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District Court race pits judge against judge

The race for a seat in the 2nd Judicial District Court pits a Metropolitan Court judge against an incumbent judge.

Second Judicial District Court Judge Division 15 candidates Republican Daniel Gallegos and Democrat Courtney Weaks.

Democrat Courtney Weaks, who has been at Metro Court since 2014, is challenging incumbent Daniel Gallegos, a Republican, for a seat on the 2nd Judicial District Court’s criminal bench.

Gallegos was appointed to the position in late 2018 and has to run in the general election to keep the seat.

Weaks, who was born and raised in Albuquerque, started her legal career as a prosecutor in the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office after graduating from the University of New Mexico School of Law. She then went into private practice and did contract work with the state Law Offices of the Public Defender.

Weaks won her seat at Metro Court in the 2014 general election.

“I have a very unique experience,” Weaks said. “It’s rare to have an individual who’s been a prosecutor and a defense attorney. I’ve been a criminal judge for six years now, so I have trial experience.”

Gallegos, also born and raised in Albuquerque, joined the military’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps after getting his law degree from the University of Notre Dame and started prosecuting crimes in military court.

After a stint that included a six-month deployment to Iraq in 2007, Gallegos said he missed home and came back to Albuquerque.

He became an assistant district attorney in Sandoval County before moving to the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office. From there, he went to the Court of Appeals as a staff attorney, where he did legal research and writing for the judges.

He was appointed to the Court of Appeals in January 2018 but lost to Megan Duffy in the November 2018 general election. In December 2018 he was appointed to his position in the 2nd Judicial District Court by then-Gov. Susana Martinez.

A nonpartisan nominating commission recommended Gallegos to Martinez. Gallegos said he hopes that gives him an edge over his opponent.

“The prevalence of crime in the community, I think, makes it a very important election,” Gallegos said. “Who do the voters want to make the hard decisions when it comes to crime and public safety? … I have the experience in the actual work of the court that she does not have.”

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