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Judge: County’s restraining order against sheriff expires in jail battle

Doa Ana County Sheriff Kiki Vigil and County Manager Julia Brown faced each other once again Tuesday before a judge to determine who will take control of the county jail.

After more than an hour of back and forth between attorneys, Judge Manuel Arrieta determined a temporary restraining order that forced Vigil and his deputies to leave the jail — served to Vigil by Brown during a news conference — had expired.

As ABC-7 reported, Vigil took control of the Doa Ana County Detention Center after the investigation and arrest of Jail Director Chris Barela.

On Tuesday, the courtroom was crowded with detention center officers, sheriff’s officials and two county commissioners, Billy Garrett and Wayne Hancock.

While Arrieta said the order had dissolved, he also said he needed more time to decide whether or not County Attorney Nelson Goodin is even authorized to represent the county.

His statement came after Vigil’s attorney, Gene Chavez, filed an emergency motion, claiming Goodin is a person of interest in the inmate welfare investigation that resulted in Barela’s arrest.

Chavez also claimed the county didn’t have the authority to file the restraining order in the first place.

Goodin said the county did have the authority and that the county continues to ask for a permanent injunction.He also claimed he was unaware he was a person of interest because he was never interviewed.

“If I’m a person of interest, I know nothing about it,” Goodin said.

“Let’s see where the chips fall and the truth will come out,” Vigil said. “You’ll see and like I’ve emphasized, that’s why I have a problem. When you have the county attorney being a person of interest and he’s here representing the county and he’s also supposed to represent the sheriff.”

It is unclear when the judge will make his decision on that emergency motion.

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