A complaint of judicial misconduct filed last July against Chief Judge H.R Quintero of the Sixth Judicial District Court has been “carefully considered” by the New Mexico Judicial Standards Commission, and the Commission “decided that no action should be taken.”
The Commission made an identical judgment last October in deciding a similar complaint against Judge J.C. Robinson of the Sixth Judicial District Court.
Both complaints were filed last July 18 by Peter Burrows of Silver City, and both concerned the hiring of Judge Robinson’s daughter-in-law, Abigail Robinson, as Special Master for the Sixth Judicial Court, a contract position for which she was paid $67,000 per year. Ms. Robinson recently resigned the position.
In his complaint, Burrows made note of the fact that Judges Quintero and Robinson had been in private practice together, and, “Whether or not Judge Quintero was involved in the hiring decision, he should have been aware of the appearance of impropriety, i.e. nepotism and therefore should have prevented the hiring.”
Burrows said he was very disappointed that no action was going to be taken against any of the attorneys involved.
“All three should have known better,” he said. “The Rules of Judicial Conduct clearly state that when making appointments, such appointments must be made impartially, on the basis of merit, and judges must avoid nepotism or even the appearance of impropriety.”
By law, the Commission’s deliberations are confidential and Burrows said: “I would love to have a transcript of the proceedings. Where am I going wrong here, or am I? What in the world do they consider an 'appearance of impropriety,' if this doesn’t fit?"
Burrows also noted that a recent report from the Institute for Legal Reform reported that New Mexico ranked 47th in judges’ competence and 45th in overall legal climate.
“I have no idea how they arrive at those rankings,” Burrows said, “but perhaps this is something our political representatives should look at. I know the Democratic, Republican and Tea Parties of Grant County were all upset with this perceived nepotism situation, because all three Party Chairs signed a joint letter to New Mexico Supreme Court Chief Justice Maes, informing her of their concern.”
Complaints about judicial misconduct are filed with the Judicial Standards Commission, the only agency with the responsibility to investigate complaints and make recommendations to the New Mexico Supreme Court, which has final authority. Detailed information is available at: www.nmjsc.org.