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An Albuquerque architect who is married to a state judge said his business lease was terminated last week in response to a legal ruling made by his wife.
Stephen Leos, the husband of 2nd Judicial District Judge Cindy Leos, said Thursday that he received a Sept. 23 email saying his lease was terminated and he needed to be out of his Downtown office by Oct. 31.
When he sought an explanation, property owner Doug Peterson told him, “I am terminating your lease because your wife lets out murderers and rapists,” Leos said, recalling a Sept. 24 phone conversation.
The comment was a reference to the Sept. 22 ruling by Judge Leos to release a man awaiting trial for allegedly sexually assaulting two girls at his home.
At the end of the call, Peterson said, “I have over a million square feet of rental space in the city of Albuquerque, and I don’t need your kind in my building,” Leos recalled.
Peterson, the president of Peterson Properties LLC, acknowledged that he had terminated the lease but declined to explain why or to confirm any details about his conversation with Leos.
“Stephen was on a month-to-month lease, so we could terminate it at any time,” Peterson said Thursday in a phone interview. “We gave him the proper notice, and he needs to be out by Halloween.”
The termination of the lease coincided with a Sept. 23 post on the Facebook page of the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office that identified Judge Cindy Leos by name.
Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales will face off Nov. 2 in the Albuquerque mayoral race against Mayor Tim Keller and Eddy Aragon.
The BCSO Facebook post described the Sept. 16 arrest of Arthur Ruiz, 39, who is accused of sexually assaulting two of his daughter’s friends, ages 12 and 13, and giving them alcohol during a June 6 sleepover at his South Broadway home, court records show.
“Since then, a motion for preventative detention was denied by Judge Cindy Leos,” the Facebook post notes.
Peterson was among 573 people who shared the post.
“Judge Cindy Leos did it again!” Peterson wrote in the post he shared on his Facebook page. “They should put her picture on the little Get Out of Jail Free card in the Monopoly game.”
The BCSO post prompted hundreds of disparaging comments about judges in general, and Judge Leos in particular.
“Another idiotic liberal judge in New Mexico, say it is not so,” one person commented.
“This judge needs to have a psych evaluation. She doesn’t need to be on the bench as a judge,” another wrote.
Stephen Leos said he has operated his architectural firm from the ninth floor of the Simms Building for five years.
“I was intending to be in this office for as long as I could until I had enough capital to purchase my own building,” he said.
The termination of his lease is a major disruption and expense to his business at a time when his workload is picking up.
Leos said he spent $30,000 remodeling the office to serve as the law office for his wife when she was in private practice. Stephen Leos has used the office for his architectural firm since his wife was elected to the state bench in 2016.
When his lease expired last year, Leos said, he tried to secure a new four-year lease and was never told why he couldn’t obtain one. He has leased the office month to month for more than a year.
The issue of releasing people accused of violent crimes while awaiting trial has become a point of friction between the courts and law enforcement that is likely to spill into next year’s legislative session.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced her support in August for a change to the state’s bail reform law that would require people charged with violent offenses to show that they can be safely released.
Second Judicial District Attorney Raúl Torrez also said he plans to push for legislation that would require judges to lock up people awaiting trial for certain violent crimes, including murder and criminal sexual penetration.
In the recent case, Ruiz is charged with one count of criminal sexual penetration of a minor, two counts of criminal sexual contact with a minor, and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
After a Sept. 22 hearing, Judge Leos rejected a prosecutor’s request to hold Ruiz in jail pending trial.
“Defendant has some criminal history and appears he has successfully completed probation both instances in which he was ordered to probation,” the judge wrote in her order.
“Although the allegations are concerning, the evidence was not clear and convincing evidence that there are no conditions of release that could be implemented to protect the safety of others or the community,” she wrote.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article misspelled Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales’ name.