Wednesday, April 23, 2008
The New Mexico Supreme Court ordered the removal of a judge who had engaged in the following misconduct:
"Over a period of almost three years, Metropolitan Court Judge J. Wayne Griego engaged in conduct that betrayed the public trust and undermined the judiciary’s integrity by bypassing evidentiary hearings and adjudicating tickets for family members and friends without state participation. When confronted with evidence of this conduct, Griego blamed his staff, an explanation that the New Mexico Judicial Standards Commission (the Commission) did not find credible. Under these circumstances, our constitutional duty demands that we remove Griego from the bench."
Removal from the bench was imposed notwithstanding a recommendation for suspension by the commission:
"The metropolitan court handles well over 100,000 cases per year. As a result, the public has a significant amount of contact with metropolitan court judges and staff. Indeed, one witness in this case characterized the metropolitan court as the 'people’s court,' and another testified that adjudicating traffic cases is a major part of a metropolitan court judge’s duties. A judge appointed to the metropolitan court should take the adjudication of traffic cases seriously. It is also significant that a metropolitan court judge must be a licensed attorney. As such, the judge has had the benefit of a law school education and has been required to pass a rigorous bar exam, including an exam exclusively pertaining to the Code of Professional Conduct. Ex parte communications are prohibited in the Code, Rule 16-305(B) NMRA, an ethical consideration of which Griego must have been aware prior to assuming his role as a judge. In our view, Griego’s conduct demonstrates a lack of commitment to his judicial duties and has an immeasurable impact on the public’s confidence in the judicial system." (Mike Frisch)