Thursday, February 21, 2008
Metro Judge May Face Suspension
FOR THE RECORD: This story about Metro Court Judge J. Wayne Griego’s recommended suspension said he was accused of doing favors for family, close personal colleagues and court staff. The story should have made clear that the court staff involved was limited to his secretary and court clerk. The story was based on incorrect information provided to the Journal.
By Scott Sandlin
Copyright © 2008 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer
A Metropolitan Court judge faces possible suspension for allegedly doling out favors to family and friends.
The Judicial Standards Commission found that Judge J. Wayne Griego "knowingly involved himself and interfered with the adjudication of (Metropolitan Court traffic cases) for family members," as well as for friends, close personal colleagues, court staff members and their families.
The commission recommended that the state Supreme Court temporarily suspend and formally reprimand Griego, according to a news release.
Report & recommendation for discipline for Judge Griego by the N.M. Judicial Standards Commission pdf download
Journal editorial: Griego's Conduct Hurts All Judges Feb. 25, 2008 editorial
Metro Judge Reprimanded June 15, 2007 story
Court Reprimands Judge for Rubber-Stamping Traffic Cases June 14, 2007 story
Journal editorial: Court Cannot Tolerate Ticket-Fixing Worker Feb. 24, 2007 editorial
Judge Suspends Secretary Feb. 20, 2007 story
The record of a trial conducted by the commission Jan. 28-30 and the commission's findings of fact will be filed today with the Supreme Court along with the recommendations for discipline, executive director James Noel said.
Griego did not return a call seeking comment.
The judge was reprimanded in 2005 by the Supreme Court after directing his secretary to sign off on traffic case plea agreements when he was delayed returning home from a vacation. In that case, he was fined $500 and placed on supervised probation and mentored by another judge.
Noel said the charges in the current case are separate from the earlier disciplinary action.
After hearing from 26 witnesses last month, the commission concluded Griego merited discipline for violating provisions of the New Mexico Code of Judicial Conduct and for willful misconduct in office. Judicial Standards Commission proceedings are closed to the public.
The commission concluded Griego had committed misconduct in 14 of 19 counts charged.
Griego, the commission found, was "aware of and participated in the improper handling of the traffic citations at issue in this case" and that he had taken advantage of his position to dispose of traffic citations.
The commission also concluded Griego "was not completely forthcoming in his testimony," specifically noting that his testimony blaming court staff was "not deemed credible."
The commission recommended:
A 90-day suspension from office without pay.
A formal reprimand by the high court.
That Griego reimburse the commission for costs of nearly $12,000.
That Griego be required to submit to the court and the commission written policies for addressing his conflict of interest and staff supervision issues.
In the earlier case, Griego apologized, saying when he was returning late from a trip he called his secretary and asked her to use a rubber stamp with his signature to approve more than 100 plea deals in traffic cases.
In February 2007, he suspended his secretary for getting the judge's signature on two traffic tickets issued to another court employee's relatives. Griego was quoted at the time as saying the secretary had brought him tickets she said were paid and asked for his signature.
Griego was appointed to the court by Gov. Bill Richardson in 2003.