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Pfeffer to retire from bench in October

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A First Judicial District Court judge will be leaving the bench soon for a retirement full of art-making and traveling with his wife.

Criminal court Judge Stephen Pfeffer, 65, said on Tuesday that he will be retiring on Oct. 11. After being appointed to the bench back in December 1996 by then-Gov. Gary Johnson and being sworn in the following February on Valentine’s Day, Pfeffer said he’s ready to leave to develop more personal interests.

“I think I’m going to pursue woodworking and art projects,” he said. “I’ve taken a number of courses at the community college and I’ll probably take some more of those. There’s some excellent facilities there and I have a shop.”

The judge said he’s built furniture before but lately he’s been interested in more abstract projects. He emailed the Journal a picture of a sculpture he built recently that features a large wooden disc with a hole in the middle.

He said he wouldn’t be returning to full-time work unless he started to feel “fidgety.” He said he has no plans to pursue a career in politics, either.

Pfeffer said he would have faced a retention election next year.

The state Judicial Nominating Commission on Tuesday sent out a notice that there will be a vacancy for a family court judge following Pfeffer’s retirement. The dean of the University of New Mexico School of Law will be accepting applications for the positions from qualified attorneys.

The deadline for such applications is at 5 p.m. Sept. 13.

The Judicial Nominating Commission will then meet at 9 a.m. Sept. 19 at the Steve Herrera Judicial Complex in Santa Fe to evaluate the applicants. The meeting is open to the public, who will be able to make comments about any of the candidates.

This will be the latest in a series of changes at the First District Court.

Former criminal judge Michael Vigil retired in September after 18 years on the bench and was replaced by family court Judge Sylvia LaMar in December.

Former District Court Judge Barbara Vigil then left the bench after being elected in November to the state Supreme Court. She was replaced by Judge Frank Joseph Mathew, who was appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez in January.

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