [the Court] need only decide in this case whether participants who have presented technical testimony are 'parties' to an appeal as contemplated under [New Mexico] rules. [The Court concluded] that they are." [Petitioners] were not just participants who happened to be recognized as parties by EIB and WQCC. Rather, each participated in the rule-making proceedings in a legally significant manner. Each was required to file advance notice of participation, naming their witnesses and the witnesses' qualifications, and each was required to satisfy other prerequisites to their testimony. In addition, Petitioners contributed the kind of evidence that directly informed the inquiries made by EIB and WQCC in making their final decisions. Thus, the Court concluded that the requirements imposed upon Petitioners afforded them a right to defend their positions as parties on appeal.