Tuesday, August 19, 2008
The New Mexico Supreme Court removed a magistrate judge from his judicial office, rejecting the suggestion that the matter should have been considered by a special master rather than the Judicial Standards Commission. The judge was found to have engaged in an ex parte conversation with the complaining witness in a domestic violence case, promised a couple that he would help them with a landlord-tenant case and advised them on how to excuse another magistrate judge and (as the Commission found) "abused his power and improperly involved himself" in a DWI case where he knew the defendant's son. Removal from office was appropriate because:
...we agree with the Commission that the evidence demonstrates that Judge Rodella’s testimony lacked credibility. This lack of credibility and an apparent unwillingness to admit mistakes, combined with sufficient evidence of willful misconduct, lead us to conclude that Judge Rodella cannot serve as a judge. We therefore adopt the Commission’s recommendation that Judge Rodella be permanently removed from office.