We’ve been watching New Mexico’s judiciary and the system that surrounds it for some time. It is with a growing sense of alarm that we have watched judges inexplicably dismiss cases, involve themselves in illegal behavior, and generally treat their offices and the public with disrespect.
Before we begin, we believe that there are a number of honest, hard-working judges in New Mexico that take their jobs seriously. Their devotion to the spirit and the letter of the law are admirable and deserve praise.
However, the reality is that judges hold positions of great power and little public scrutiny. They have the authority to punish offenders and the responsibility to protect the public from those same offenders.
Last week we all found out about the punishment recommended by the Judicial Standards Commission for Metropolitan Court Judge J. Wayne Griego’s 14 counts of judicial misconduct (ABQ Journal - Subscription). Griego was found to have misused his publically granted judicial authority to help friends, family, staffers, and colleagues avoid proper judicial review and potential punishment by intervening on their behalf.
Even though this wasn’t the first time that Judge Griego has been caught with his hand in the judicial cookie jar (ABQ Journal - Subscription), the Judicial Standards Commission recommended only a 90 day suspension without pay and a $12,000 fine to pay for hearing costs. Of course this is just a recommendation, the Supreme Court could decide on a stiffer punishment or none at all.
Our question is a simple one… If Judge Griego has run afoul of judicial standards not once but twice, how can the public trust any decision made by the Judicial Gerrymanderer?
Our system of justice is based on the faith that we the governed can receive a fair and impartial hearing on any civil or criminal charge. Judges that make exceptions for friends, staffers, and family call into question the impartiality and the essential fairness of the system.
We understand that court rooms often become a kind of members only club where the judges all know the defense lawyers and the district attorneys, the district attorneys know the defense attorneys and the judges, and the defense attorney’s know the district attorneys and the judges. It’s an incestuous little group that knows good from bad, favored from disfavored.
The result is that in places like Metropolitan Court where public scrutiny and/or attention are at the absolute minimum, judgments are often made based on the personalities of the players rather than the guilt or innocence of the accused.
It’s a sad fact of life that the public does not hold our judges to a higher level of scrutiny. A judge who engages in rigging cases either directly or behind the scenes should not be returning to the bench to have the opportunity to continue to wreak havoc on the court system and simultaneously destroy the public’s faith in the judicial system.
In this case Judge Griego is charged with and been found to have engaged in practices directly related to the impartial implementation of his job; and for the second time. The State Supreme Court should act to restore faith in our judiciary by removing Judge Griego from the bench where he has repeatedly abused the authority entrusted to him.
The Piercing Truth
This is right from the dictionary and seems to describe Albuquerque, Berry and Schultz. Fascism (f ash ,izem) noun An authoritarian right wing system of government and/or social organization. (in general use) extreme right wing, authoritarian, chauvinistic and/or intolerant views or practices. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one group over another, national, ethnic, especially social strata or monetarily; a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach. Compliments of one of our Eyes