Russell Huffman

A woman in Las Cruces, New Mexico, faces multiple charges after obtaining tire repair items and carrying them in a lunch box down the main street. Sonya Smooth had additional charges lodged against her for dancing in a sombrero, public spitting, and challenging someone to a duel.

Police said Smooth, a former newspaper editor, also had warrants out of Quemado for misspelling the mayor’s name, appearing unshaven while covering a news story in Carrizozo, wearing a kimono in Raton, and multiple counts of riding a horse without a corset in Omega.

The New Mexico State Police and governor’s office are expected to hold a press conference later today to discuss how to handle and transport one of the state’s most notorious criminals.

If you’ve made it this far, you probably think this is all made up or that I lost a few marbles while falling out of my rocking chair.

Truth be known, Sonya Smooth doesn’t exist, but all the laws my imaginary outlaw broke have been, or still are, on the books in our state.

There are some oddball laws that may or may not land you in trouble, and the reasoning behind some of these has faded over time, which allows us to imagine why.

Lawmakers in Las Cruces were worried about people carrying pistols or weapons in their lunchboxes, or maybe they owned the local eateries and were hoping to increase their bottom line at lunchtime.

I hate to think if the law about spelling someone’s name wrong was statewide because I’d be labeled as a career criminal right up there with those felony horse trippers.
Intentionally tripping a horse in New Mexico is a misdemeanor charge, but if the horse is injured due to your antics, you could face a Class 4 felony. Tripping horses isn’t what you’d call an oddball law. Still, there had to have been some exciting reasoning that brought it about.

Of course, when these laws were enacted, they probably made sense, but who was hunting game in the cemetery in Deming? Did someone actually harvest a bull elk next to Uncle Earl’s final resting place? Did it happen during a funeral while the hunting season was on? Were they running a one-in-one-out special at the local funeral home?

They are extra challenging in Deming, where one of the city’s municipal codes reads, “It is unlawful for any person to spit or expectorate on any of the public sidewalks or paths in the city, or on the floor or steps of a public building which includes but is not limited to stores, hotels, churches, the opera house, office rooms, and any other public building in the city.”

When law and order began to stably run New Mexico, challenging someone to a duel became illegal. This isn’t oddball at all, but wording the law so that it didn’t prohibit an actual duel is weird. Dueling isn’t technically illegal (don’t try this at home); it’s the challenge that gets you in trouble.

Could you ask someone if they wanted to march ten paces apart and get away with it not being a challenge?

Speaking of challenges, I think it’s time to strike the dancing-in-a-sombrero law from the books.

Maybe organize a dance on Socorro’s historic plaza and dance in sombreros until the cows come home or the law comes calling. We can overcome!
Who’s in?