On Nov. 4, Santa Fe voters will be asked whether or not to retain judges in the First Judicial District. Judges must receive 57 percent affirmative votes for retention. This week, we submitted three of the judges to our Pop Quiz. The rules for Pop Quiz are as follows: No research allowed and if they call back later with the right answer, too bad. To see who answered correctly (or came closest), check out our answer key.
1. What’s the maximum sentence and fine for violators of New Mexico’s Antiterrorism Act?
2. Where does the term “kangaroo court” originate?
3. What is your position on pre-trial diversion for first-time offenders with mental health
conditions, regardless of the charge?
4. Do you miss being a trial attorney?
5. What is one thing the Legislature could do to improve the justice system in the First Judicial District?
6. What was your theory regarding the ethereal image caught on courthouse security video last summer?
7. What defense attorney holds the record for getting through the court metal detector, without setting it off, the most times in a row?
Judge Tim Garcia, 52, Division V (Criminal/Civil)
1. I’m not sure which level of felony the Antiterrorist Act has been assigned. If it is a fourth-degree felony offense, which I’m not sure it is, it would be 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
2. I would assume Australia, but I’m speculating it’s England.
3. I don’t think you can have an overall position, because it does depend on the charge, but I’m supportive of pretrial diversion and there are also other mechanisms to deal with those individuals who have mental health or capacity issues, already within the system. But the pre-trial diversion system is just one of those mechanisms. It does depend on the charge.
4. In some respects, yes. You always miss the things you don’t get to do that you’ve done for such a long period of time.
5. The biggest thing they could do right now is give us the additional judges we’ve been requesting. We are on the list for two additional judges right now and the caseload is very heavy, so we could really use the additional judges that have been requested.
6. I did get to see it. It was very interesting; that’s all I can say. I really didn’t [have a theory]. It was very interesting to watch it; it caught everybody’s attentions and we were all intrigued by it, but I really couldn’t tell you exactly what that was. That’s the ghost they were talking about, right, the suspected ghost? It would be wonderful if it established something. I think they finally said they thought it was a bee or something.
7. I can’t tell you who it is, but I know there is a criminal defense attorney that has some kind of metal plate or something within his system that sends the detector off every time.
Judge Stephen Pfeffer, 60, Division IV (Criminal)
1. Never had the case. I don’t know.
3. I would have to say, for the most part, I would be amenable to that, but I would have to evaluate the particular charge.
4. Somewhat, but I was an attorney for 24 years before I was on the bench. While that was an exciting and gratifying career, the bench has been a very reinvigorating new career.
5. It could approve and fund the new judgeship, the additional new judgeship that is going before the Legislature this year.
6. My feeling on the matter was that regardless of what it was, it would have to go through security just like everyone else.
7. Don’t know.
Judge Michael E. Vigil, 55, Division IV (Criminal)
1. Boy. I have not had one of those cases come in front of me, so I’m not sure.
3. I think that it is a good idea and, in fact, we have a mental treatment court now here in the first district where we are not diverting, but after adjudication we’re sending them to the mental treatment court for treatment of their mental condition and having great success with that. Probably an earlier diversion would even be better and the problem that we have as judges is we don’t see them until they’re in the system. So, if we had a system that could divert them prior to them getting into the criminal justice system, that would be excellent.
4. Yes, I do. Yes, I do. I practiced law for 17 years and I was a trial attorney, and there are many times when you’re sitting up on the bench watching the lawyers try a case and you start second-guessing them and wondering why they are doing what they’re doing and why they didn’t do something maybe a little differently. So, I do miss the actual trial work, being in the heat of battle, if you will.
5. They could get us another judgeship. There is actually going to be a bill there to create a new judgeship. We are quite overwhelmed with our caseloads here in the first district. The case studies, done by the administrative office of the courts, show that we are short a judge. That would be the best thing they could do to help us.
6. I could not explain it. When I saw it, I was quite amazed by it and it turned out to be something as simple as a bug. But at first, I thought it might be something supernatural.
7. I know it was between Hugh Dangler and Dan Marlowe, and I think last time I checked it was Dan Marlowe.
1. New Mexico’s Antiterrorism Act only covers terrorist training. For both instructor and student, the crime is a Fourth Degree Felony, which carries an 18-month prison sentence or a maximum fine of $5,000.
2. “Kangaroo court” is an American phrase originating with the impromptu justice courts from the Gold Rush.
6. The main theory behind the security video footage was that the image was the ghost of Andy Lopez, who took nine hostages at the courthouse in 1985. A researcher contacted by The New Mexican determined the image was either an insect or tree fluff.
7. Dan Marlowe cleared security more than 50 times before he stopped counting. Until recently, a tally between Marlowe and Public Defender Hugh Dangler was posted on the wall next to the security area.