Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Judicial Temperament

Nothing is more important when deciding what makes a good judge then judicial temperament. Our judges are faced everyday in our court system with many different and often difficult cases and people. Some respect the court system while turning to it in times of need and others could care less therefore they are more then happy to show their disrespect openly.

New judges are faced with the difficult task of hearing a great number of cases due to the limited resources provided our local court system. We all know that the Second District Court could use another 10 judges just to provide the services that a population the size of Bernalillo County requires but due to budget limitations the state at this time cannot afford to provide those judges for public safety.

We are now looking at four new judges who will face a partisan election come 2010 so I feel that the public should be provided with as much information about our new judges as we can give them.

Today I visited the courtroom of Judge Alan Malott who appears to thrive on the challenges thrown his way by our current court system. He is respectful to all involved in the process and acts thrilled to be providing a quality service to the public. His temperament is one of claim respect and thoughtful contemplation of the facts put forth by the lawyers in his courtroom. He is a hard judge to anger and works hard to strike a fair balance between all parties concerned in a case.

The case I saw today was a short one due to the fact that the individual being sued was a ex-DA who did not feel the need even to show up for the hearing. The judge pointed out that the case was in its fifth year and that there was most likely little hope of any financial award due to the fact that the individual in question had allegedly admitted to the other lawyer that he had not filed a tax return in the last eight years and at current was living off his mother. An order to show cause was issued in the case and it was clear that if this ex-DA did not make an appearance that he would be faced with jail time for his lack of respect for the system he had once worked for in this state. One does have to wonder what would cause such a change in someones behavior in the first place.

The lawyer present at the hearing was an older gentlemen who just could not bring himself to understand how a younger lawyer could behave in such a poor and disrespectful manner toward our court system. He was clearly upset and angered by this defendants behavior both towards himself and the courts.

This case is just one example of what faces our new judges on a daily bases but there are a few bright moments in a judges day. The next act was for Judge Malott to marry a couple a military gentleman in his dress uniform and his beautiful young blonde bride.

I saw the happy couple kissing in the hall just before they entered the court room. I told Judge Malott that he had better marry them before they started the honeymoon early. It is task such as this that lift the spirits of many of our local judges. Judge Malott has married hundreds of couples since he took the bench. Community service is another way in which our judges see the more gentle side of our society. While they are required to stay natural it would be a shame to force these caring individuals to completely isolate themselves from the community they are task to serve.