Panel announces judicial retention recommendations for this year - Albuquerque Journal

Panel announces judicial retention recommendations for this year

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

An evaluation commission on Friday recommended that voters retain New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Michael Vigil and seven Bernalillo County Metro Court judges standing for retention this year.

The Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission made no “do-not-retain” recommendations this year for any of the nine judges standing for retention on Nov. 8 general election ballots.

The commission offered no recommendation on state Court of Appeals Judge Jane Yohalem, who was not evaluated due to time limitations. Yohalem was elected to the Court of Appeals in November 2020.

Denise Torres, JPEC chairwoman, said the commission this year took into account restrictions placed on the courts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The past two years have been challenging for judges and everyone else in our community and state due to COVID-19,” Torres told a news conference Friday. “We have taken into account the technological challenges of conducting hearings and trials remotely.”

The commission recommended that voters retain seven Bernalillo County Metro Court judges. They are: Rosie Lazcano Allred; Vidalia Chavez; Maria Dominguez; Jason Jaramillo; Brittany Maldonado Malott; Jill Martinez; and Christine Rodriguez.

Judges standing for retention must receive 57% voter approval to remain on the bench. JPEC does not evaluate judges running in partisan elections.

The evaluations are based, in part, on confidential surveys distributed to people who have regular contact with the judges, including other judges, attorneys, court staff and such “resource staff” as law enforcement, and probation and parole officers.

Several Bernalillo County Metro Court judges received relatively low scores among some groups surveyed, particularly resource and court staff.

Torres said the commission recommended retaining those candidates because they received higher scores among other groups, or showed improvement since an earlier mid-term evaluation.

JPEC also bases evaluations on statistics gathered by the Administrative Office of the Courts, such as caseload and the time required to resolve cases. Each judge also has at least one personal interview with commission members.

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