Statute Interpretation Cases In New Mexico

In interpreting a statute, we are guided by statutory sections which focus specifically on a particular subject, and we look only secondarily to more general references elsewhere within the same statute. See City of Albuquerque v. Redding, 93 N.M. 757, 759, 605 P.2d 1156, 1158 (1980), overruled on other grounds by Bybee v. City of Albuquerque, 120 N.M. 17, 20, 896 P.2d 1164, 1167 (1995); Kerr-McGee Nuclear Corp. v. Prop. Tax Div., 95 N.M. 685, 690-91, 625 P.2d 1202, 1207-08 (Ct. App. 1980) (Hendley, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part). We attempt to interpret sections of the same statute in a harmonious manner. See Key v. Chrysler Motors Corp., 1996 NMSC 038, 1996 NMSC 38, 121 N.M. 764, 769, 918 P.2d 350, 355, aff'd in part & rev'd in part on other grounds, 2000- NMSC-010, P 22, 2000 NMSC 10, 128 N.M. 739, 998 P.2d 575. We indulge in the assumption that when the legislature has before it all sections of a statute at the same time, it intends to give equal weight to each section so as to produce a harmonious product free from internal contradictions and inconsistencies. In the absence of contrary evidence, we assume that the legislature used specific language for a reason, and that it had a purpose in preferring a specific course of action with regard to a certain issue or remedy. See State v. Santillanes, 2001 NMSC 018, PP7, 11, 130 N.M. 464, 27 P.3d 456; Gordon v. Sandoval County Assessor, 2001 NMCA 044, PP18-19, 130 N.M. 573, 28 P.3d 1114. This legislative preference supplants a more general, all-encompassing remedy found in the statute that is designed for a general problem or issue.