2019 New Mexico Statutes
Chapter 12 - Miscellaneous Public Affairs Matters
Article 2A - Uniform Statute and Rule Construction Act
Section 12-2A-20 - Other aids to construction.
A. In considering the text of a statute or rule in light of Sections 2 through 7 [12-2A-2 to 12-2A-7 NMSA 1978] and Sections 18 and 19 [12-2A-18 and 12-2A-19 NMSA 1978] of the Uniform Statute and Rules Construction Act, and the context in which the statute or rule is applied, the following aids to construction may be considered in ascertaining the meaning of the text:
(1) the meaning of a word or phrase may be limited by the series of words or phrases of which it is a part; and
(2) the meaning of a general word or phrase following two or more specific words or phrases may be limited to the category established by the specific words or phrases.
B. In addition to considering the text of a statute or rule in light of Sections 2 through 7 and Sections 18 and 19 of the Uniform Statute and Rules Construction Act, the context in which the statute or rule is applied and the aids to construction in Subsection A of this section, the following aids to construction may be considered in ascertaining the meaning of the text:
(1) a settled judicial construction in another jurisdiction as of the time a statute or rule is borrowed from the other jurisdiction;
(2) a judicial construction of the same or similar statute or rule of this or another state;
(3) an official commentary published and available before the enactment or adoption of the statute or rule;
(4) an administrative construction of the same or similar statute or rule of this state;
(5) a previous statute or rule, or the common law, on the same subject;
(6) a statute or rule on the same or a related subject, even if it was enacted or adopted at a different time; and
(7) a reenactment of a statute or readoption of a rule that does not change the pertinent language after a court or agency construed the statute or rule.
C. If, after considering the text of a statute or rule in light of Sections 2 through 7 and Sections 18 and 19 of the Uniform Statute and Rules Construction Act, the context in which the statute or rule is applied and the aids to construction in Subsections A and B of this section, the meaning of the text or its application is uncertain, the following aids to construction may be considered in ascertaining the meaning of the text:
(1) the circumstances that prompted the enactment or adoption of the statute or rule;
(2) the purpose of a statute or rule as determined from the legislative or administrative history of the statute or rule; and
(3) the history of other legislation on the same subject.
History: Laws 1997, ch. 173, § 20.ANNOTATIONS
Effective dates. — Laws 1997, ch. 173 § 22 made the Uniform Statute and Rule Construction Act effective July 1, 1997.
Decisions of other jurisdictions. — Courts may consider other jurisdictions' interpretations of Uniform Health-Care Decisions Act to effectuate the purpose of uniformity with other states that have likewise adopted the uniform act. Corum v. Roswell Senior Living LLC, 2010-NMCA-105, 149 N.M. 287, 248 P.3d 329, cert. denied, 2010-NMCERT-010, 149 N.M. 64, 243 P.3d 1146.
The fundamental rule in construing statutes is to ascertain and give effect to the intention of the legislature. State v. Chavez, 1966-NMSC-217, 77 N.M. 79, 419 P.2d 456.
Purpose of statutory construction. — The supreme court will construe a statute to give it its intended effect. New Mexico State Hwy. Comm'n v. Ferguson, 1982-NMSC-107, 98 N.M. 680, 652 P.2d 230.
Courts must interpret a statute so as to accomplish the ends sought by the legislature. C. de Baca v. Baca, 1964-NMSC-006, 73 N.M. 387, 388 P.2d 392.
Intent of legislature ascertained by statutory construction. — In construing a statute, a court must do so with the ultimate purpose of ascertaining and giving effect to the manifest intent of the legislature. Wells v. County of Valencia, 1982-NMSC-048, 98 N.M. 3, 644 P.2d 517.
Intent determined from language of statute. — Where there is ambiguity, interpretation is required, but that interpretation is for the purpose of determining legislative intent when it is to be determined primarily from the language used in the statute. State v. McHorse, 1973-NMCA-144, 85 N.M. 753, 517 P.2d 75.
Statement of legislators. — The statement of legislators, especially after the passage of legislation, cannot be considered competent evidence in establishing what the legislature intended in enacting a measure. Regents of Univ. of N.M. v. N.M. Fed'n of Teachers, 1998-NMSC-020, 125 N.M. 401, 962 P.2d 1236.
When language plain, intention expressed given effect. — The intention, of course, must be the intention expressed in the statute, and where the meaning of the language employed is plain, it must be given effect. State v. Ortiz, 1967-NMCA-019, 78 N.M. 507, 433 P.2d 92.
Words given ordinary meaning unless intent indicates otherwise. — The court must view the legislative intent from the language of the act and the words will be given their ordinary meaning unless a different intent is clearly indicated. Davis v. Comm'r of Revenue, 1971-NMCA-129, 83 N.M. 152, 489 P.2d 660, cert. denied, 83 N.M. 151, 489 P.2d 659.
When words are added, rejected or substituted. — Courts will not add words except where necessary to make the statute conform to the obvious intent of the legislature, or to prevent its being absurd but where the language of the legislative act is doubtful or an adherence to the literal use of words would lead to injustice, absurdity or contradiction, the statute will be construed according to its obvious spirit or reason, even though this requires the rejection of words or the substitution of others. State v. Nance, 1966-NMSC-207, 77 N.M. 39, 419 P.2d 242, cert. denied, 386 U.S. 1039, 87 S. Ct. 1495, 18 L. Ed. 2d 605 (1967).
When words are transposed. — Words and phrases of statute may be transposed to carry out manifest intent of act. State ex rel. Dresden v. District Court of Second Judicial Dist., 1941-NMSC-013, 45 N.M. 119, 112 P.2d 506.
Defined terms. — When a term, comprised of more than one word, is expressly defined in a statute and a shortened form of the term appears elsewhere in the statutes in context similar to the use of the long form, and when the statute includes no definition for the shortened form, the court will presume that the two terms have the same definition. Regents of Univ. of N.M. v. N.M. Fed'n of Teachers, 1998-NMSC-020, 125 N.M. 401, 962 P.2d 1236.
Construction not to be absurd, literal interpretation yields to intent. — The legislative intent must be given effect by adopting a construction which will not render the statute's application absurd or unreasonable and the court will not be bound by a literal interpretation of the words if such strict interpretation would defeat the intended object of the legislature. State v. Nance, 1966-NMSC-207, 77 N.M. 39, 419 P.2d 242, cert. denied, 386 U.S. 1039, 87 S. Ct. 1495, 18 L. Ed. 2d 605 (1967).
The courts are committed to an acceptance of the intent of the language employed by the legislature rather than the precise definition of the words themselves. State v. Nance, 1966-NMSC-207, 77 N.M. 39, 419 P.2d 242, cert. denied, 386 U.S. 1039, 87 S. Ct. 1495, 18 L. Ed. 2d 605 (1967).
Entire provision read to give effect to all parts. — Statutes are to be given effect as written, and where free from ambiguity, there is no room for construction. Where there is ambiguity, however, and meaning is not clear, resort may be had to construction and interpretation and, even then, intent is to be determined primarily from the language used, and the entire provision is to be read together so that all parts are given effect in arriving at the intent of the drafters and promulgators. Fort v. Neal, 1968-NMSC-149, 79 N.M. 479, 444 P.2d 990.
All of statute and those in pari materia read together. — All of the provisions of a statute, together with other statutes in pari materia, must be read together to ascertain the legislative intent. Allen v. McClellan, 1965-NMSC-094, 75 N.M. 400, 405 P.2d 405, overruled on other grounds by N.M. Livestock Bd. v. Dose,1980-NMSC-022, 94 N.M. 68, 607 P.2d 606.
The purpose of the "pari materia" rule is to ascertain and carry into effect the legislature's intention. State v. Chavez, 1966-NMSC-217, 77 N.M. 79, 419 P.2d 456.
Consideration of contemporaneous documents. — Contemporaneous documents presented to and presumably considered by the legislature during the course of enactment of a statute may be considered by a court in attempting to glean legislative intent. State ex rel. Helman v. Gallegos, 1994-NMSC-023, 117 N.M. 346, 871 P.2d 1352.
Act in violation of statute void, exception. — The general rule of law is that an act done in violation of a statutory prohibition is void and confers no right upon the wrongdoer; but this rule is subject to the qualification that when, upon a survey of the statute, its subject matter and the mischief sought to be prevented, it appears that the legislature intended otherwise, effect must be given to that intention. State ex rel. State Tax Comm'n v. Garcia, 1967-NMSC-098, 77 N.M. 703, 427 P.2d 230.
Statutes are to be interpreted with reference to their manifest object, and "if the language is susceptible of two constructions, one which will carry out and the other defeat such manifest object, it should receive the former construction." Martinez v. Research Park, Inc., 1965-NMSC-146, 75 N.M. 672, 410 P.2d 200, overruled on other grounds by Sundance Mech. & Util. Corp. v. Atlas, 1990-NMSC-031, 109 N.M. 683, 789 P.2d 1250.
Evils to be corrected and purpose considered in construction. — The evils which the legislature intended to correct and the purpose of the legislation must be considered in construing a statute. It cannot be assumed that the legislature would do a futile thing. Hayes v. Hagemeier, 1963-NMSC-095, 75 N.M. 70, 400 P.2d 945.
Ordinary rules and intent are guides to construe penal statutes. — Penal statutes are not to be subjected to any strained or unnatural construction in order to work exemptions from their penalties, and such statutes must be interpreted by the aid of the ordinary rules for the construction of statutes, and with the cardinal object of ascertaining the intention of the legislature. State v. Ortiz, 1967-NMCA-019, 78 N.M. 507, 433 P.2d 92.
Presumption when one state adopts statute of another state. — Where one state adopts a statute of another state there is a presumption that it likewise adopts the construction of the statute by the courts of the state from which it was adopted. Gray v. Armijo, 1962-NMSC-082, 70 N.M. 245, 372 P.2d 821.
State court's construction of own statutes binds federal agencies and courts. — A state court has the function of declaring and construing its own statutes. Such determination is binding not only upon federal administrative agencies but upon federal courts as well. Pan Am. Petroleum Corp. v. El Paso Natural Gas Co., 1966-NMSC-271, 77 N.M. 481, 424 P.2d 397.
Long-standing interpretations by agencies not lightly overturned. — Long-standing interpretations of a doubtful or uncertain statute by the administrative agency charged with administering the statute are persuasive and will not be lightly overturned by the courts. Martinez v. Research Park, Inc., 1965-NMSC-146, 75 N.M. 672, 410 P.2d 200, overruled on other grounds by Sundance Mech. & Util. Corp. v. Atlas, 1990-NMSC-031, 109 N.M. 683, 789 P.2d 1250.
When factual issues similar administrative construction is highly persuasive. — A long-standing administrative construction of a statute in granting a tax exemption is highly persuasive authority, however, such a rule is predicated upon the premise that the factual issues are similar. Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks, Lodge No. 461 v. N.M. Prop. Appraisal Dep't, 1971-NMCA-124, 83 N.M. 505, 494 P.2d 167, aff'd, 1972-NMSC-006, 83 N.M. 445, 493 P.2d 411.
Custom does not relieve party of clear-cut obligations of ordinance. Sanchez v. J. Barron Rice, Inc., 1967-NMSC-077, 77 N.M. 717, 427 P.2d 240.
Legislative acquiescence is used only when direct interpretative methods fail. — Use of legislative acquiescence in exercise of power by an agency as evidence of legislative interpretation of a statute is to be resorted to only where meaning is doubtful, and when direct methods of interpretation have failed. State ex rel. Lee v. Hartman, 1961-NMSC-171, 69 N.M. 419, 367 P.2d 918.
Ascertainment of legislative intent. — The controlling consideration in construing a statute is ascertainment of the legislative intent, and such legislative intent is determined primarily from the language actually contained in the statute. 1962 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 62-65.
Matter may be implied to effect intent. — The spirit, as well as the letter of the statute, must be respected; and where the whole context of a law demonstrates a particular intent in the legislature to effect a certain object, some degree of implication may be called in to aid that intent. 1961 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 61-75.
Failure to disapprove of agency's interpretation is persuasive. — Where the legislature has met since the particular department placed its interpretation on a given statute, its failure to indicate that the administrative construction is not actually in accord with legislative intent is a persuasive argument that the legislative body approves of the administrative agency's construction. 1961 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 61-75.
When statutes void. — A statute may be void for vagueness where no ascertainable legislative intent is revealed. It may be equally void where there is more than one reasonable construction possible but there is no means of determining which construction was intended by the legislature. 1961 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 61-32.
Effect of construction prior to amendment. — When a statute has been construed and the legislature in amending the same substantially sets forth the section in language identical with that which has theretofore been construed, the legislature may be regarded as adopting the construction theretofore made. 1961 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 61-41.