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Community figure goes up against voice of experience

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

In the Democratic primary for Santa Fe Magistrate Court’s Division 1 bench, the presiding judge of the court will face a former bail bondsmen who says he wants to put a greater emphasis on “public safety and accountability.”

David Segura is being challenged by Jerry Gonzales, his first opponent since his initial election as judge in 2006. In 2009, he became the court’s presiding judge.

Before taking the bench, Segura spent more than 20 years in law enforcement and retired from the Santa Fe Police Department as a captain in 2000, after work across several divisions, including the Special Weapons and Tactics team, Special Investigations and Internal Affairs.

Post-retirement, he worked for New Mexico Association of Counties and operated a life skills training business and another business with which he helped law firms find individuals for serving legal papers.

Segura said he retired from SFPD because of the dangers that SWAT operations presented for the father of two young sons, now 24 and 22. He and wife Carmela have been married 31 years.

As a magistrate judge, Segura said, he’s particularly proud of forming the DWI/Drug Court in 2008.

He ran the program, a nine-month process during which participants are required to attend therapy, participate in community service, complete regular drug tests and are offered educational opportunities to combat recidivism, until fall 2017.

Segura said he handed off the program to Judge George Anaya so he could work on establishing a similar court aimed specifically at addressing opioid abuse, which he said will be the focus of his next term if he is elected.

“We’re trying to plead those down to misdemeanors,” Segura said. “Get (offenders) back re-engaged in education, get them re-engaged in the workplace, and that way we’ve addressed many of the underlying issues.”

Aside from the experience he gained as an officer and judge, he thinks educational opportunities he’s pursued while serving on the bench “clearly” set him apart from his opponent. That includes training courses at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nev. Specifically, he touted a certificate in judicial development-special court trial skills earned in 2011 from the NJC. At the time, he was only the second magistrate judge in the state to obtain the certification.

“It’s a long time to gather this experience,” he said. “It doesn’t come overnight.”

Segura is also interested in developing specific court programs for domestic violence offenders and veterans. However, he said resources aren’t currently available due to flat budgets from the Legislature, which allocates funding for DWI/Drug Court.

Campaign finance reports show that Segura has raised only $800 for the race, compared with about $13,000 by challenger Gonzales. Segura said he didn’t intend to raise funds at all, but decided to after signs went up for Gonzales and supporters wanted to know if he was still running.

‘Enmeshed’ in community

When it comes to facing a long-term incumbent, Gonzales said he isn’t nervous, mainly because he feels he can relate to his fellow residents and the issues his hometown faces. “I shop at Wal-Mart with everybody,” Gonzales said. “I eat at the same restaurants the majority of these people eat at. I’m enmeshed within the community.”

Gonzales has recently been in search of a new career. He worked for his parents’ business, Jerry Gonzales Bail Bonding, for 26 years. He took over the business about 14 years ago. The nearly 40-year-old company closed last summer.

Bail reform via a voter-passed constitutional amendment in late 2016 led to the closure, he said, citing the amendment’s stipulation that says non-dangerous people awaiting trial for lower-level offenses should be released on unsecured bonds.

After considering other ideas over the past year, like opening up a barbershop or sandwich shop, he says, he decided he had the judicial system experience to be an effective magistrate judge. “I’ve been face-to-face with thousands of people,” Gonzales said. “I’ve dealt with their families. I understand the issues here in the city.”

As someone who has sat in courtrooms for his bail bond business, Gonzales said, he doesn’t believe the courts are playing a large enough role in holding people accountable, particularly those who don’t comply with conditions of release.

“We have law enforcement that continues picking up the same people on a regular basis,” Gonzales said. “That means our court system gets clogged up with somebody who continues to pick up case after case.”

He said his former job as a bail bondsman would not influence the types of terms of release that he sets for defendants in criminal cases. “My only agenda is to serve this community to the best of my ability,” he said. Gonzales is a father of two, ages 23 and 20, and the grandfather of one.

In 2011, three Edgewood residents sued Gonzales and his business, claiming two of his solicitors and a contracted “fugitive recovery” team raided the wrong home, threatened people there and held one while looking for the fugitive.

Gonzales’ court response said residents of the home were harboring the fugitive, the Torrance County Sheriff’s Office had been notified ahead of time and the homeowner gave the group permission to enter. It also says one resident was restrained because he threw a glass bottle at the group. The suit was settled out of court.

Gonzales told the Journal recently that he couldn’t discuss details of the settlement. But he noted the Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office and State Police investigated the plaintiffs’ claims and cited no wrongdoing.

“I was found to have done my business,” he said.


SANTA FE COUNTY MAGISTRATE JUDGE CANDIDATES

Division 1

David A. Segura

AGE: 59

EDUCATION: Attended New Mexico State University, Criminal Justice (1976-1977); attended Santa Fe Community College, Education; Santa Fe High School, 1976 graduate.

Course work through the National Judicial College and other nationally recognized judicial training institutions or programs on numerous subjects related to the law and the judiciary; University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management, Human Resource Management Certificate Program; Northwestern University, School of Police Staff and Command, completed June 1993; New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy, graduated March 1981.

OCCUPATION: Presiding judge, Santa Fe Magistrate Court, Division 1

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: More than 20-year law enforcement career. I was promoted through a competitive process to the ranks of detective, sergeant, lieutenant and captain. I served as public information officer from 1987 to 1999. I served on and commanded the Special Weapons and Tactics team from 1984 to 1999.

First elected magistrate judge in 2006 and have served three consecutive terms as Magistrate Judge for a total of 12 years. Presiding (managing) judge of the Santa Fe Magistrate Court for nine years. In 2008, implemented and presided over the first DWI Drug Court in the First Judicial District.

WHY I’M RUNNING: I am running for re-election to the Magistrate Court Bench to continue my commitment to service for the citizens of Santa Fe County. As a Police Officer and Commander for the Santa Fe Police Department for 20 years, I was called upon to exercise judgment in situations that were as simple as traffic offenses or as dangerous as barricaded subjects and crisis negotiations. These situations required competence, patience, experience and skill to be resolved in the best interests of the community.

Upon taking the Bench for the first time in 2006, I recognized a series of policy and procedural shortcomings in our court processes that were in need of revision. I worked diligently with the Administrative Office of the Courts and the New Mexico Supreme Court to resolve these issues and improve the Santa Fe Magistrate Court, resulting in improved efficiency and outcomes for the court and those that we serve.

I have worked in the area of addiction by implementing the first DWI Drug Court in the 1st Judicial District and continue to work closely with the 1st Judicial District Attorney as we develop a means to address the opioid crisis in our community.

During a public service career of over 32 years, I have continued to pursue training and educational opportunities to ensure that I am fully prepared to take on the challenges presented in my court every day. I believe that I have the experience, qualifications and demonstrated commitment to continue my service to our community.

BACKGROUND QUESTIONS

1. Have you or your business — if you are a business owner — ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens? No

2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding? No

3. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony? No


Jerry Gonzales Jr.

AGE: 44

EDUCATION: High school

OCCUPATION: Retired

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Former owner of Jerry Gonzales Bail Bonding. In 1991, I became a licensed bail bondsman and began working in my family’s business. In 2006, I purchased the business from my parents. I worked with residents of Santa Fe County to assist families who needed to bail family members or loved ones out of jail, and who also needed questions answered regarding the court system and pending litigation.

During my years in bail bonding, I also acquired experience working within the court system, often being the first person to work with litigants, their family, friends, and also working with those impacted by ongoing cases,, such as the judges, counsel and victims. I gained quintessential knowledge of the court system, the laws and the day-to-day workings of the Magistrate Court process.

WHY I’M RUNNING: I decided to run for Magistrate Court judge because I want to make a difference in our community. I want to help make Santa Fe a safer place to live. Public safety and accountability are my focus, but also addressing underlying issues, such as drug addiction and mental illness.

If elected, I would work closely with public safety agencies, electronic monitoring, mental illness health services, and drug and alcohol abuse centers to try and tackle these issues that our community is facing.

Last but not least, I want to help restore faith in our judicial system.

BACKGROUND QUESTIONS

1. Have you or your business — if you are a business owner — ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens? No.

2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding? No.

3. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony? When I was 18, I was arrested, but not convicted of, minor in possession of alcohol.

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