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The Fierro Trial

As weak as it is on the business beat, the New Mexican has been providing riveting coverage of the Fierro trial, Santa Fe’s Bonfire of the Vanities. (The Journal’s reports have also been excellent.) Mr. Fierro, a local lawyer with political connections, was driving blind drunk with his headlights off when his black BMW struck and killed a pedestrian, William Tenorio. Mr. Fierro just kept on going. He said he thought Mr. Tenorio was a rock. When he was apprehended a few blocks away his blood alcohol level approached three times the legal limit.

In a world where there is no right or wrong, just technicalities, Mr. Fierro’s lawyers are contending that his drunkenness was not a contributing factor — that some streetlights were out and that the victim, who was only somewhat less inebriated than Mr. Fierro, was wearing black.

Complicating matters, both Mr. Fierro and Mr. Tenorio had been at a bar that evening called Willee’s Blues Club. So had the eyewitnesses, though we have no way of knowing their blood alcohol counts. Two years ago I described a discussion I heard one morning on KBAC radio in which the owner of Willee’s was complaining about police officers lurking outside his club to apprehend potential drunk drivers. The “Orwellian” surveillance was bad for business, he said, and an impediment to a vibrant Santa Fe night life. The gestapo must not have been on duty when Carlos Fierro stumbled into his car and managed to start the ignition. Otherwise William Tenorio might not have died, at least not on that particular night.

George Johnson
The Santa Fe Review