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



Couples facing family law issues—such as s divorce, child custody and timesharing—without the assistance of attorneys have a chance to settle their cases free of charge at the Second Judicial District Court’s Peter H. Johnstone Pro Se Pro Bono Mediation Day.

On Friday, April 20, 2018, roughly 65 to 70 family law attorneys will be at the Second District Courthouse serving as volunteer mediators for couples who want to resolve their difference through negotiation rather than litigation.

The Second District Court has been hosting Pro Se Pro Bono Family Law Mediation Days since at least 2012.  Peter H. Johnstone, a family law attorney in Albuquerque, was one of the early organizers, and the events were named in his honor following his death in 2013.

On average, 65% of the couples participating in these events reach a full settlement of their cases by the end of the mediation session. Typically, an additional 10% to 15% reach at least a partial settlement.

“It’s always better—especially when children are involved—for couples to resolve issues on their own terms, rather than have solutions forced on them by the court,” said Judge Debra Ramirez, Presiding Judge of Family Court. “We are fortunate to have attorneys in our community who are willing to help couples who cannot afford legal representation find creative ways of resolving their cases.”

“Our goal is to resolve these cases on Peter Johnstone Day, and we usually do. A few cases get reset, but even with some of those we find this process helps get them on the path to a solution,” said Torri Jacobus, Director of the Court’s Center for Self Help and Dispute Resolution.

There two requirements for couples wishing to participate in a Peter H. Johnstone Pro Se Pro Bono Mediation event:

•    Neither party can be represented by an attorney.
•    They must be referred by the Family Court.

Couples can be referred to the event by submitting a request to the judge presiding over a current case, or by making the request when opening a new case. The Court’s Center for Self Help and Dispute Resolution can provide information for how to submit those requests.

The Center for Self Help and Dispute Resolution is located on the first floor of the Second Judicial District Courthouse at 400 Lomas Blvd. NW, in Albuquerque. The Center is open 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday through Friday.

The Center for Self Help and Dispute Resolution can be reached by telephone at 505-841-6702.

 


“A View from Gold Mountain” is the name of the sculpture to be installed on the west side of the Second Judicial District Courthouse to recognize the Asian American community’s historical relationship with the justice system.

The Asian American Monument Committee unanimously chose this work by the artistic team of Cheryll Leo-Gwin and Stewart Wong after a final round of judging this past January.  The Bernalillo County Commission, which is overseeing funding for the project, gave its approval for the county manager to execute a contract with the artists in late March.

The  monument committee had put out a nationwide call for a piece of art to reflect the Asian American community’s experiences interacting with the legal system, starting with the landmark case of the Territory of New Mexico v. Yee Shun. That 1882 case was the first in which testimony from an Asian American was considered valid in a United States court of law.

The ruling was somewhat bittersweet for members of the Asian community. On one hand, the ruling by New Mexico Supreme Court acknowledged that Asian Americans could take and abide by an oath to tell the truth when testifying in court—even if they adhered to a non-Christian religion. Previously, U.S. courts had only recognized oaths taken by practicing Christians as valid for giving legal testimony.

On the other hand, the testimony given by an Asian American was the most important piece of evidence leading to the murder conviction of Yee Shun, who many historians now believe was innocent.  Yee Shun was sentenced to life in prison for a murder that took place in Las Vegas, New Mexico on February 24, 1882. Shortly after hearing the appeal of his conviction had been denied, Yee Shun committed suicide in his cell in Leavenworth, Kansas, where he had been transported to serve his sentence.

The monument committee asked artists to consider this historical context when creating the work they would propose installing outside the district courthouse.  The winning team said they considered this history in not only creating their work, but in naming it as well.

Seeking the Pot of Gold 

“During the Gold Rush, people in China called America the Gold Mountain. They came to America to seek their fortunes and find the pot of gold to send or take home,” the artists wrote in the proposal accompanying a model of their work.  “Immigrants from other regions also came to that Gold Mountain for similar reasons. Instead, like Yee Shun and the Chinese, because of their skin color, culture or other differences, they found hardship, starvation, death and disillusionment. The pot of gold was more often than not only an elusive dream.”

Since its selection for installation outside the courthouse, Leo-Gwin and Wong’s sculpture has garnered much positive attention, including recognition in a national online magazine dedicated to the arts.

Despite these hardships, immigrants from Asia and elsewhere persisted and built lives for themselves and their families. Over time, the judiciary and other branches of government came together to offer these citizens a measure of justice and equality. 

 


Second Judicial District Veterans Court Recognizes its 59th Graduate

The Second Judicial District’s Veterans Court recognized its 59th graduate on March 7, 2017, when Jerome Fuentes, a United States Air Force veteran from the Vietnam era, officially completed the program.

The graduation ceremony took place in the courtroom of District Court Judge Christina Argyres, who told Fuentes he had been “a tremendous asset to our program.” Judge Argyres also advised Fuentes not to view completing the program as an ending, but rather as “the beginning of a whole new lifestyle that you have committed to.”

Participation in Veterans Court is voluntary; however, participants must get approval from the Veterans Court judges and the prosecuting attorney to be accepted into the program. In addition to Judge Argyres, District Court Judge Stan Whitaker also presides over Veterans Court cases.

The criteria for defendants to be accepted into the program includes agreeing to follow all program rules—which consists of regularly attending counseling or therapy sessions—until completion of the program. At a minimum, that is an 18-month to 24-month commitment.

Once the Veterans Court Team deems a defendant eligible for the program, the prosecuting attorney will make a plea offer that includes Veterans Court. That plea will outline two sets of sentencing stipulations. One would apply if the defendant successfully completes the program; the other would apply if the defendant does not complete the program. Defendants who are eligible for a conditional discharge often have seen their charges dismissed after successfully completing the program.

Rehabilitation v. Incarceration

The Second Judicial District Court launched the Veterans Court program in November 2011, with a goal of rehabilitating—instead of incarcerating—veterans charged with certain felony-level crimes. Defendants charged with violent crimes resulting in death or great bodily harm, sexual offenses, crimes against children or a 5th DWI are automatically excluded from the program.

The court started the program because judges realized that many of the veterans appearing in court were dealing with substance abuse and/or mental health issues that very likely were underlying causes for the behavior that led to their arrest.

Upon acceptance into the program, participants are supervised by the District Court’s Judicial Supervision and Diversion Programs unit. Staff members from that unit guide participants through the program’s five phases, all of which include some level of treatment tailored to the individual veteran’s needs.

The program seems to work well for veterans because much of the therapy and counseling is done in group settings, which allows veterans to form bonds and support one another in much the same way they did as part of military units.

“Phase one is like an orientation to the program. A new participant learns what is expected of them while in the program and what they may expect from the program and team in return. They also have opportunities to meet the other participants and start establishing peer support,” said Tamara Wheeler, a lead worker in the Judicial Supervision and Diversion Programs unit. “Furthermore, the rules are stricter in this phase with regard to testing for drug and alcohol use because it provides a deterrent for future use, highlights positive behaviors, and allows for rapid intervention for those who need extra support or may have recently relapsed.”

Peer support also includes mentoring by veterans who may not be in the program, but have volunteered to help others make it through the process. Although one current veteran mentor, Michael Rooney, is a program graduate.

As a participant advances through the phases, they get more freedom, such as being allowed to travel out of state.

Ninety seven veterans have entered the program since its inception. Fuentes is the Veterans Court’s fifty-ninth graduate, and twenty one participants are currently active in the program.

Fuentes has indeed changed his lifestyle since joining the Veterans Court program on August 31, 2016 after pleading guilty to charges of assault with a deadly weapon. “I consider myself an alcoholic,” he said on his graduation day. “The biggest thing this program did for me was to get me to stop drinking.”

At a hearing on his case just before the graduation ceremony, even the team prosecutor commented on how well Fuentes did in the program and recommended that he receive a conditional discharge as a result of successfully completing the program.

With his legal issues behind him, Fuentes said, he plans to “restart my bucket list.” The first entry on that list is riding to the Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, something he never thought possible before he entered the Veterans Court Program.


The New Mexico Supreme Court has appointed Second Judicial District Court Judge C. Shannon Bacon, Chair, and Judge Nancy Franchini, Vice-Chair, of a committee charged with implementing steps for improving the state’s adult guardianship system.

The committee is comprised of members from all three branches of state government, including Sen. James White of Albuquerque, who sponsored the newly enacted legislation, and Rep. Damon Ely of Corrales, the bill’s co-sponsor.

The new law, Senate Bill 19, was passed during the 2018 legislative session and takes effect on July 1, 2018. It will revamp the state’s guardianship system by opening court hearings that historically have been closed and giving family members more access to court records in guardianship cases.

In addition to making the guardianship process more transparent, the new law allocates $1 million for the courts to develop processes for better tracking and management of guardianship cases. The steering committee will advise the New Mexico Supreme Court on priorities for funds appropriated by the Legislature for guardianship reforms.

“Judge Bacon and Judge Franchini are natural choices for leadership roles on this committee,” said Chief Judge Nan Nash of the Second Judicial District Court. “When legislation for reforming the guardianship system was introduced, Judge Bacon and Judge Franchini took the lead in helping legislators understand how changes to the law would impact New Mexicans and the judiciary’s role in the guardianship process.”

“I am honored to be a part of a team tasked with the very important job of reforming our state’s guardianship system,” said Judge Bacon. “The new law is aimed at increasing transparency, establishing safeguards for protected persons, and allowing greater involvement of family members in guardianship proceedings. This committee will put together concrete, actionable recommendations to the Supreme Court on establishing priorities for guardianship reforms, statewide review of guardianship and conservatorship cases, and ensuring comprehensive oversight of the guardianship system.

“I am pleased about this appointment and looking forward to meeting with the representatives of the three branches of government, implementing the key objectives of this new legislation and evaluating the recommendations of the New Mexico Adult Guardianship Study Commission,” said Judge Franchini.

The New Mexico Supreme Court also appointed Judge Bacon and Judge Franchini to serve on a separate committee to recommend changes in rules governing court procedures in guardianship and conservatorship cases.


The New Mexico Supreme Court, working with the Executive and Legislative branches, has formed a committee with representatives from all branches of state government to assist in the implementation of newly enacted legislation for improving the adult guardianship system. 

Second Judicial District Court Judge C. Shannon Bacon will chair the steering committee and District Judge Nancy Franchini will serve as vice chair.

The panel will make recommendations regarding $1 million allocated to the Administrative Office of the Courts by the Legislature for guardianship reforms. Among the possibilities are funding auditors – potentially in the State Auditor’s Office – to examine financial information submitted to the courts by conservators, hiring contractors to assist in a statewide review of guardianship and conservatorship cases, and designing user-friendly online forms to ensure conservators file more accurate and consistent information with the courts, which also will help with auditing and monitoring of conservatorship reports.

Court-appointed guardians make personal and health care decisions for individuals who are incapacitated. Conservators are appointed by a court to manage the financial and possibly the property affairs of an incapacitated person, including those who may have dementia, traumatic brain injuries, a developmental disability or mental illness.

The Supreme Court has appointed a separate committee to recommend changes in rules that govern court procedures in guardianship and conservatorship cases. Gaelle McConnell, an Albuquerque attorney, will chair the Ad Hoc Guardianship and Conservatorship Rules and Forms Committee. The committee, as part of its work, will consider rule amendments necessary to comply with the guardianship legislation (Senate Bill 19) approved during the 2018 legislative session.

The new law, which takes effect on July 1, opens court hearings that are now closed and expands access to court records for family members and others who are entitled to notice of guardianship proceedings under the new statutory requirements. 

Formation of the rules committee was among the recommendations of the New Mexico Adult Guardianship Study Commission, which was appointed by the Supreme Court last year to propose improvements in the guardianship system. Other commission recommendations included changes in annual financial reports that conservators must file with courts.

The steering committee also will advise the Supreme Court on possible future steps for revising the guardianship system, including how to proceed with recommendations made by the study commission.

Other steering committee members are: Sen. James White of Albuquerque; Rep. Daymon Ely of Corrales; State Auditor Wayne Johnson; Leslie Porter, cabinet director in the Office of Gov. Susana Martinez; Third Judicial District Court Chief Judge James Martin; Thirteenth Judicial District Court Chief Judge Louis McDonald; and First Judicial District Court Judge David Thomson. Three AOC staff members are non-voting committee members: Greg Saunders, chief information officer; Celina Jones, general counsel; and Patricia Galindo, an attorney who has worked on guardianship and conservatorship issues.

Other rules committee members are: District Judges Bacon and Franchini; Mary Galvez of Guardianship and Care Management Services LLC; Alice Liu McCoy of Disability Rights New Mexico; Ruth Pregenzer, an Albuquerque attorney; Sarah Steadman of the University of New Mexico Law School; and Mary H. Smith, an Albuquerque attorney.


More than 150 people got answers to their legal questions at 2018’s first Law-La-Palooza free legal fair.

The event was held at the Barelas Community Center, 801 Barelas Rd. SW, Albuquerque on Thursday, March 15, 2018.

Legal experts, including several district court judges, attorneys and law students volunteered their time to speak with people who couldn’t afford to pay for legal advice. At a Law-La-Palooza, citizens get 30 minutes to speak with an attorney or legal expert about any legal issues they are facing at no cost.

The Law-La-Palooza legal fairs are designed to help low-income people and families facing a wide range of legal issues, including divorce, custody, bankruptcy, contracts, landlord/tenant, creditor/debtor, child support, kinship/guardianship, wills, probates, personal injury, powers of attorney, public benefits, unemployment, immigration, Social Security, disability, IRS tax issues foreclosure, and name changes.

The fairs are sponsored by the Second Judicial District Court Pro Bono Committee and the Volunteer Attorney Program, a program of Legal Aid New Mexico.

The District Court’s Pro-Bono Committee—co-chaired by Judge Shannon Bacon and Judge Alan Malott—has been hosting Law-La- Paloozas each year since 2010. Over that time, roughly 8,000 individuals—about 1,000 each year—have gotten help with their legal problems at these events.

"New Mexicans continue to struggle in a difficult economy which has left one in five of us at or near the poverty level. Legal problems exacerbate the effects of poverty and can foster a cycle of failure that derails lives," said Judge Malott. "New Mexico lawyers have shown both responsibility and compassion for those less fortunate by providing free consultations to thousands of residents through Law-La- Palooza legal fairs in Bernalillo County and across the state. The need continues and I know the Bar will remain responsive."

The Second Judicial District Court Pro Bono Committee and the Volunteer Attorney Program, a program of Legal Aid New Mexico, host four Law-La- Palooza events each year. The full schedule for remaining 2018 fairs is below. All events run from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

  • Law-La-Palooza - July 12, 2018, Alamosa Community Center, 6900 Gonzales Rd SW, Albuquerque
  • Law-La-Palooza - October 18, 2018, North Domingo Baca Community Center, 7521 Carmel Ave NE, Albuquerque
  • Law-La-Palooza - December 13, 2018, Loma Linda Community Center, 1700 Yale Blvd SE, Albuquerque

For more information about these events, contact Aja Brooks, Pro Bono Coordinator for the Volunteer Attorney program, at 505-814- 5033 or ajab@nmlegalaid.org.


Law-La-Palooza Free Legal Fairs are back for 2018; First One in Barelas on March 15

The Second Judicial District Court Pro Bono Committee and the Volunteer Attorney Program will host their first Law-La-Palooza free legal fair of the year on Thursday, March 15, 2018. The event will take place at the Barelas Community Center, 801 Barelas Rd. SW, Albuquerque, from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

These free legal fairs are designed to help low-income people and families facing a wide range of legal issues, including divorce, custody, bankruptcy, contracts, landlord/tenant, creditor/debtor, child support, kinship/guardianship, wills, probates, personal injury, powers of attorney, public benefits, unemployment, immigration, SSI/SSDI, IRS tax issues foreclosure, and name changes.

The District Court’s Pro-Bono Committee—co-chaired by Judges Shannon Bacon and Alan Malott—has been hosting Law-La-Paloozas each year since 2010. Over that time, roughly 8,000 individuals—about 1,000 each year—have gotten help with their legal problems at these events.

“New Mexicans continue to struggle in a difficult economy which has left one in five of us at or near the poverty level. Legal problems exacerbate the effects of poverty and can foster a cycle of failure that derails lives,” said Judge Malott. “New Mexico lawyers have shown both responsibility and compassion for those less fortunate by providing free consultations to thousands of residents through Law-LaPalooza legal fairs in Bernalillo County and across the state. The need continues and I know the Bar will remain responsive. ”

Law-La-Palooza participants can speak with an attorney or legal expert for 30 minutes about any legal issues they are facing. Volunteers are comprised of attorneys, judges, court staff, and law students. Interpreters and bilingual attorneys will be on site. Help will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Community service providers also staff tables to provide additional resources to attendees. Prior to the March 15 event, the Southwest Women’s Law Center will give a free presentation on accessing child care and health care benefits from 2:00 PM to 2:45 PM. Those who attend the presentation can preregister for their consultation with an attorney.

The Second Judicial District Court Pro Bono Committee and the Volunteer Attorney Program, a program of Legal Aid New Mexico, host four Law-La-Palooza events each year. The full schedule for 2018 is below. All events run from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

  • Law-La-Palooza—March 15, 2018, Barelas Community Center, 801 Barelas Road, SW, Albuquerque
  • Law-La-Palooza—July 12, 2018, Alamosa Community Center, 6900 Gonzales Rd SW, Albuquerque
  • Law-La-Palooza—October 18, 2018, North Domingo Baca Community Center, 7521 Carmel Ave NE, Albuquerque
  • Law-La-Palooza—December 13, 2018, Loma Linda Community Center, 1700 Yale Blvd SE, Albuquerque.

For more information about these events, contact Aja Brooks, Pro Bono Coordinator for the Volunteer Attorney program, at 505-814-5033 or ajab@nmlegalaid.org .


The Second Judicial District, including Chief Judge Nan Nash, has been helping the University Of New Mexico School of Law Frederick Douglass Moot Court Team prepare for the upcoming national competition in Brooklyn, New York in March 2018.

The team members are Valentina Basile and Sara Klemundt, who was a judicial extern with the District Court in the fall of 2017. Klemundt and Basile took first place in the Western Regional competition this past January. Both team members are part of the UNM Law School class of 2019. They are coached by Professor Emerita Barbara P. Blumenfeld.

A moot court competition simulates arguing a case before an appellate court. In their competitions, Klemundt and Basile have been arguing issues of how the Fourth Amendment impacts the circumstances of a cross-border shooting and damage remedies under a Bivens claim.

Chief Judge Nash and members of the District Court—including Tori Jacobus, Director of the Court’s Self Help & Dispute Resolution Center—have been helping the team prepare by sitting in as the Appellate Court panel during practice sessions.

In a recent practice session, Chief Judge Nash and Elizabeth Garcia, the Court’s General Counsel, joined Professor Blumenfeld to make up the appellate panel. As they listened to oral arguments, panel members peppered the aspiring attorneys with questions that judges would likely raise during an actual appellate hearing.

The students had intelligent responses to panelist’s questions, displaying the poise and confidence that helped them place first overall at the Western Regionals. The team also won the team won the award for Best Petitioner's Brief, and Klemundt earned the award for Best Oral Advocate.

With that record, the team is poised to do well at the National Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition. Members of the Second Judicial District Court are proud to have helped them along the way.


ALBUQUERQUE – If you’ve ever wondered how the court system works, you can get an introduction to the important work the judiciary does every day. The Second Judicial District Court will open its doors to the community for public tours the first week in March in recognition of National Judicial Outreach Week.

The American Bar Association’s Judicial Division has designated the first full week of March each year as National Judicial Outreach Week. “Preserving the Rule of Law” is the theme for this week. Preservation of our liberty as individual citizens depends on preservation of the rule of law, and the preserving the rule requires having fair and impartial courts.

“We encourage people to come tour the Court and see the significant work courts do every day. The Court exists to serve the public, and its primary mission is to ensure that everyone—regardless of their background or social standing—is treated fairly under the law,” said Chief Judge Nan Nash.

Court tours at the main Second Judicial District Courthouse at 400 Lomas will begin at 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM on Tuesday, March 6 and Thursday, March 8, 2018. The Second Judicial District Children’s Court, located at 5100 Second Street., NW will host a tour on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, beginning at 1:30 PM.

Visitors will get an overview of the New Mexico judiciary and the role of the District Court in the judiciary. They also will learn about the different divisions of District Court and what types of cases each division handles.

Any member of the community wishing to take a court tour should sign up in advance by sending an email with the words “Court Tour” in the subject line to albdsxh@nmcourts.gov. All court visitors also should be aware of the need to comply with established court security procedures, which means no cellphones, weapons or contraband are allowed inside the courthouse. All visitors will be screened for such items before entering the courthouse for safety purposes.


The Second Judicial District Court’s stated mission includes providing services to the diverse community of Bernalillo County in a knowledgeable and safe environment. The staff in the Court’s Scanning Division takes that mission to heart.

This division is responsible for scanning, quality checking and organizing files related to the thousands of cases that flow through the district court each year. The Scanning Division also staffs the Court’s Information Desk, which fields questions from people who contact the Court by phone or when they walk into the building.

In 2017, the Information Desk processed a total of 35,996 telephone calls and assisted 25,442 individuals in person.

Elissia Torres is primarily responsible for staffing the Information Desk and is well known for being extremely helpful in getting members of the public the information they need—whether communicating with them in phone or in person. Elissia also assists in developing articles and taking photographs for the Court’s website.

Other division employees also enthusiastically staff the Information desk when called upon, along with their other duties. Several of those staff members are Language Access Specialists. They provided language interpretation services to members of the public more than 700 times in 20017.

The Second Judicial District says kudos to the entire Scanning Division for a job well done.


For three days in February, several judges in Bernalillo County's Second Judicial District will turn their courtrooms over to teams of aspiring attorneys vying for spots in the finals of the country’s most prestigious mock trial competition.  In addition, a number of district court judges have volunteered to preside over some of the mock trials.

Law students participating in mock trials develop important skills, including creative problem solving, effective collaboration, forming persuasive arguments, public speaking, critical thinking, and thinking on one's feet.

"The regional mock trial competition provides invaluable experience for the next generation of practicing attorneys.  It is important that the entire legal community and the judiciary come together and support these types of experiences for aspiring attorneys.  These events offer a unique opportunity for law students to practice trial advocacy skills in a courtroom setting," said Chief Judge Nan Nash.

Teams from law schools in five western states—New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma and Wyoming—will be competing in the regional round of the National Mock Trial competition.  The American College of Trial Lawyers has sponsored this national competition every year since 1975.  The top two teams from the regional round will compete in the national finals in Austin, Texas later this year.  The winning team at the national finals earns a $10,000 donation to its law school.

The Second Judicial District Court opened its courtrooms for this competition at the request of the University of New Mexico School of Law, the official host for the regional competition.

"We are honored to host the National Mock Trial Competition for the western region this year and deeply grateful to the all of the members of the judiciary and staff of the Second Judicial District Courthouse for their kind support of this important competition," said UNM School of Law Co-Deans Alfred Mathewson and Sergio Pareja.

Members of the local legal community also have volunteered to support this event by serving as bailiffs, witnesses and other necessary parties for the various trials taking place over the three days.  Special thanks go to the student competitors and to their coaches.


The Second Judicial District Court hosted an annual Giving Tree Project for local charitable service organizations this holiday season. SJDC partnered with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and New Mexico Kids Matter, the New Mexico Veterans Integration Center, the APS Title I Homeless Project, and Animal Humane New Mexico. The Court’s aim was inspire those who work here and those who provide services to the public to give back to the community. SJDC giving trees were located in 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, veterans, and our devoted companion animals during the season of giving," said James Noel, Court Executive Officer. SJDC staff demonstrated exceptional community service by helping meet the needs and wishes of others this holiday season. Some employees have made it an annual tradition to select a child, veteran, or animal in need and provide gifts requested by the charitable organizations. SJDC staff contributed several wish list items, ranging from toys, assorted toiletries, winter clothing items, shoes and pet needs. "The value of private donations made by members of the public, friends of the animal community, the District Attorney's Office, the Law Office of the Public Defender, civilian staff and officers of the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center, and SJDC staff and Judges is estimated to be over $5,000" said Noel.

A small ceremony was held on Friday, December 22, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at the Bernalillo County Courthouse, Fourth Floor Atrium to present donations to the partner service organizations. The Court expressed its gratitude for the outstanding service these organizations provide to our community year-round as well as to its own court staff who generously supported the Giving Tree Project.

"The joy on their faces at the surprise gifts was priceless," commented Elinor Reiners, CEO and Program Director of the New Mexico Veterans Integration Center.

"The outpouring of community support from court staff and the public has been remarkable and humbling," said Chief Judge Nan Nash. "Thank you SJDC staff for coming together, investing in our community and making a truly meaningful impact for these charities throughout the year," said Chief Judge Nash.


Cassie & Judge WardOne of the most recognizable faces at the Bernalillo County Juvenile Justice Center belongs to Cassie, a 6-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.



​Archived News

SJDC Welcomes New Judges Cindy Leos and Jane Levy

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.

back to list

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.