This website cannot be viewed properly using this version of Internet Explorer.

To ensure your security while viewing this site, please use a modern browser such as Chrome or update to a newer version of Internet Explorer.

Download Chrome (Made by Google)
Update Internet Explorer (Made by Microsoft)

A A A
ADA ADA symbol

Second Judicial District Court

Tribunal del Segundo Distrito Judicial

English Español

Most Popular Pages


Páginas más visitadas

News Updates

Meet Cassie the CASA Dog

Cassie & Judge WardOne of the most recognizable faces at the Bernalillo County Juvenile Justice Center belongs to Cassie, a 4-year-old Labrador retriever.

Cassie interacts with families, especially those with children, who need her friendship. When a girl is called to testify about traumatic abuse or neglect, Cassie might sit at her feet to provide solace. Or Cassie might stay with a sobbing boy who has just been separated from his parents after being placed into protective custody.

"Cassie provides great comfort in the courtroom and gets smiles from everyone she meets when she is in the building," Children’s Court Judge Marie Ward said.  "She is a silent companion who has a way of removing the edge from very difficult situations."

Cassie has been a presence at the Juvenile Justice Center since late 2013. She is a specially-trained Courthouse CASA dog, a name that is derived from the acronym for Court Appointed Special Advocates.

Cassie was purchased using a grant by New Mexico Kids Matter, the CASA program in Albuquerque. CASA believes that every child who has been abused, neglected or is in foster care deserves to have a dedicated volunteer advocate speaking up for them in court.

"We are very fortunate to have Cassie, both as a resource and as a friend," Judge Ward said.  "She brings a lift to everyone she meets and she is especially valuable to the children who need her most."

Cassie was trained by Assistance Dogs of the West, a Santa Fe-based accredited service dog organization that also provides service dogs for the Veterans Court program. Courthouse dogs have been used around the country since 2003.

For more information about CASA please visit www.nmkidsmatter.org.

back to list


​Archived News



Albuquerque, New Mexico-The Second Judicial District Court will establish a Young Adult Court (YAC) in early August of 2017. The mission of the YAC is to enhance long term public safety and reduce recidivism by working in partnership with young adults, supporting them to make a successful transition into adulthood. The Second Young Adult Court Program is a partnership of key criminal justice stakeholders. Honorable Judge Cindy Leos (with the back-up assistance of Chief Judge Nan Nash) will be the presiding judge with team members from the Second Judicial District Court Pretrial Services, Public Defender’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, law enforcement and community treatment providers.

The YAC is a pre-plea/post-plea court program for individuals from ages 18 to 25, arrested in Bernalillo County, who have legal and social service needs. YAC will provide a comprehensive programming of strength based, trauma informed and evidence supported educational, vocational, and counseling opportunities, in conjunction with court supervision, to engage and empower young adults to reach their full potential. The program will address youth with extensive trauma histories, inadequate support systems and housing, minimal educational and employment histories. Some youth who have substance abuse issues and co-occurring mental health histories will also benefit from the YAC.

This new specialty court will be an addition to the four other specialty court programs in the Second Judicial District Court.             

  • DWI Court
  • Veteran’s Court
  • Mental Health Court
  • Drug Court

The Second Judicial District Court and the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court have implemented a new data-driven  risk assessment tool known as the Public Safety Assessment, or PSA, to provide objective information for judges in determining conditions of release for criminal defendants awaiting trial.

Judges began using the PSA June 12 as part of a multi-year effort to strengthen the criminal justice system in the state’s largest county.

The PSA uses nine factors to produce two risk scores: one measuring the likelihood that an individual will commit a new crime if released pending trial and another evaluating the likelihood that he or she will fail to return for a future court hearing. The tool also flags defendants that present an elevated risk of committing a violent crime. Risk scores fall on a scale of one to six, with higher scores indicating a greater level of risk. The PSA does not require an interview with a defendant and is more up to date than the risk assessment that the courts have been using since 2015.

Even after the PSA has been implemented, judges will retain all of their authority and discretion. They will continue to make decisions on bail issues, including whether to require a bond, release defendants on their own recognizance, or impose certain restrictions.

"Implementing a cutting-edge risk assessment continues our team effort in Bernalillo County to ensure a fair and effective criminal justice system," said Second Judicial District Court Chief Judge Nan Nash. "Judges make difficult decisions each day as they follow the law in setting pretrial release conditions for defendants. The PSA will provide judges with reliable, objective information to consider in those decisions."

"In addition to identifying defendants who pose a threat to the community, the PSA will also help judges safeguard citizens' rights by preventing unfair jailing of defendants who don’t," said Metropolitan Court Chief Judge Edward L. Benavidez.

New Mexicans overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment last year to reform the state’s bail system. Voters reaffirmed the constitutional principle that people awaiting trial who are not dangerous or a flight risk will not be held in jail just because they cannot afford a money bond. Judges were also authorized to hold the most dangerous defendants in jail without bail pending trial, but that can occur only if the State requests the defendant be held and after an evidentiary hearing where the State proves that no release conditions will reasonably protect the safety of any other person or the community. A determination to hold a defendant in jail without bail does not solely rely on a defendant's risk assessment score.

"Our #1 priority is making our community safer. The Public Safety Assessment gives judges an evidence-based tool to help distinguish high-risk, potentially violent defendants from low-risk ones for critical pretrial decisions in the criminal justice system. We can achieve a win-win by increasing public safety while saving taxpayers the high costs of jailing defendants who pose little threat to the community," said Bernalillo County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins.

The PSA initially will be used in felony cases, and will be implemented later for misdemeanor cases.

Created by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) in partnership with leading criminal justice researchers, the PSA was developed using the largest, most diverse set of pretrial records ever assembled—1.5 million cases from approximately 300 jurisdictions across the United States. Researchers analyzed the data and isolated factors that most often exist for defendants who commit a new crime, commit a violent crime, or fail to return to court if released before trial. The factors are:

  • Whether the current offense is violent;
  • Whether the person had a pending charge at the time of the current offense;
  • Whether the person has a prior misdemeanor conviction;
  • Whether the person has a prior felony conviction;
  • Whether the person has prior convictions for violent crimes;
  • The person’s age at the time of arrest;
  • Whether the person failed to appear at a pretrial hearing more than two years ago;
  • How many times the person failed to appear at a pretrial hearing in the last two years; and
  • Whether the person has previously been sentenced to incarceration.

The weight given to these factors and the formula used to calculate the risk scores is available on the LJAF website. It does not use information that is considered potentially discriminatory, such as a person’s ethnic background, income, level of education, employment status, neighborhood, or any demographic or personal information other than age.

The PSA is currently being used, or is in the process of being implemented, in approximately 35 jurisdictions across the country, including statewide in Arizona and several other states, as well as some of the nation’s largest cities. Initial results indicate that the tool is helping to protect public safety while reducing jail populations and freeing up funds for other government priorities. In Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, for example, the jail population dropped nearly 20%, with no increase in crime, in the year after the PSA implementation began in the spring of 2014. In Lucas County, Ohio, the percentage of pretrial defendants released by the court on their own recognizance has nearly doubled, pretrial crime is down, and the percentage of defendants who skipped their court date has been dramatically reduced since the county began using the PSA in January 2015.

LJAF is making the PSA available for free to Bernalillo County as well as the other jurisdictions that are implementing the risk assessment tool.


The Second Judicial District Court commemorated National Mental Health Awareness Month by participating in a special behavioral health event.  Bernalillo County, the City of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Government Commission (ABCGC) jointly hosted the May 23, 2017 event to raise mental health awareness event on Civic Plaza. SJDC Veterans, Mental Health, Drug Court, and Childrens Court staff answered questions from the public and featured the resources that SJDC has available.

“SJDC specialty courts have taken a leadership role in the community and have helped to change lives, save taxpayer dollars and build safer communities,” said Chief Judge Nan Nash.

SJDC Veterans Court provides veterans with the tools needed to lead productive and law-abiding lives through treatment, rehabilitative programing, reinforcement and judicial monitoring. SJDC Mental Health Court focuses on support, accountability and intensive monitoring felony offenders that have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness. SJDC Felony DWI Court operates in a post-conviction model using an intensive supervision, accountability and long-term treatment to reduce recidivism among repeat offenders. SJDC Childrens Drug Court also provides support services and family counseling for children and teens with substance abuse issues. 

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 U.S. adults and 1 in 5 children ages 13-18 will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.


SJDC has made an initiative to host several adoption ceremonies a year given the increased number of children needing homes. The Second Judicial District Children’s Court is raising awareness of the more than 100,000 foster children awaiting permanent loving families by hosting adoption ceremonies.

People gathered at Children’s Court on May 12, 2017 as twenty-two children were adopted prior to celebrating Mother’s Day weekend together as families. A majority of the children spent time in foster care, sometimes in multiple homes and different schools. For these families, the Children’s Court adoption event was life changing.

"This is just basically starting over and forgetting everything bad that has happened before," said one child, Christopher. "I've been waiting for a long time for this to happen, and it just finally happened," added Marcia Englton-Waltz. "My family adores Christopher and we are happy that he is part of our lives."

"Children’s Court opens its doors for children and youth to enter into a parent and child relationship with their 'forever families'," said Presiding Judge John Romero of the Children’s Court.

An adoption is the creation of a legal relationship between a new parent and a child, similar to that of a biological parent and child. Children in foster care who cannot be safely reunified with their biological families are adopted after the parents’ rights are voluntarily or involuntarily terminated. Adoptees who have not been involved in the child protection system are adopted by a step-parent, a relative or other appropriate family carefully selected by birth parents prior to a voluntary adoptive placement.

Adoption festivities included hugs, photographs, stuffed animals, balloons, and an abundance of smiling faces.


The Second Judicial District Court Pro Bono Committee and the Volunteer Attorney Program sponsor four Law-La-Palooza events each year aimed at helping low-income residents with their legal needs.  The Law-La-Palooza events are free of charge and have helped over a thousand individuals get answers to their legal questions.

The second Law-La-Palooza event for 2017 was held on May 11, 2017 at the Cesar Chavez Community Center. Participants were able to speak with an attorney for thirty minutes and if needed were given additional resources to best assist their needs.  Attorneys, judges, court staff, service providers, and law students all volunteered their time and were able to assist 127 individuals at the May 11, 2017 Law-La-Palooza event.  As the issues presented at Law-La-Palooza cover a broad spectrum of legal issues, specialists are sought in family law, criminal law, consumer debt, taxes, immigration, and public assistance benefits.  Volunteers stayed past the event time to assist with the large volume of cases, particularly given the greatest need in family law. 

The next Law-La-Palooza will be on August 24, 2017 at the Raymond Sanchez Community Center (9800 4th St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87114). Participants are asked to bring all relevant documents related to the issue for discussion in order to provide quality legal assistance.  Attorneys and staff who are bilingual in Spanish and American Sign Language will be available.  Services are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.  


The Second Judicial District Court Felony Repeat Offender DWI Court recently held a graduation ceremony to celebrate the successes of its recent graduates. The Second Judicial District’s Felony Repeat Offender DWI Court is an effective and cost-saving alternative to incarceration. The SJDC Felony Repeat Offender DWI Court is a demanding 18 to 24-month program for offenders who have had repeat DWI convictions. The program operates in a post-conviction model and uses intensive supervision, accountability, and long-term treatment. The goal is to protect public safety and reduce recidivism among repeat DWI offenders while providing an alternative to incarceration in addition to offering solution for New Mexico’s unique struggles with felony DWI offenders.

The SJDC program has had thirty graduates since its  inception in March 2013.  “Seventy-five percent of individuals who graduate from this program will not become reoffenders. The four recent graduates from the program have shown personal growth and are ready to start a new chapter in their lives,” said Judge Jacqueline Flores.

During the graduation ceremony, each of the graduates spoke about their personal experience in the program and the message of hope. “I love my life now. My life is so unreal right now,” said one of the graduates. “I feel like if this option was not here, I would have been lost in my addictive behavior,” said another graduate.

The SJDC DWI Court Team utilizes individuals from all criminal justice stakeholders (prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation, law enforcement, and others) along with alcohol or drug treatment professionals.  The SJDC DWI Court Team consists of: Honorable Jacqueline Flores; DWI Program Manager Anthony Rodulfo; DWI Court Pretrial Services Officer Terri Ketner; Dr. Lester Brasher, Albuquerque Behavior Health; Guinevere Ice, Assistant District Attorney; and Leanne Hamilton, Public Defender.

The Felony DWI Court repeat offender program requires therapeutic treatment, regular court appearances, drug testing, regular office check-ins with the program manager or pretrial services officer. The treatment component of the program is comprehensive and is designed to develop self-awareness, realize self-worth, and practice self-discipline. The individual and group counseling sessions will include problem identification and alternative solutions.

As of June 2015, the National Drug Court Resource Center reports there are 1,561 Adult Drug Courts operating in the United States, 431 of which are Hybrid DWI/Drug Courts. There are eight DWI Courts operating in New Mexico with the Second Judicial District Court having the only felony DWI Court Program in New Mexico.


In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower recognized the nation’s commitment to the rule of law by establishing the first Law Day. Congress issued a joint resolution in 1961 officially designating May 1 as the official Law Day and its contributions to the freedoms enjoyed by all Americans. Every President since then has issued an annual Law Day Proclamation.

Celebrating Law Day provides citizens an opportunity to learn about the legal system and how justice is achieved. Law Day is sponsored every year by the American Bar Association to highlight the role of courts in American democracy. To honor the approaching 150th anniversary of the Fourteenth Amendment, this year’s theme is: “The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy.” The 2017 theme explores the many ways that the Fourteenth Amendment has reshaped American law and society. Through its Citizenship, Due Process and Equal Protection clauses, the 14th Amendment advanced the rights of all Americans. It also played a pivotal role in extending the reach of the Bill of Rights to the states. Ratified during Reconstruction a century and a half ago, the Fourteenth Amendment serves as the cornerstone of landmark civil rights legislation and the foundation for numerous decisions protecting fundamental rights and equal justice under the law.

“The Second Judicial District Court is celebrating Law Day and this year’s theme, “The Fourteenth Amendment: Transforming American Democracy,” as we work together to advance the constitutional values that define American democracy and our jurisprudence,” said Chief Judge Nash. 

The Children’s Court has celebrated law day activities for five years.  “It is very rewarding to be part of the Law Day celebration, especially encouraging our youth to believe in themselves and recognize their true potential,” said Children’s Court Presiding Judge John Romero.  The New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association, Roybal-Mack & Cordova P.C. and several community businesses joined in sponsoring Law Day at Children’s Court. Participating youth engaged in multiple events and activities at the Juvenile Justice Center.

 


The annual Peter H. Johnstone Day is a public service where couples can receive settlement facilitation assistance in pending divorces, child custody cases, dividing property or resolving other legal conflicts involving family issues.  Both parties in a case get up to three hours of legal advice with one or two experienced attorneys or mental health professionals to discuss their case.  If they are able to reach agreements, the documents are immediately drafted for review and filing with the court.

Fifty-four attorneys recently volunteered their time and services to serve as “pro bono” attorneys free of charge.  In order to be eligible for the program, neither party can be represented by an attorney.  This year the program handled 63 cases.  Of those cases, 65% reached a full settlement and 11% were partially settled providing an overall settlement rate of 76%.

“This program is a wonderful opportunity for family law attorneys to work with one another in assisting parties who are unable to afford legal representation.  The parties benefit from the attorneys’ expertise in providing creative and comprehensive resolution of all issues pending before the Court.  The Court greatly appreciates their efforts in bringing closure to cases in a more timely and less divisive manner,” said Judge Deborah David Walker, Presiding Judge for Family Court. 

The event is named for the late Peter H. Johnstone, a family law attorney in Albuquerque who was known for advocating for the best interests of children in custody cases.  He died in 2013.


Chief Judge Nash has been named one of the 2017 recipients of the Justice Mary Walters Award, presented annually by the University Of New Mexico School Of Law Women’s Law Caucus.

Each year, the Women’s Law Caucus chooses outstanding women in the New Mexico legal community to honor in the name of former Justice Mary Walters, who was the first woman appointed to the New Mexico Supreme Court.  Chief Judge Nash represents the trailblazing spirit and many of the qualities exemplified by Justice Mary Walters: respect for the law, a calm judicial demeanor, an intellectual curiosity, civility, and integrity.

Nan G. Nash was appointed to the New Mexico Second Judicial District Court Bench Division XVII in January 2003.  Judge Nash served as presiding judge of the SJDC Family court from December 2004 through September 2007.  She joined the Civil Division in September 2007.  Judge Nash was elected as Chief Judge of the SJDC in April 2014.

Prior to joining the bench, Judge Nash served as a Special Commissioner of Domestic Violence and a Child Support Hearing Officer for the Second Judicial District Court.  She has served on numerous task forces and committees addressing family violence and family issues including chairing the Supreme Court Domestic Relations Task Force.  Judge Nash began her career with the Second Judicial District Court as the director of Court Alternatives. She remains active in the alternative dispute resolution community.  She taught ADR related courses as an adjunct professor at the University Of New Mexico School Of Law since 1994 most recently teaching Family Mediation Training from 1999 through 2015.

Judge Nash currently serves as Chair of the Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission and recently completed an eight year term on the New Mexico Judicial Standards Commission. Her work as chief judge has focused on criminal pretrial reform, the elder and disability initiative and the fiscal and administrative management of the court. Judge Nash is a graduate of Indiana University School of Law and practiced with the firm of Civerelo, Gralow & Hill, P.A. before joining the Court.


Alma Lerma, a paralegal with the Second Judicial Center for Self Help and Dispute Resolution, recently received an award at the 2nd Annual Awards Luncheon for the Volunteer Attorney Program sponsored by New Mexico Legal Aid.  Ms. Lerma received the Non-Attorney Volunteer Award for 2016.

“We are so proud to see Alma recognized for her ongoing commitment to the pro se community. Her empathy and respect for others are unparalleled as she continues her service to the judiciary and to the public,” said Torri Jacobus, Director of Center for Self Help and Dispute Resolution for the Second Judicial District Court. 

Alma has been with the Second Judicial District Court since 2002.  Ms. Lerma earned her Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies and is certified as a Language Access Specialist.  Ms. Lerma assists Spanish speaking customers who utilize services from both the Civil Law Clinic and the Family Law Clinic.  She was commended for her patience and continually going beyond the call of duty to assist someone with understanding the protocols and the next actions required to move a case forward.  Alma’s acceptance of her award touched everyone as she included all volunteers as part of what it takes to get the job done.


A new art collection proudly featuring work by youth artists has become an integral part of the Second Judicial District Court Children’s Court.  The SJDC Children’s Court Second Floor Hallway is now the permanent home to the “The Botanical Studies Project”. The project is a collaboration between youth artists at the Youth Services Center and Bernalillo County Public Art Project Coordinator Nan Masland.

“The youth art displayed at the Children’s Court serves to enrich the community, offers children hope and helps to provide an engaging and friendly environment,” said John Romero, Presiding Judge of Children’s Court. 

Drawing inspiration from Georgia O’Keefe, the youth studied images of local flora and translated them into “larger-than-life” portraits of flowers and plants.  Using tissue paper and glue, the artists added layers of color to create the images.  The final works were on display for a few months in an exhibit hosted by Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins at One Civic Plaza on the Tenth floor in the Bernalillo County Manager’s Suite. 

The youth artists donated their work to the Betty Sabo Inventory. The artwork in the inventory is funded by methods other than the 1% for the Arts.  Pieces in the inventory may be located in semi-public locations such as governmental offices, clinic waiting rooms, and courtrooms. 

Participating artists include:
Ali
Jolene
Erlynda
Alexis
Angelica
Enrique
India
Skye
Isaiah
Ivan
Noah
Chris


Zeus, the Second Judicial District Court Veterans Court Canine Ambassador, has been selected for the 2017 John Henry Award by the Behavioral Health Planning Council of New Mexico. The John Henry Award honors an exceptional animal who, on a daily basis and over the course of his/her lifetime, has demonstrated loyalty, dedication and love to clients and their family members. The Behavioral Health Planning Council of New Mexico honored Zeus as the 2017 John Henry Award recipient because Zeus has made a significant impact on behavioral health, one person at a time.

"Our Court is proud of Zeus' committed service to our Veterans Court Program and his extraordinary and meaningful impact on the daily lives of veterans," said Judge Christina Argyres, one of the presiding judges of the SJDC Veterans Court Program. Ginger Varcoe of SJDC Pretrial Services facilitates interaction between Zeus and SJDC Veterans Court participants during court hearings. Zeus, a three year old Labradoodle, is a graduate of the Assistance Dogs of the West that is certified by Assistance Dogs International. Zeus is also part of the Warrior Canine Connection effort that teaches warriors with combat injuries how to train service dogs for other veterans with disabilities.

"Zeus has brought incredible joy to our Veterans Court and has provided tremendous support to our veteran participants," said Judge Stan Whitaker, another presiding judge of the SJDC Veterans Court. Zeus will be honored at the Star Award Ceremony on February 14, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. at The Lodge at Santa Fe. The ceremony will feature innovative programs sharing their successes, experiences and what recovery means to them. Zeus will also be formally recognized at the Behavioral Health Day at the New Mexico Legislature, February 15, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the State Capitol’s Rotunda.

"Zeus is a cherished member of the Second Judicial District Court family, helping veterans re- integrate in the community," said James Noel, Court Executive Officer of the Second Judicial District Court.


Judges of the Second Judicial District Court convened in a special session Friday (February 3, 2017) for the formal investiture of their newest colleague, District Judge Jane C. Levy. Judge Jane Levy became the 109th judge appointed to the Second Judicial District Court.

Held at the Bernalillo County Courthouse in Albuquerque, the investiture ceremony drew a full crowd that included Judge Levy’s family, friends, and many colleagues. New Mexico Court of Appeals Judge Michael Vigil administered the oath of office to Judge Levy. Speakers included Second Judicial District Court (SJDC) Chief Judge Nan Nash; Robert Levy, Judge Levy’s father and an attorney who has practiced law before the Court; retired Second Judicial District Judge Susan Conway, Judge Levy’s mother, who served on the bench for eighteen years; and Judge Deborah Davis Walker, SJDC Presiding Judge of Family Court.

"We are honored to have Judge Levy join the bench; she possesses many of the important attributes of an excellent judge: intelligence, character, and humor, and provides hope for the future," said Chief Judge Nan Nash.

Judge Levy is the first female judge to be robed by her mother, Judge Susan Conway (retired), who served as the 45 th judge of the Second Judicial District Court. At the time Judge Conway joined the SJDC bench in 1985, there were two women on the Court’s bench. Today, the majority of SJDC judges are women. “Judge Levy is committed to family court and helping the children and parents of New Mexico,” said Presiding Judge Deborah Davis Walker of the SJDC Family Court.

Judge Levy’s parents beamed with pride in speaking of her accomplishments. “Jane will do a spectacular job as a judge in SJDC family court given her fairness, compassion, and her understanding the needs of children,” said Honorable Susan Conway. Robert Levy is honored that his daughter has joined the bench and is confident that she will leave her own indelible mark on the bench. “She will keep her feet on the ground as she follows in her mother’s footsteps,” said Robert Levy.

Judge Levy thanked the Governor, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and her fellow judges remarking that she was thrilled to be part of the judiciary. Judge Levy concluded her remarks by thanking her parents, her husband, Scott, and the couple’s two children, Oliver and Sydney, for their support.

Judge Levy will begin her first term on the Second Judicial District Court. Judge Levy has practiced law for more than ten years, with a focus on advocating for New Mexico families. In addition to her legal experience, Judge Levy has spent time volunteering for organizations that help domestic abuse victims and the homeless. Judge Levy holds a Juris Doctorate from Lewis and Clark Law School, a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Lewis and Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling in Portland, Oregon, and a Bachelor’s Degree from Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin.


The Second Judicial District Court proudly welcomes two new judges to the Court in January 2017.  Judge Cindy Leos is from Albuquerque, New Mexico and attended Moriarty High School.  She received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado, and earned her Juris Doctorate from Chicago-Kent College of Law in Chicago, Illinois.  Her professional experience includes working in private practice, as a Children’s Court attorney for Child Protective Services, and as a Felony Attorney/Supervisor for the New Mexico Office of the Public defender.  Judge Leos was elected in the general election on November 8, 2016 to Division IX of the Second Judicial District Court.

On November 29, 2016, Governor Susana Martinez appointed Jane Levy of Albuquerque to Division XXV of the Second Judicial District Court, filling the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Elizabeth Whitefield.  Judge Levy has practiced law for more than ten years, with a focus on advocating for New Mexico families.  In addition to her legal experience, Judge Levy has spent time volunteering for organizations that help domestic abuse victims and the homeless.  Judge Levy holds a Juris Doctorate from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon and a Bachelor’s Degree from Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin.

"Both Cindy Leos and Jane Levy have vast legal experience, a fair and balanced temperament that is required as a district court judge and we look forward to working with both of them," said Chief Judge Nan Nash.


The Second Judicial District Court hosted a Giving Tree Project for local organizations in need this holiday season.  SJDC partnered with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), New Mexico Veterans Integration Center, and Animal Humane New Mexico in this Giving Tree Project.  Children's Court has an established relationship with CASA and has had a giving tree for several years.  SJDC staff demonstrated remarkable dedication to community service.  SJDC giving trees were located on the fourth floor of the Bernalillo County Courthouse and at the Juvenile Justice Center during the month of December.

"This project seeks to bring a little extra joy to children and veterans during this season of giving.  It also recognizes the importance of companion animals and seeks to provide comfort to those that were abandoned or lost," said James Noel, Court Executive Officer.  SJDC court staff overwhelmingly came together in this court wide project aimed at supporting the community.  The value of private donations by SJDC staff, friends, and other generous community partners donors is estimated to be over $5000.  SJDC staff contributed several wish list items, ranging from toys, winter clothing items, professional attire, shoes and companion animal needs.

"The outpouring of community support from SJDC staff has been tremendous," said Chief Judge Nan Nash, "and I want to thank our staff for making the holiday wishes of our community become a reality and making a meaningful difference for these service organizations."


Employees at the Second Judicial District Court recently completed another successful blood drive, donating 25 units through United Blood Services.

The blood drives have been organized at the Courthouse over the past four years under the leadership of procurement specialist Darrell Evans. “Darrell is the reason I donated blood,” said Roxyanne Janet, bailiff for District Judge Jacqueline Flores. “He does a great job of getting people out of their seats and motivating us to make a difference.”

There is always a demand for donated blood, which is distributed to hospitals in the Albuquerque area, across New Mexico and even out of state if needed. The Court’s partnership with United Blood Services goes back 20 years.

Every three to four months, many Court employees step forward to help, and participants are eligible for a raffle where movie tickets or restaurant gift certificates are awarded.

Court administrators encourage all of our employees and anyone else to sign up to become a donor. The next blood drive at the Courthouse is scheduled for January 10.


To help young people learn about career opportunities in the Judiciary, representatives from the Second Judicial District Court’s Human Resources Division attended a career fair at La Cueva High School.

Eric Mitchell and Janet Van Why encountered many students who were interested in learning more.

Students at the career fair visited booths set up by an array of employers, who told the young people about required education, typical compensation, work schedule and career possibilities.

"We have found that many high school and college students are unaware of careers within the Judiciary, and we have also experienced difficulty in recruiting individuals who are interested in a profession within the courts," said James A. Noel, Court Executive Officer.  "So we are taking affirmative steps to publicize career opportunities within the New Mexico Judiciary for individuals who are looking for a solid career path serving the public."

The Second Judicial District Court is a great place for students, offering career opportunities from management to legal services.

Internships and Externships are available for high school, college and law school students.  Education program credits may be available.

Previously, SJDC has worked with students from the University of New Mexico’s School of Law, Brown Mackie College in Albuquerque and other high school and college programs.

Students are exposed to various departments, including the civil, criminal, family and children’s courts, as well as the special services, domestic violence, domestic relations, self-help and jury divisions.

Training in security and confidentiality is provided. Minors must have parental permission.  If you are interested in these unique opportunities, please contact the Human Resources Division at (505) 841-7432.


There were Teddy Bears, stuffed frogs, kittens and even a tiny dinosaur, all part of a special delivery when New Mexico Highlands University students visited the Juvenile Justice Center.


The Teddy Bear Project was organized by NMHU social work students in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho. Students collected gently used stuffed animals and cleaned them before delivery to the children.

The toys will go to children who are facing difficult situations at Children’s Court, such as out-of-home foster care placement or perhaps testimony about an adult relative in an abuse or neglect case.


"The stuffed animals are a great stress relief tool for children who, through no fault of their own, are placed in difficult circumstances,” said Judge John J. Romero Jr., presiding judge of the Children’s Court. “On behalf of all of our judges and staff, we are very grateful to the Highlands students who donate their time to collect toys that become a source of comfort for many children.”


This is the second straight year the NMHU students have brought in the donated items. The idea came to graduate student Natalie Nicotine when she was a CYFD intern and saw the therapeutic impact of stuffed animals.


“The Courtroom is a very unfamiliar place for a child, and having a stuffed animal available can make a tough situation a little bit easier to handle,” she said. “Having a little friend in their hands can help the children begin to relax and feel more comfortable.”


The Second Judicial District Court recently commemorated Mediation Week, an initiative created by the American Bar Association (ABA) and proclaimed by the New Mexico Supreme Court.  SJDC Mediation Week celebrated the strides SJDC has made in valuing mediation as one of several dispute resolution processes.

“The Second Judicial District Court mediation programs highlight the Court’s commitment to alternative dispute resolution services that are available to Bernalillo County citizens, families and businesses,” said James Noel, Court Executive Officer.

Mediation is a dispute resolution process where a neutral third party facilitates communication between parties to help them reach a voluntary and mutually acceptable agreement.  Mediation offers many benefits to litigants, the courts and the public, including increased satisfaction with the dispute resolution process and outcome, reduced court cost and caseloads and improved community relationships.

The Second Judicial District Court provides mediation to assist litigants in resolving a broad array of disputes that include civil, family, juvenile and criminal matters.  SJDC alternative dispute resolution programs have the goal of early, fair, efficient, cost-effective and informal resolution of disputes.

The Center for Self-Help provided services to 15,417 self-represented litigants in Fiscal Year 2016.  The Pro Bono Committee added a monthly Family Law clinic, serving 189 litigants, while the monthly Civil Law Clinic served 311 litigants and the quarterly Law-la-palooza events served 517 litigants.  The Court also sponsors Peter H. Johnstone Day, where attorneys and mental health professionals provide free assistance to pre-screened couples to help with divorce, child custody and other family legal issues.

Both the SJDC Civil Division and the Family Court provide settlement facilitation services, where facilitators help parties resolve disputes outside the courtroom. The SJDC Court Clinic offers mediation to resolve child visitation and child custody time-sharing issues.  Mediation in SJDC Children’s Court targets abuse and neglect cases.  The SJDC Criminal Division offers mediation that is limited to specific cases.  The SJDC Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Settlement Program brings homeowners and lenders together with a settlement facilitator to seek alternatives to residential foreclosure which are agreeable to both.


The Honorable Elizabeth Whitefield, the Presiding Judge of the Second Judicial District Family Court, has announced her retirement from the bench, effective October 1.  Judge Whitefield will serve as a Pro Tem judge to assist with the Family Court’s caseload until a successor is named.  She was appointed to the bench in 2007 after more than thirty years as a family law attorney.

“On behalf of all of our judges and staff, we congratulate Judge Whitefield on her outstanding legal career and wish her the best in retirement,” Chief Judge Nan Nash said. “Judge Whitefield is revered for her contributions to the legal community in Albuquerque. Our Courthouse will not be the same without her.”

Among Judge Whitefield’s many contributions to the Court was the start-up of Peter H. Johnstone Day, where attorneys and mental health professionals provide free assistance to pre-screened couples who need help resolving divorce, child custody or other family legal issues.  Judge Whitefield was recognized by the University of New Mexico School of Law as a 2015 Distinguished Achievement Award recipient for her outstanding contributions as an attorney and judge as well as for her years of community service.

Family Court handles divorces, legal separations, custody and time-sharing matters, division of property and debts in divorce cases, spousal support, child support, Uniform Parentage Act cases for unmarried parents, domestic violence cases, kinship-guardianship of children cases and adult adoptions.  Applications to fill the vacancy are due to the Judicial Nominating Commission by October 20.  Commission members will meet October 31 to begin the nomination process.  Members review applications and forward recommendations to the Governor, who then has thirty days to make an appointment.


A new courtroom has opened at the Second Judicial District Court, expanding the space available for Family Court proceedings.

“Bernalillo County’s funding of the new courtroom is vital to the Second Judicial District Court’s Family Court because it enables them to continue doing what they do best: resolving matters involving families and children in a fair, equitable and accessible forum,” said Chief Judge Nan Nash.
 
Previously, SJDC Family Court judges shared space in three courtrooms on the second floor.  While the new courtroom is available as needed for any proceeding, it will be utilized primarily by Family Court District Judge Debra Ramirez, who  is assigned to the domestic violence seat. The Family Court Division also uses hearing rooms for divorce, child custody and child abuse cases.
 
Bernalillo County, as landlord of the Courthouse, graciously provided funding and personnel to complete the work, which was sorely needed to meet complex caseloads in Family Court. The Court is very grateful to County Manager Julie Morgas Baca and staff from the Bernalillo County Facilities Management Department for their efforts to complete the work.
 
Contractors on the project included Anchorbuilt, OGB, P&M Caseworks, Floor Tech, Harrison Contracting, Simplex Grinnell, Miller’s Insulation, Sound and Signal, Studio Southwest Architects, TLC Plumbing and Heating, Glass on Wheels, Wilson and Co.,  Sandia Safe and Lock and Security & Access. Vendors included Pat’s Doors and Summit Electric Supply.

Judge Ramirez Courtroom

 


The Second Judicial District Court has instituted a new Foreclosure Settlement Program to provide settlement assistance in residential mortgage cases.  The program brings  homeowners and lenders together with a settlement facilitator to seek alternatives to residential foreclosures which are agreeable to both.

"The Foreclosure Settlement Program facilitators help Bernalillo County homeowners and lenders communicate in a meaningful way to resolve foreclosure cases,” said Chief Judge Nan Nash.  “One possible outcome is a loan modification that would allow a homeowner facing foreclosure to remain in their home."

During the settlement facilitation process, a settlement facilitator helps both sides explore options that are aimed at mitigating losses.

The SJDC mediators are licensed attorneys on contract with the Court. The program has the potential to decrease the number of defaults resulting in foreclosure, increase the likelihood that mortgage terms can be renegotiated and facilitate short sales, deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure or other alternatives for homeowners who are unable to keep their homes.

The Court encourages Bernalillo County homeowners and lenders in pending foreclosure cases to learn more about the Foreclosure Settlement Program by calling Program Specialist Christopher Peck at (505) 841-7568.

 


The Second Judicial District Court is a great place for students to learn more about the Judicial system and the many career opportunities from management to legal services that are available.

Internships and Externships are available to high school, college and law school students. Education program credits may be available.

“It’s a great way for the Court to introduce students to the workings of the Judiciary and to promote careers in the legal and criminal justice professions,” said District Judge Alan Malott, who helped initiate an internship last spring for a student from Atrisco Heritage Academy High School.

Starting in August, Kristina Escamilla from Brown Mackie College in Albuquerque is participating in a 60-hour extern program with the criminal division. Students from the University of New Mexico’s School of Law and other law schools also serve as clerks to many of the Court’s 27 judges.

The programs expose students to various departments, including the civil, criminal, family and children’s courts, as well as the special services, domestic violence, domestic relations, self-help and jury divisions.

Training in security and confidentiality is provided. Minors must have parental permission. If you are interested in these unique opportunities, please contact the Human Resources Division at (505) 841-7432.


Presiding Judge Charles Brown and the Criminal Division of the Second Judicial District Court were recently recognized with the 2016 Public Partnership Award by the Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments.  Joy Willis, Attorney Supervisor, and employees from the Pre-Trial Services Division were also honored for the Court’s role as a key member of the Bernalillo County Criminal Justice Review Commission.

“Please join me in congratulating Judge Charlie Brown and all of the judges and staff of the Criminal Division,” Chief Judge Nan Nash said. “This award recognizes our Court’s role in working with other justice partners in Bernalillo County to address and improve the criminal justice system.” 

The award was given to all partner agencies in the Albuquerque-area criminal justice system, including Metropolitan Court, the District Attorney, Public Defender, Metropolitan Detention Center, Albuquerque Police Department, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, Administrative Office of the Courts and the Probation and Parole Office.

The Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments praised the groups for working together to streamline the criminal justice case processing system and reducing the length of time needed to resolve criminal cases.

“This resulted in a 45 percent reduction of the jail population, resulting in a safer environment for jail staff and inmates,” the Council noted. “The Commission’s work has also saved Bernalillo County taxpayers tens of millions of dollars over the past two years, all without reducing sentences, releasing inmates or being soft on crime.”


U.S. Justice Department officials recently visited the Second Judicial District Court to get an up-close look at the SJDC Felony DWI Court and the critical role it plays as an accountability court dedicated to changing the behavior of repeat DWI offenders. The SJDC Felony DWI Court is a demanding 18- to 24-month program for offenders who have had repeat DWI convictions that operates in a post-conviction model and uses intensive supervision, accountability, and long-term treatment. The goal is to protect public safety and reduce recidivism among repeat DWIoffenders while providing an alternative to incarceration.

Last fall, the U.S. Justice Department awarded a $279,919 grant to expand SJDC Felony DWI Court operations, which enabled SJDC to double the number of clients served from 30 to 60 individuals.

Representatives from the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance met with Chief Judge Nan Nash, District Judge Jacqueline D. Flores, Anthony Rodulfo, program manager, court administrators and other staff. The DOJ officials also attended a graduation ceremony to see first-hand how defendants can improve themselves through the program. The program’s first female graduate was among those honored.

“We are very pleased that our partners at the U.S. Department of Justice were able to see how their support is making a positive difference in our community,” Judge Flores said. Early studies of DWI Courts across the country have shown successful results and a significant reduction in recidivism.


Four judges at the Second Judicial District Court and three retired Pro Tem judges were recognized for their military service in the July edition of Albuquerque the Magazine.

The magazine features articles on local veterans and a photo montage of Albuquerque public figures who served in the armed forces. The District Court  judges who are featured include Judge Beatrice J. Brickhouse, a First Lieutenant in the Army from 1984-87; Judge Charles W. Brown, a Private in the Marine Corps from 1969-70; Judge John J. Romero Jr., a Lieutenant Junior Grade in the Navy from 1970-74; and Judge David N. Williams, a First Lieutenant in the Army from 1968-70 who also served in the Army Reserve from 1971-2005, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.

The Pro Tem judges who appeared in the edition are Judge Neil Candelaria, who served as an E4 for three years in the Army; Judge Marc Macaron, a captain who served six years in the Army National Guard and Army Reserves; and Judge Michael Martinez, who served in the Air National Guard from 1969-90 and reached the rank of Major.

The Second Judicial District recognizes and thanks our armed forces veterans who are continuing to serve Bernalillo County on the District Court bench.


Construction has been completed on the reconfigured entrance to the Bernalillo County Courthouse, which now features two security screening stations as part of an effort to streamline access for visitors, attorneys and employees.

A general entrance for all visitors is open during the regular business hours of8 a.m. to 5 p.m., while a second security entrance is now available for attorneys and Court employees from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. daily.  Deputies from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office now utilize two operational screening stations to enhance Courthouse security.  Previously, all visitors were directed to a single security screening line.

The work began during the last week of February with minor construction continuing in stages to minimize potential disruptions.  The additional security improvements were installed without any delay to Courthouse access or operations.

The improvements will make it easier for visitors to enter the Courthouse, especially during the peak periods early in the morning and after lunch.


The Second Judicial District Court was well represented when Assistance Dogs of the West held its recent graduation ceremony.

The Santa Fe-based organization trains service dogs. That includes the service dogs that are part of the Veteran’s Court program, where military veterans who are facing criminal charges can help train dogs that in turn are sent to assist wounded veterans in other parts of the country.

Two veterans who successfully completed the program this year also participated in ADW’s graduation ceremony along with their dogs. They were Norm Landry and his dog, Yahtzee, and Luis Sandoval and his dog, Hamlet.

Also graduating were Ginger Varcoe, a program supervisor for the Veteran’s Court, and Zeus, her two-year-old Labradoodle.

Participants in the Veteran’s Court dog training program must enter a plea to a felony charge. Candidates are screened for eligibility on a case-by-case basis. Those accused of violent crimes, sexual offenses, crimes against children and other conditions are ineligible.

District Judges Christina Argyres and Stan Whitaker adjudicate the cases in Veteran’s Court.

Congratulations to our program participants and their graduating dogs!


The Honorable John J. Romero Jr., presiding judge of the Second Judicial District Children’s Court, participated in a plenary panel discussion on child sex trafficking and juvenile justice issues at the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges conference.

Judge Romero, joined by three other panelists from national organizations, discussed a variety of issues, including the potential that sexually exploited children are perceived as delinquents, rather than as victims, if they are moved into the juvenile justice system.

Many juvenile justice advocates argue that young people in that unfortunate situation should have access to counseling and other specialized services instead of facing juvenile proceedings.

During another session of the March conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, Judge Romero was joined by Cynthia Salazar, Director of Special Programs at Children’s Court, for a discussion on the distinct pathways for girls into the juvenile justice system.

Salazar provided conference attendees with an overview of the Program for Empowerment of Girls (PEG), a coordinated, multi-agency approach that redirects troubled girls in Bernalillo County.  PEG has won praise for helping young women break from cycles of violence, trauma and addiction.

"PEG introduces young women to important life skills through confidence-building challenges," Ms. Salazar said.  "They get a safe structure where they can learn how to be accountable for their choices and take ownership of their lives."


The Second Judicial District Court has expanded its recycling program to include aluminum and plastic.

For many years the Court has recycled its waste paper through a private shredding program, but was unable to recycle plastic or aluminum through either the county or the city.

The Court employs over three hundred staff members and has twenty-seven judges with their judicial staff.  In addition, the Court hosts anywhere from 200 to 400 jurors on a weekly basis.

As a result, a significant volume of recyclable materials is generated on a daily basis.  For example, in FY2015 jurors discarded 39,920 plastic water bottles and 22,296 aluminum cans; in FY2016 that number has increased to 54,440 plastic water bottles and 29,424 aluminum cans.  The Court's recycling program will significantly reduce the volume of Courthouse waste directed to the Bernalillo County landfill.

"The volume of plastic and aluminum generated in this Court that ended up in the Bernalillo County landfill was staggering, and so we started looking into ways to re-direct this material from the landfill," said Court Executive Officer James Noel.  "A number of our judges and staff had been hauling their recyclable materials home to include in their household recycling because they couldn't stand throwing aluminum and plastic in the Court's trash bins.  We are very pleased that our paper recycler, Master Fibers, Inc., has agreed to expand its mission with the Court to include plastic and aluminum."


On Friday, August 19, the Second Judicial District Court will hold a briefing for news media representatives who are planning to cover the upcoming trial of two Albuquerque police officers.

The invitation is open to anyone who will be reporting on the proceedings, including traditional news media and non-traditional journalists such as bloggers.

District Judge Alisa Hadfield has issued a Standing Decorum Order in State v. Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez (D-202-CR-2015-00104 and D-202-CR-2015-00105). Jury selection begins September 12 and the trial is scheduled from September 19 to October 4.

Court Administration will review parameters for news coverage of the proceedings. Court Administration is also interested in hearing concerns from members of the press so we can ensure that coverage needs are met.

The meeting will start at 11 a.m. in the third floor conference room at the Bernalillo County Courthouse. Please confirm your attendance in advance by notifying Court Administration at (505) 841-7427.


The numbers are in and 2015 was a great year for the Second Judicial District Court’s legal clinics.

With help from 371 private attorneys who volunteered their time and services, the Court hosted clinics for free legal services to 878 people through the monthly Civil Legal Clinic, the monthly Family Law Clinic and the quarterly Law-La-Palooza event.

"This is a very important public service that is hosted by the Court and provided by private attorneys who step forward to help," said District Judge C. Shannon Bacon, presiding judge of the Civil Division.  "Most of the people use pro bono services because they simply cannot afford an attorney."

An analysis showed 78.8 percent of those who visited the Court clinics in 2015 had an income level that placed them below the federal poverty line.  Also of note, the number of participating attorneys increased by 91 percent from 194 in 2014.

Most of those who attended were able to resolve issues involving child custody and visitation or child support.  Other frequently seen matters included divorces, disputes between landlords and tenants or families resolving wills and probate issues.

The free Civil Legal Clinic is held in the third-floor conference room at the Courthouse from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month.  Cases are seen on a first-come, first-served basis, and attendance is limited to the first 25 people who qualify for low-income assistance.

The free Family Law Clinic is held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month.  For this event, early registration is required.  For both clinics, interested parties should bring all paperwork related to the case for the pro bono attorney to review.

For more information or to register, please call 1-877-266-9861.


Young people who are participating in programs at the Bernalillo County Juvenile Justice Center learned about the historic Miranda ruling as part of the Second Judicial District Court’s observation of Law Day 2016.

The youth also took part in an art contest and heard from UFC competitor John "The Magician" Dodson, poet Hakim Bellamy and University of New Mexico Law School student Adam Oakey.  This was the fourth year of Law Day activities at the Children’s Court.

This year, our nation marked the 50th anniversary of Miranda v. State of Arizona, where the U.S. Supreme Court established that a person in the custody of law enforcement must be advised of the right to consult with legal counsel before and during questioning.

The Miranda warning is familiar to most Americans from police television dramas.  It begins with, "You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."

Law Day is sponsored every year by the American Bar Association to highlight the role of courts in the American democracy and to promote careers in the legal profession.  Locally, the event is cosponsored by the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association and organized by Albuquerque attorney Antonia Roybal-Mack.


The Bernalillo County Courthouse is undergoing heating and cooling system improvements, an effort that is expected to reduce electricity usage by up to 30 percent annually and save taxpayers more than $1 million over the next seven years by reducing utility costs and annual system maintenance costs.

"The cost of conventional electricity production continues to rise, and as it does, investment in energy efficiency not only becomes more feasible and cost effective but a necessity as government budgets shrink," said James Noel, Court Executive Officer. "We appreciate Bernalillo County's commitment to the taxpayer and the environment."

Using the new system controls, technicians will be able to monitor heating and cooling throughout the building from remote locations and provide comfortable temperatures for building occupants.

Companies involved in the project include CATCO Solutions, ICIS Controls and N-Demand. Bernalillo County Facility Management personnel are providing specialized labor support and project management.


Help is coming for low-income residents of Bernalillo County who need advice on civil legal issues.

The Second Judicial District Court is among the sponsors of Law-La-Palooza, scheduled for Thursday, May 19, at the Wells Park Community Center located at 500 Mountain Road NW.

For three hours starting at 3 p.m., more than 40 Albuquerque attorneys will be offering free legal advice.

Participants can speak with a lawyer for about 30 minutes and may be referred to other legal resources or assistance.  The event, which is held every three months, is aimed at helping low-income residents.

Anyone who hopes to take advantage of these legal services should bring all of the relevant documents and background paperwork related to the issue to be discussed.  To provide the highest levels of service, the attorneys will need full details.

The range of civil topics that are typically addressed at Law-La-Palooza include divorce, creditor/debtor matters, power of attorney, custody or guardianship, child support, public benefits, unemployment, landlord/tenant disputes, bankruptcy, immigration and wills and probate issues.

Attorneys and staff members who are bilingual in Spanish will be available. Services are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.  Unfortunately, criminal matters cannot be addressed.


The judges and administration of the Second Judicial District Court wish to offer a special message for anyone living in Bernalillo County who has responded to a jury summons over the past year.

Thank you!

The American Bar Association is marking Juror Appreciation Week from May 2 to 6.  Did you know that 95 percent of all jury trials in the world take place in the United States?  Jury service is a fundamental civic duty that forms the cornerstone of the judicial system in America.

"We need help from everyday citizens to be able to complete our work in the Courthouse," Chief Judge Nan Nash said.  "Every American has the right to a trial by jury, and anyone who has responded to a jury summons is helping to ensure that our important Constitutional freedoms are protected.  On behalf of all of our 27 judges, the Second Judicial District Court is grateful to all those who have served on a jury in Bernalillo County this past year."

If you receive a jury summons, please do your part.  Fill out the form by providing the requested information and send it back to the Court, then be ready to come to the Courthouse when you are called to jury service.  Most of the people who serve report afterward that it was an interesting experience and they were proud to fulfill their civic duty.

"We want every juror to know how much we value their commitment to our system of justice, and we also want to thank all the employers who support their workers when they are called to jury service," Nash said.


With an aging population in New Mexico approaching or already living in the retirement years, the Second Judicial District Court is undertaking a proactive effort to serve residents in adult guardianship cases.

The Court this year doubled the staff dedicated to the Elderly and Disability Initiative.  In most instances, such cases involve a guardian who is appointed to make important decisions on behalf of an elderly person, usually a relative.  The arrangement often involves incapacity or disability.

The Court’s efforts include updating and modernizing files and organizing outreach meetings in Bernalillo County to inform residents about potential age-related legal issues and to publicize available resources.

"Our goal is to inform members of the public about resources that can help them navigate the legal system in guardianship cases," said District Judge C. Shannon Bacon, the presiding judge of the Court’s civil division.

According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, 21.7 percent of New Mexico residents in 2012 were over the age of 60.  By 2020, the figure is expected to grow to 27.6 percent and by 2030 it will be 32.5 percent.

"We are likely to see more and more of these cases in coming years," Judge Bacon said.  "The Court needs to be thinking ahead."


The Second Judicial District Court recently celebrated an important milestone when the Family Reunification Drug Court graduated its first successful couple.

July and Dillon spent ten months in the program, which seeks to guide and support parents who have a substance abuse problem and are named in an abuse or neglect case in Children’s Court.

After Children’s Court Judge William Parnall signed the paperwork to declare their case closed, July and Dillon were joined by family and friends in a courtroom celebration that was highlighted by hugs and kisses as well as pizza and cake.

The mission of the Family Reunification Drug Court is to support the permanence, safety and well-being of children by promoting a stable home through a partnership of judicially managed and community-based services.

As a condition of acceptance, participants must be motivated to succeed and willing to comply with program rules, which seek to end substance abuse and provide parents with the tools they need to nurture and care for their families.


With a 20-year history, giving blood has become routine for many employees at the Second Judicial District Court.

It's not unusual to see the United Blood Services bus parked outside the Bernalillo County Courthouse.  In fact, the Court participates every three months in blood drives and many employees volunteer to donate.

"Donating blood saves lives.  It's an easy way to help in our community and we are proud that so many of our employees step forward to do their part," Court Executive Officer James A. Noel said.

The blood drives have been organized at the Court for at least the past 20 years, most recently over the past four years under the leadership of procurement specialist Darrell Evans.

"The folks at District Court do an amazing job saving lives through blood donation," said Michelle Moore, donor recruiter for United Blood Services in Albuquerque.

There is always a demand for blood in the Albuquerque area, so the Court encourages all of our employees and anyone else to sign up to become a donor.  The next blood drive at the Courthouse is scheduled for July 19.


Attorneys and mental health professionals provided free assistance to couples who needed help resolving divorce, child custody and other family legal issues.

About 50 attorneys donated their time and legal services at Peter H. Johnstone Day, serving "pro bono," or free of charge, during the March 18 event at Family Court.

Participants do not have legal representation, usually because they cannot afford to hire a lawyer.  Clients must be pre-screened by Court staff.

Timothy Hickox acted on a recommendation from Children’s Court Judge Marie Ward to reserve his spot at the event.  He worked with attorney Bryan Fox to finalize a visitation order.

"It was a lot easier than going through the usual Court process, and it was in the best interest of my child," Hickox said.

Social workers and psychologists helped divorced or separated couples as they agreed on the best custody arrangements for children.  The event also helped the Court by reducing a backlog of pending cases.

There were 48 cases that settled in full and five partial settlements.  Of the 62 cases where both parties showed up, this resulted in an 85 percent settlement rate.

Peter H. Johnstone Day is named for the late family law attorney in Albuquerque who advocated for the best interests of children in custody cases.  He died in 2013.


Staff members at the Second Judicial District Court’s jury division have been carrying a heavy workload for more than a year.

A group of employeesIn February 2015, the Court began implementing a Case Management Order (CMO) that was intended to reduce a backlog of criminal cases.

The CMO is a pilot program in Bernalillo County which established fixed deadlines for the adjudication of criminal cases.  Intended to eliminate unnecessary delays, it has been very effective in achieving this goal.

The number of criminal jury trials conducted at the court has more than doubled in the past year, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of the jury division no trial has been delayed for a lack of jurors.

The Court is on track to eliminate the backlog of criminal cases later this year.


Senior Officials from the State of Maine Judiciary recently visited the Second Judicial District Court to review the Odyssey case management system that is used to track all proceedings in New Mexico courts.

People at a meetingThe Maine Judiciary is poised to replace an aging tracking and monitoring system and has issued a Request for Proposals.  Before a new contract is awarded, the delegation visited New Mexico to get a closer look at the system that is being offered by one of the vendors.

"Our visit was very relevant for what we are considering," said Dave Packard, Chief Information Officer for the Maine Judiciary.  "We are ready to replace a 20-year-old system and it was helpful to hear about another Court’s experience."

Court officials in New Mexico have praised the Odyssey system since its implementation in 2011 for streamlining the docket and making it easier for attorneys, court clerks, judges and their assistants to manage, maintain and file documents.

The delegation from Maine met with SJDC administrators and judges, while SJDC staff members demonstrated how Odyssey is utilized.  Later, the group toured the Clerk’s Office to see how employees file and organize cases as matters are opened with the Court.

During their stay in New Mexico, the delegation from Maine also visited with New Mexico Supreme Court Justices and the Administrative Office of the Courts in Santa Fe, as well as visiting the Metropolitan Courthouse in Albuquerque.


The entrance of the Bernalillo County Courthouse has been reconfigured to feature two security screening stations as part of an effort to streamline access for visitors and employees.

New entryA general entrance for all visitors is open during the regular business hours of 8-5 p.m., while a second security entrance is now available for attorneys and Court employees from 8-9 a.m. and from 1-2 p.m. daily.

Previously, all visitors were directed to a single security screening line.

Most of the reconfiguration work was completed during the last week of February but visitors may notice construction crews for several more weeks as additional enhancements are put into place. No delays to Courthouse access are expected.

The improvements will make it easier for visitors to enter the Courthouse, especially during the peak periods early in the morning and after lunch.


Meet Zeus, the newest member of the team at Veteran’s Court.

ZeusZeus is a 2-year-old Labradoodle who is being trained as an assistance dog.  He is taking part in a program where veterans in Albuquerque prepare animals to help wounded or disabled veterans living in other parts of the country.

The dogs are provided by a Santa Fe-based training firm, Assistance Dogs of the West, which directs the Warrior Canine Connection effort in New Mexico.

Veterans who volunteer for the program have been charged with a felony but have their cases suspended by the Court while they work with the service dogs.

Participants usually receive a conditional discharge after successfully completing the 18- to 24-month program, which helps veterans ease back into society by assigning them responsibilities and teaching them life skills.

Many of those who have worked with the dogs are combat veterans who have served in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Zeus is a Veterans Court Ambassador.  His assignment is to alleviate stress and anxiety by engaging program participants.  The program usually has seven to ten dogs at a time, depending on the number of participating veterans.

Zeus and the other dogs are trained on 90 tasks, such as opening and closing doors and retrieving a dropped object.  When fully trained, the dogs are placed with veterans elsewhere who have physical disabilities and mobility challenges.


A program manager at the Second Judicial District Children's Court is one of the winners of the prestigious Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Award.

Lindsey Lucero

Lindsey Lucero manages the Juvenile Drug Court at the John E. Brown Juvenile Justice Center.  The program seeks to rehabilitate young people who have substance abuse issues through treatment, support and supervision.

In nominating Lucero, Children's Court Judge Marie Ward praised Lucero's commitment to finding the best ways to help youth and families and her tireless efforts to restructure and improve the Juvenile Drug Court.

"The work Lindsey has done has focused on evidence-based practices to ensure that youth and their families are provided with services they need in a respectful and supportive environment, and that everyone is treated with the dignity they deserve," Judge Ward wrote.

Under Lucero's leadership, the number of youth served by the Juvenile Drug Court has increased from 12 in Fiscal Year 2013, the year before her arrival, to 49 in Fiscal Year 2015.  The percentage who graduated from the program has gone from 47 percent in FY13 to 68 percent in FY15 and costs have been cut in half from the figure of $64 per client.

Since 2012, the Children’s Court Improvement Commission at the New Mexico Supreme Court has honored members of the juvenile justice community who have contributed significantly to their field and demonstrated outstanding dedication, leadership, knowledge and integrity.

Children’s Court Judge William Parnall also was nominated for the 2015 award, which was conferred at the New Mexico Children’s Law Institute Conference in January.

The Second Judicial District Court congratulates Lindsey Lucero and her team at the Juvenile Drug Court, as well as Judge Parnall, for their dedication to juvenile justice and their efforts to help young people in Bernalillo County.

The Children’s Court Improvement Commission, an advisory board of the New Mexico Supreme Court, is devoted to improving judicial proceedings related to child abuse and neglect, as well as foster care and adoption.

Judge Parnall


Attorneys and mental health professionals will provide free assistance to pre-screened couples who need help resolving divorce, child custody or other family legal issues on Friday, March 18, at the Second Judicial District Court.

Clients must be pre-screened by Court personnel and then scheduled on the docket.  Those who are accepted can get settlement facilitation assistance in pending divorces, child custody cases, splitting up property or ending other legal conflicts.

About 50 attorneys will volunteer their time and services, serving "pro bono," or free of charge.  Participants do not have legal representation, usually because they cannot afford to hire a lawyer.

Social workers and psychologists also volunteer to assist divorced or separated couples as they agree on the best custody arrangements for their children.

"We strive to provide closure for families while emphasizing the importance of agreements that benefit their children," said Judge Elizabeth Whitefield, presiding judge of the Family Court.  "This event also helps the Court reduce a backlog of pending cases."

If you would like to request that your case be considered for this event, please contact the Center for Self Help and Alternative Dispute Resolution in Room 119 at the Bernalillo County Courthouse for more information and forms.

The event is known as Peter H. Johnstone Day, named for the late family law attorney in Albuquerque who advocated for the best interests of children in custody cases.  He died in 2013.


Romero Guides National Colleagues on Tribal Child Abuse Cases

Albuquerque - The presiding judge of the Children's Court in the Second Judicial District has been appointed to a historic panel that recently examined challenges faced by tribal courts and communities over child welfare cases.

Judge John J. Romero Jr. served as lead faculty, along with Tribal Appellate Judge Cheryl Fairbanks of Albuquerque, during a training by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in Reno, NV, where 18 tribal court judges met for the inaugural Tribal Court Child Abuse and Neglect Leadership Institute.

Training included a study of how traditional native practices like peacemaking can be applied to judicial proceedings.  Participants also discussed federal statutes, ethics, and the impact of bias, trauma, substance abuse and domestic violence on child welfare.

"The Institute presented a tremendous opportunity where tribal court judges from around the country shared lessons on how communities are incorporating traditional Native American practices into their problem-solving processes," Judge Romero said.

In New Mexico, tribal and state court judges collaborate through the Tribal-State Judicial Consortium to address common issues affecting our communities.

"There is much that the state Courts have learned and continue to learn from traditional indigenous justice practices," Romero said.  "We are fortunate to live in an environment in New Mexico where these lessons can be applied to make a positive difference for court-involved children and families."

The Institute was supported by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Casey Family Programs.


Staff members at the Second Judicial District Court adhere to the highest levels of professionalism and customer service.

Just the same, it’s always nice when we get word that someone appreciated it.

Recently, a legal assistant at an Albuquerque law firm wrote a letter to the Court Administration in praise of employees Jennifer Sanchez, Cori Roney and Chris Peck, who work in the Clerk’s Office.

“They are very helpful and patient, as there are times when our office is handling very difficult and out-of-the-box cases.  I am instructed to call the court clerks often, and they do not get upset or bugged,” wrote Ms. Z., who has worked for 23 years in the legal field.

She said the employees have been “extremely knowledgeable and competent” and timely returned her telephone calls to provide much-needed information.


Court Executive Officer James A. Noel is pleased to announce that the Second Judicial District Court has received an unqualified opinion on its annual audit for Fiscal Year 2015 with zero findings.

An unqualified opinion is the top opinion provided.  The audit, performed by an independent auditing team from Ricci & Company of Albuquerque, reviewed the Court’s financial statements, books and records and reported no problems.

“This means that in the auditor’s judgment, the Court’s financial records and statements are fairly and appropriately presented in accordance with standards known as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles,” Noel said.

The outcome is a result of strong internal controls and monitoring efforts, along with robust oversight by the staff of the Fiscal Services Division, led by the Court’s CFO, Farah French.

The Fiscal Services team includes Financial Manager Dimple Tafoya and Financial Specialists Victor Carter, Patricia Miranda and Brenda Tafoya.

The published audit, including the Court’s financial statements, can be viewed here.


David Williams, a longtime federal prosecutor, has been named the Second Judicial District’s newest judge and will join the Court on February 29.

The appointment was announced February 12 by Governor Susana Martinez.  Judge Williams fills the vacancy that was created when former District Judge Judith Nakamura was elevated to the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Judge Williams served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for New Mexico from 1977 to 1981 and from 1985 to 2016.  From 1975 to 1977, he was an Assistant District Attorney in Bernalillo County.

Judge Williams holds Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctorate degrees from the University of New Mexico.  The Second Judicial District Court congratulates the new judge on his appointment to the bench.


Visitors to the Bernalillo County Courthouse will notice changes taking place inside the entrance of the building that will help speed up the process of security screening for court visitors and employees.

The upgrades will be completed by February 28, 2016.  No delays to Courthouse access are expected.

Additional areas of the first floor including the elevators, Clerk’s Office, Jury Division and Drug Court, will not be affected.  Questions may be directed to Court Administration.


District Judge Jacqueline Flores and Pre-Trial Services officer Anthony Rodolfo were recognized during the Albuquerque City Council’s meeting on January 20 for their work with the Second Judicial District Court’s Felony DWI program.

Anthony Rodolfo, Judge Jacqueline Flores, City Councilor Ken Sanchez Councilors issued a proclamation honoring and thanking Judge Flores, Mr. Rodolfo and Dr. Lester Brasher of Albuquerque Behavioral Health as well as prosecutors, defense attorneys and local law enforcement for efforts to help program participants improve their lives and make Albuquerque streets safer by removing repeat drunken driving offenders.

“We are proud of the success we have seen in Felony DWI Court. We know the program is effective for participants who really want to turn their lives around,” Judge Flores said.

The Second Judicial District Court would like to thank City Councilor Ken Sanchez, who recently attended a DWI Court graduation ceremony, for his support and recognition of the Felony DWI Court program.

The Felony DWI Court is a demanding 18-month program for offenders who have had at least five drunken driving convictions. The goal is to promote public safety and reduce recidivism among repeat DWI offenders while providing an alternative to incarceration.

Participants are referred by the District Attorney’s Office and must take part in individual, group and family counseling, often several times each week, in addition to regular urinalysis and breath tests as well as weekly visits with Judge Flores and a sponsor.

Those who fail to comply with their responsibilities are sent back to jail.


Second Judicial District Judge Shannon Bacon has been named Outstanding Judge of the Year by the Albuquerque Bar Association. The award recognizes professionalism and service to the public and the legal profession.

Jan Gilman-Tepper was named Outstanding Lawyer of the Year. According to the Albuquerque Bar Association, the honorees were selected for their attributes in personal integrity, legal skills and professional competence, contributions to the Albuquerque Bar and contributions outside the legal profession.

Judge Bacon was appointed to the District Court bench in 2010 and presides over a civil docket. Currently, Judge Bacon is co-chair of the Second Judicial District’s pro bono and website redesign committees. She is also a commissioner on the Access to Justice Commission, serves on the Supreme Court’s rules of evidence and personnel committees and is President of the District and Metropolitan Court Judges Association. Outside of her work duties, she donates time to organizations that serve the homeless and provide legal services to underserved populations. She is also a hot air balloon enthusiast.

Before taking the bench, Judge Bacon was a shareholder both at the law firms of Sutin, Thayer & Browne and Eaves, Bardacke, Baugh, Kierst & Larson. Her practice focused on a broad range of civil litigation, from personal injury cases to complex commercial litigation. Judge Bacon also sat on numerous boards and committees within the legal community.


The Second Judicial District congratulates District Judge Judith Nakamura on her appointment to the New Mexico Supreme Court.

The appointment was announced November 12 by Governor Martinez. Judge Nakamura will fill the vacancy that was created by the retirement of Justice Richard C. Bosson.

The Judicial Nominating Commission will meet December 7 to begin the process of filling the seat that is currently held by Judge Nakamura.

The Commission will review applications and then forward recommendations to the Governor. When that occurs, the Governor has 30 days to make an appointment.

Typically, after the appointment is made, it takes another two to three weeks for the incoming judge to clear their cases or workload and join the District Court.

Judge Nakamura joined the Second Judicial District Court in January 2013 after serving more than 14 years as a judge in the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court, including four terms as the Chief Judge.

Before joining the judiciary, she served as Assistant Land Commissioner and general counsel at the New Mexico State Land Office and subsequently spent most of her legal career in private practice. 

Judge Nakamura is an avid hot air balloon pilot who is a volunteer member of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta's Board of Directors.


The Honorable Elizabeth Whitefield was among three people who were honored by the University Of New Mexico School of Law during the annual Distinguished Achievement Awards Dinner.

Whitefield, the Presiding Judge of the Family Court, was recognized not only for her successful career as an attorney and judge but also for community service. She is a 1977 graduate of UNM’s School of Law.

Judge Whitefield joined the Court in 2007 after more than 30 years as a family law attorney. Family Court handles divorces, legal separations, custody and time-sharing matters, division of property and debts in divorce cases, spousal support, child support, Uniform Parentage Act cases for unmarried parents, domestic violence cases, kinship-guardianship of children cases and adult adoptions.

The event, sponsored by the Law Alumni Association, is a key fundraiser for the School of Law. Since its inception in 1993, the school has honored 65 graduates and raised more than $570,000 for law school programs, including the Association’s full-tuition scholarships.

According to the School of Law, the dinner honors extraordinary accomplishments and dedicated service by lawyers and others in the legal community to the UNM School of Law, the New Mexico legal community and the greater community inside and outside New Mexico.


Justice Department Awards $279,919 To Program

Albuquerque – The U.S. Department of Justice has awarded a $279,919 grant that will be used to expand operations and double the number of clients served by the Felony DWI Court at Bernalillo County District Court from 30 to 60.

The funding will allow the Felony DWI Court to hire a second officer and pay for operations including additional alcohol monitoring.

"We are very proud of the success we have seen in the Felony DWI Court, and it is exciting to announce the grant award. We hope to help as many eligible defendants as we can," said District Judge Jacqueline D. Flores, who oversees the program.

The Felony DWI Court is a demanding 16-month program for offenders who have had at least five drunken driving convictions. The goal is to promote public safety and reduce recidivism among repeat DWI offenders while providing an alternative to incarceration.

Participants are referred by the District Attorney’s Office and must take part in individual, group and family counseling, often several times each week, in addition to regular urinalysis and breath tests as well as weekly visits with Judge Flores and a sponsor.

"Participation is a privilege and we strictly enforce that clients must attend all required events," Judge Flores said.  "If not, there are consequences. Often, it means immediate dismissal from the program and a trip to jail.”

The program is designed to provide clients with tools and information regarding sobriety and how to maintain it after completion. Costs average $7.03 per client per day, significantly lower than the $92.90 daily cost of incarceration.


Pro Se/Pro Bono Event Is Scheduled For September 18

Albuquerque – Attorneys and mental health professionals will provide free assistance to pre-screened couples who need help resolving divorce, child custody or other family legal issues on Friday, September, 18, at the Bernalillo County District Court.

The annual Peter H. Johnstone Day is a public service where couples can get settlement facilitation assistance in pending divorces, child custody cases, splitting up property or ending other legal conflicts.  The event runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"We strive to provide closure for families while emphasizing the importance of agreements that benefit their children," said Judge Elizabeth Whitefield, presiding judge of the Bernalillo County Family Court.  "The benefit to the Court is that we also reduce a backlog of pending cases."

Clients must be pre-screened by Court personnel and then scheduled on the docket.  About 50 attorneys will volunteer their time and services to help, serving "pro bono," or free of charge.  Participants do not have legal representation, usually because they cannot afford to hire a lawyer.

Social workers and psychologists also volunteer to assist divorced or separated couples as they agree on the best custody arrangements for their children.

"Cases where clients represent themselves take longer to resolve because non-attorneys are unfamiliar with Court procedures," Whitefield said.  "This event streamlines the process and gives the volunteers an opportunity to provide important public services."

The event is named for the late Peter H. Johnstone, a family law attorney in Albuquerque who was known for advocating for the best interests of children in custody cases.  He died in 2013.


Honor comes from American Board of Trial Advocates

Albuquerque – The Honorable Carl J. Butkus has been named State District court Judge of the Year for 2015 by the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Each year, individuals are nominated for outstanding achievements in the legal community and are recognized an at awards dinner.

The American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) is a national association of experienced trial lawyers and judges who are dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the civil jury trial right provided by the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. ABOTA works to uphold the jury system by educating the American public about the history and value of the right to trial by jury.

The Association seeks to foster improvements in the ethical and technical standards of practice in the field of advocacy so that individual litigants may receive more effective representation and the general public benefits by more efficient administration of justice consistent with time-tested and traditional principles of litigation.

The Honorable Karen Molzen, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge, was presented with the Federal Judge of the Year award for 2015.


Disclaimer:  All efforts are made to ensure that information and links are accurate and current. However, users should not cite this information as an official or authoritative source and are advised to independently verify all information. Visitors to this site agree that the Second Judicial District Court of the State of New Mexico is not liable for errors or omissions of any of the information provided. Information contained on this web site should in no way be construed as legal advice. Users should contact an attorney if they require legal assistance or advice.