Portales attorney facing felony charges

Robin Fornoff

Portales attorney Eric Dixon is accused of attempting to run down District Judge Ted L. Hartley with a vehicle in April outside the Curry County Courthouse.

Dixon was charged Wednesday with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a fourth-degree felony, according to 3rd Judicial District Attorney Amy Orlando of Las Cruces.

Orlando said she was appointed a special prosecutor in the case after 9th Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler stepped aside, citing a conflict of interest.

Hartley declined comment Wednesday, saying it would be inappropriate.

Attempts to reach Dixon weren’t successful. He denied the charges during an interview with an investigator.

The incident happened April 5 as Hartley was returning to his office from lunch, according to documents filed at Clovis Magistrate Court by 3rd Judicial District chief investigator, Kip Scarborough.

According to the court records:

• About 12:55 p.m. Hartley was crossing Main Street in front of the courthouse when he heard “a vehicle heavily accelerate,” with its horn blaring. Hartley, who was in the middle of the street, said the vehicle came straight at him and made no attempt to move to another lane.

Hartley said he was beginning to panic, thinking the vehicle was going to strike him but it missed him by inches and he was in fear for his life.

Hartley said he made eye contact with the driver and it was Dixon.

Hartley’s account of the incident was corroborated by a witness, county employee Annette Smythe.

Smythe, who was returning to work at the courthouse, said she was in her vehicle and heard a vehicle accelerate with its horn blaring while Hartley crossed the street and her first reaction was, “Oh my God, that vehicle is attempting to take Hartley out,” according to the court record. “Smythe stated that the vehicle came within inches of taking out Hartley.”

Smythe told investigators she recognized the driver as Dixon.

Dixon told the investigator he was proceeding down Main Street when he noticed someone “jaywalking on Main Street.” Dixon said the unknown subject didn’t look for traffic and proceeded to cross the street and Dixon gave a short honk and slowed down to 10 to 15 mph and passed the subject, who he recognized as Hartley.

Dixon told Scarborough that he was “in no way attempting to scare Hartley” and “that would jeopardize his career as an attorney by committing such an act,” according to court documents.