Primary elections are coming up June 5 and early voting runs through June 2.
The Observer has asked Sandoval County magistrate judge candidates to answer a series of questions. We reproduce their answers here.
All candidates were held to a limit of 600 words. If anyone went over that limit, his or her answers were cut from the bottom to meet the limit exactly.
Q1. In your own words, what would you say is the biggest issue facing Sandoval County Magistrate Court today?
Q3. In your own words, explain why you want this position.
Q4. How can this position contribute to reducing crime in your district?
What is your political/ professional experience? First time candidate / Paralegal/ Legal assistant 19 years total experience NM 2nd and 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Selected by the NM District Attorneys Association 2018 Employee of the year.
A1. The issues I encountered daily while working with the Magistrate Court was that of a very large case load and lack of state funding. Both are of equal importance in that, without funding it is difficult to maintain the necessary work force to adjudicate the number of cases presented daily in a timely manner. Due process is an important part of the judicial system.
A2. A community is best served by its courts when a judge understands the judicial process. This includes a critical understanding of the law and the nature of the case before them. With nearly 20 years of experience working as a paralegal and a legal assistant in the District Attorney’s Office, I have come to understand the process necessary to exercise a fair, honest, and ethical court. My experience and expertise was recently recognized by the New Mexico State District Attorney’s Association as the 2018 Employee of the Year.
A3. I want this position to be able to put my years of experience in the DA’s office as a paralegal and legal assistant to work in assisting to create a safe community for all of Sandoval County. I want the people to have confidence in their judicial system, realizing and understanding that jail may not always be the answer. I want to use the limited voice of the bench to advocate for more shelters for victims of domestic violence and rehabilitation programs for those who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction. I want to assist in putting programs into place that will benefit our county by making those who break the law responsible for their actions by making them give back to our community. I am a strong advocate of rehabilitation and personal responsibility. As Judge, I will strive to not only make our community safe but to also make sure that victims of crime will have resources to assist them in their recovery from the crime they have suffered.
A4. A Judge can have great influence over a first time offender. I will advocate for the use of the numerous federal, state, tribal, and veterans programs available for rehabilitation. By using resources available I will attempt to “nip” a potential repeat offender in the bud by identifying the source of motivation that provoked the crime. Counseling and numerous programs can potentially change a first time offender’s behavior and assist them in becoming a productive member of our society. A judge’s role is to listen in a fair manner to everything presented and then to administer a verdict which is fair to all concerned with that verdict being based on the law. By being fair, honest, and ethical a judge can assist along with all the team members of the law enforcement community in creating a safe community. Team work along with communication throughout the criminal justice system can assist in reducing crime in our county.
Garcia, Joan C
A1. The biggest issue I see facing Sandoval County Magistrate Court is the numerous repeat offenders. Ensuring that offenders are held accountable and that our programs are operating as intended is very important to me. For example I would ensure that those who come into my courtroom participate in the appropriate program for their offense.
A2. As a public servant of the community you can count on me to be accountable and accessible and I will also continue to be actively involved in community events. I will be reliable and honest at all times no matter what type of case comes into my courtroom, always listening to all sides. I will be fair and impartial with my ruling. Sometimes this may require educating individuals on programs available for various offenses and I’m up for the challenge of doing this.
A3. As a resident of Sandoval County, I have a vested interest in making sure our judicial system follows the law. I feel that with my background and past experience I would be an asset to the Sandoval County Magistrate Court. It would be an honor and a privilege to serve as Sandoval County Magistrate Judge.
What is your political/ professional experience? I served successfully as the Sheriff of Sandoval County from 2003 through 2010. I have been in Law Enforcement for 34 years. I am a graduate of the NM State Police Academy, FBI Academy, Quantico, VA, and graduate of the National Sheriff’s Academy, Longmont, CO.
A1. The biggest issue facing the Sandoval Co. magistrate is the excessive number of dismissals created by lack of filing charges within the 72 hour arraignment period as prescribed by law (10 day Rule of Prosecution).
A2. When elected, I will hold court hearings on Saturdays and/or Sundays, as needed, to prevent early release without charging, caused by inaction within the 72 hour arraignment period (10 day Rule of Prosecution).
A1. The “CATCH AND RELEASE SYSTEM” is the issue most affecting the Magistrate Court. The current requirements issued by the Supreme Court of New Mexico to release detainees with little or no bail is overloading the courts. Magistrate Judges are in effect handcuffed by the new guidelines and are unable to maintain custody of serious offenders.
What is your political/ professional experience? I am a graduate of UNM Anderson School of Management with a B.B.A. in B.C.S, 1986. In 1986, I was hired with the Dept. of Energy as a System Analysis. While waiting for my “Q” clearance, I was offered the opportunity to open a bail bond business in Sandoval County. I chose the latter. I have been operating this business since 1986. As a bail bondsman, I have been given the opportunity to see both sides of the criminal issues. There is the issue of fact that a Judge must apply the tools available to him/her to base his/her decision upon. But, a Judge must also rule with fairness and compassion and take each case on an individual basis. I have that quality already instilled in me.
I am currently the President of A Pacheco Bonding, Inc. for 32 years. In those 32 years, I have worked with the Sandoval County Magistrate Court Judicial Systems. Unlike any of my opponents, I have worked with all sides of the Court System including the Judges (past and present), District Attorneys, Defense Attorneys, and Court Staff. I know them, but more importantly, “they know me”. In the years working as a bondsman, I have visited the court house on a daily basis. I have learned to prepare and write motions and orders for the Court’s consideration. I have stood before the Court and argued New Mexico State Statues, Rules of Procedures, and Case Law in regards to the bail bond industry. I have studied the New Mexico Criminal and Traffic Law Manuel that, I will use to base my decision upon as your Magistrate Judge if elected.
2) The numerous continuances/dismissals of cases due to one side or the not being ready to proceed. This causes a back log. With the back log, many cases are never adjudicated and are dismissed. Justices is not served. Victims rights are not protected nor do they get to have “their day in court”.
What is your political/professional experience? I am the current Sandoval County Magistrate judge in division two and have served as a judge for three and a half years. I have over 15 years’ experience as an attorney and judge in Sandoval County. I have been a prosecutor in misdemeanor and felony cases with the District Attorney’s office, and a criminal defense attorney defending both felony and misdemeanor charges including DWI, domestic violence, drug cases and other types of cases. I was a civil trial attorney representing injury, contract, real estate, probate and estates, family law and other clients. I also represented parents in child abuse and neglect cases. I have a substantial knowledge of the rules of criminal and civil procedure, rules of evidence and stay current on recent case law and appellate court decisions. Currently as Magistrate judge I hear DWI, domestic violence, all other misdemeanors including drug possession, theft, and traffic cases, in addition to felony preliminary examination hearings, and probation violations. I also preside over numerous civil cases including landlord/tenant, contract, torts and other civil issues.
A1. Sandoval County is a fast growing county with an increasing population and the additional crime that comes with growth. Property crime including auto theft and burglary are big issues, as are DWI, drug abuse and drug trafficking. The lack of alcohol and drug abuse treatment facilities in Sandoval County for sentencing options, remain an issue.
A3. I want this position so I can continue to be proactive with our local programs that raise awareness for the problem with Domestic Violence and DWIs here in Sandoval County and the State of New Mexico. This office requires that every day I must make tough decisions based on facts and evidence. I treat everyone with fairness, respect and I have the temperament, patience and the ability to perform these complex duties that are required to be a Judge. This office also offers some enjoyable aspects as well including having the privilege and honor of marrying couples from various communities throughout Sandoval County. In either and all facets of the duties required, my background, employment, education and the twelve (12) years experience on the bench makes me the best matched candidate for this position. I am the people’s Judge.
What is your political/professional experience? In 2004, I made a solemn promise to serve and protect the citizens of Sandoval County as a Law Enforcement Officer. I’ve faithfully and honorably protected the families of Sandoval County both as a Deputy Sheriff and a Police Corporal in Rio Rancho. I was elected as Chairman of the Sandoval County DWI Planning Council in 2012 and have dedicated myself to this mission through legislative actions, collaborative community outreach with tribal, and government leaders, as well as helping to educate our community on the prevention and treatment components of the program. In 2013, I was elected by my peers to serve as President of the Rio Rancho Police and Communications Association, Inc. During my 4.5 year tenure I represented over 140 members of the finest police agency and communications section in New Mexico. I established and provided direction for the organization, served as lead negotiator during labor management bargaining, chief public information officer, analyzed and structured budgets within the municipal budgetary process, including coordinating fiscal implementation of finances. From 2012-2017, I was appointed to the Balloon Fiesta Park Commission, where I assisted in overseeing the operation, management, and development of Balloon Fiesta Park, provided direction for the Master Plan Design, and Development project budget of $104 million in cooperation with city and state leaders, and the governing body. In 2017, I became a certified mediator through the UNM School of Law’s Mediation course, one of the “oldest and most respected” courses offered by any law school; providing me with the functional ability to better understand and manage conflict constructively.
A3. I’ve protected the families of Sandoval County and Rio Rancho since 2004, and now I seek to protect our citizens as your Magistrate Court Judge. I’ve placed my life on the line between good and evil, enduring self-sacrifice, personal suffering, and witnessed unspeakable horrors so that families can sleep soundly at night. I am not commonplace, for me it’s not about the law, it’s truly about the people. Justice Bedsworth CA-COA, said it best “every case involves people. People with problems.” As Magistrate Judge, I’ll listen to and respect the people that come before the court, provide them an opportunity to be heard, then apply the law which will help solve problems or disputes with fairness to those people. I am the judge the cops want, the community needs, and our families deserve.