Regional
1:58 am
Tue October 23, 2012

Commission Recommends Retaining State Judges

The Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission has recommended to retain all three New Mexico judges up for retention in November.

“Thank you for calling Sanz and Torres, how can I help you?”

This is where Denise Torres works. She’s the chair of the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission – JPEC.

The group is made up of about a dozen lawyers and non-lawyers from across the state. They meet once a month to evaluate the performance of New Mexico’s judges.

JPEC evaluates a judge’s performance over time. Denise puts it into terms we can all understand.

“I would hate to be judged on my worst day. Some people have god days and some people have bad days. So we try to look at the big picture," said Torres.

That includes comments from lawyers, jurors and judges’ self-evaluations on specifics like fairness, legal knowledge and preparation.

So come election day, how do you know who is a fair judge and who’s not?

Denise says her family asks the same thing.

“What I’ve advised my friends and family to di is print out their ballot. You can get online and print it out and if you don’t recognize a name go to NMJPEC.org.”

On the website you can see comments and whether JPEC recommends retaining a judge.

A judge must receive a “retain” vote from 57 percent of voters to keep their position. 

Richard Bosson is up to be retained in the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Roderick Kennedy and Michael Vigil are up for the state Court of Appeals.

JPEC recommends retaining all three of them this year.

Denise works closely with judges and says their job can be isolating, but as she puts it:

“Judges are people too and I would encourage lawyers and just people in the community, if you have an opportunity to speak with a judge, you absolutely should. I’ve always found they’re willing to talk to you and share their experiences.”