SANTA FE, N.M. — State District Judge Eugenio S. Mathis of Las Vegas, N.M., has agreed to resign from the bench and never hold judicial office, ending a disciplinary proceeding in which he admitted misconduct including “excessive and improper” instant messaging with his wife while presiding over trials or other proceedings.
Mathis also admitted that he referred to parties in a domestic violence case as “chigando,” or acting crazy; violating the state judiciary’s computer and Internet use policy; making disparaging comments to his wife, a court employee, about other judges; and other violations of the judicial code of conduct.
But in his resignation agreement with the Judicial Standards Commission, released Thursday by the state Supreme Court, Mathis denied a long list of other allegations, among them that he had engaged in “communications of a sexual nature” with his wife during the workday, “including intimations that he had or would be having sexual relations with her during the workday and/or on court premises.”
A thick packet of chat logs, presumably between Mathis and his wife, were filed at the Supreme Court as part of the Judicial Standards Commission’s petition to discipline Mathis.
In the messages, the chatters talk about dinner plans, flirt, ask each other how their day is going, discuss paying bills and gossip about their co-workers at court.
The log shows someone making a comment about making “hanky panky” while someone tests the court’s alarm system.
“Don’t come knocking if the jury room is rockin’,” one message reads.
It can be difficult to determine from the logs who is saying what, but one such interaction appears to show the chatters joking about denying a juror’s request to be excused to attend a funeral.
Another exchange goes:
“One more hearing. Are you ready to go home??”
“i’VE BEEN READY SINCE 8:05”
Another comment during this conversation on the afternoon of Jan. 3 was, “No lie! I’m on the verge of going postal.”
The problem with this, according to the Supreme Court filings by the Judicial Standards Commission, is that these conversations take place over the state court’s instant messaging service in violation of a computer and Internet use policy.
In part, this policy states that the computer hardware is for work. Although the policy allows for limited computer use for personal reasons on breaks or lunch time, it prohibits using the computers when it interferes with judicial business.
The commission on Feb. 22 filed a stipulation with Mathis in which the two sides asked the state Supreme Court to approve a motion accepting Mathis’ permanent resignation from the bench.
According to Commission Executive Director Randall D. Roybal, the high court approved the motion and ordered Mathis to resign Thursday.
Mathis could not be reached for comment.
In the motion, Mathis also admitted to violating the code of conduct by making “judicial statements” about pending cases, referring to a petitioner in a name change case as “weird” and failing to cooperate with other judges “in the proper and orderly administration of court business.”
One of these comments included referring to parties in a domestic violence hearing as acting crazy.
Also among the allegations that Mathis would not admit to were that he undermined his wife’s supervisors; permitted his wife to pay bills and shop online during business hours; gave opinions of what he thought a jury’s verdict should be in a trial; said he hoped a defendant had to register as a sex offender; and made verbal remarks manifesting bias, prejudice and harassment concerning jurors.
Mathis had been a district judge since 1992, according to his most recent evaluation on the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission website.
The evaluation recommended in 2008 that voters retain Mathis, stating that he received high ratings for being punctual, respectful of court employees, being attentive to proceedings and being familiar with his case load by preparing for cases ahead of time.