SANTA FE — The New Mexico Compilation Commission, the state’s official legal publisher, announced that unprecedented free online access to the official master database of state laws became available to the public May 1.
Convenient online access to more legal materials, including forms used for filings in court cases, assists the increasing number of New Mexicans who represent themselves in civil legal proceedings.
“The public deserves easy access to the law and judges need the most current information when making decisions. With these changes, all lawyers and self-represented litigants will have the same unfettered access to the most up-to-date versions of New Mexico’s statutes and rules and will be able to download court-approved forms without charge,” Supreme Court Chief Justice Judith Nakamura said at the time. “The Supreme Court strongly supports the Compilation Commission’s move to free and accessible online delivery of New Mexico’s statutes, rules and appellate court opinions and the Commission’s recognition of the need for printed materials.”
The expansive master database of annotated statutes, appellate court decisions, court procedural rules and forms, session laws and Attorney General’s opinions is available at www.nmonesource.com. No other state offers free access to a similar legal database, said Brenda Castello, executive director of the Compilation Commission.
“New technology allows the Compilation Commission to optimize publishing processes and realize operational savings, making free online access a reality,” Castello said.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said, “Equal access to the law is an unassailable right of every New Mexico citizen. I am proud we will lead the country in the breadth and depth of free online access to laws and court opinions. As a practical matter, this change also represents a genuine cost-savings to our state agencies while providing them with the tools to better assist the public they serve.”
Statutes without annotations and court rules have been available on the Compilation Commission’s free public access site since 2012. Fees were charged for annotated statutes and other legal materials published in print, on DVD and through an online subscription to NMOneSource.com™ since the state decided in 2004 to self-publish the state’s official laws through the Compilation Commission.
Annotated statutes provide additional legal research aids such as summaries of precedent-setting court decisions and nonbinding opinions of the Attorney General’s Office interpreting a state law. The free online system will include additional information about rules governing court procedures, which previously was available only by subscription.
“Non-profit legal aid associations and organizations will now have a robust body of law at their fingertips as they render critical legal services to New Mexicans,” Castello said.
As Raúl Burciaga, director of the New Mexico Legislative Council Service, explained, “The Legislature pushed to have a public access site for the statutes for use by the public in 2012. The Commission’s move to now provide the entire official laws with annotations for public access without charge was unanimously supported by the members of the New Mexico Legislature. The Legislature relies exclusively on the official compilation by the Compilation Commission, and it goes the extra mile by updating NMOneSource.com with new or amended laws on their effective dates.”
The public may view brief instructional videos on the “Search Laws” page of the New Mexico Compilation Commission’s YouTube channel available through its website at www.nmcompcomm.us. Topics such as how to look up a statute, court opinion or court rule and how to download a court form are available.