We have had reports of cyber criminals imitating court telephone numbers (“spoofing”) and demanding that citizens pay money for fines or fees in cases involving relatives. These calls are not valid. New Mexico Courts will never call citizens to ask for payments of any kind.

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Second Judicial District Court

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Members of the Press:

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Thank you for your interest in the Second Judicial District Court in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Below are rules and guidelines to follow for coverage of SJDC proceedings.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact SJDC Administration at (505) 841-7525.

Second Judicial District Court Broadcast/Photo Media Policy

The Second Judicial District Court welcomes and supports media coverage of proceedings in the Courthouse.

Rule 23-107 NMRA authorizes the broadcasting, televising, photographing, and recording of court proceedings.  The Rule gives judges the discretionary authority to promote decorum, to prevent distractions and to ensure the fair administration of justice.  Reasonable safeguards ensure that this coverage does not detract from the dignity of the proceedings or otherwise interfere with a fair and impartial hearing. Consistent with Rule 23-107 NMRA, and the Court’s inherent authority to ensure the safety and security of court employees and the public, the Second Judicial District Court is establishing reasonable safeguards for broadcasting, televising, photographing, and recording in all areas within the Courthouse.

Members of the media seeking to broadcast, televise, photograph or record within the Second Judicial District Courthouse must notify Court Administration at 505-841-7425 either twenty-four (24) hours, or as soon as practicable, in advance of coverage.  Court Administration will coordinate the request with the judge and other court personnel. Court Security will not allow broadcasting, televising, photographing and recording devices into the courthouse without prior notice.  It is the responsibility of Court personnel to ensure the safety of court employees and the public and to make sure that the public access ways remain unimpeded.

For specific information about court records and hearings, or interviews with the Court, please contact SJDC Administration at (505) 841-7425.

Thank you.

Guidelines for Media Video and Photo

Please note these important guidelines when filming or taking photos within the Courthouse.

  • Do not film or take photos of jurors or prospective jurors at any time or in any area of the Courthouse.
  • Do not film or take photos of faces of juvenile defendants in Children’s Court.
  • Do not record audio of bench conferences.  Any microphones that are positioned beyond the rail must be turned off during bench conferences.
  • Do not set up or take down equipment until a recess.
  • Do not go in front of or take your equipment in front of the rail.
  • Do follow all rules set forth by the judge in the courtroom, including any rules prohibiting filming or photographing certain witnesses.
  • Do set up all equipment 15 minutes before the start of a proceeding.
  • Do tape wires or cables securely to the floor.
  • Do be aware of images that are being captured.  For example, a tight shot of a defendant may show graphic images of evidence on a nearby computer monitor in the background.
  • Do dress appropriately for a courthouse setting:
    • No shorts, T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, sunglasses or flip-flops.
  • Do use only natural light for video and still photography.
  • Do coordinate with the Court administration and the Judge’s bailiff on permissible locations for a TV camera and any microphones, the use of social media (Twitter, etc.), the use of laptops or texting during proceedings and any live coverage including an internet stream.
  • Do limit movement in the Courtroom.  Still photographers must remain seated in the same location but may relocate during a recess.
  • Do minimize distractions and wait for a recess before switching out tapes, connecting cables, unpacking or storing gear or performing other noisy activities.
  • Do use a noise-reduction device, if possible.
  • Only one TV camera and two still cameras are permitted in a courtroom.  Although the Court administration may facilitate, journalists are ultimately responsible for organizing and complying with pool agreements.

Note: These guidelines were developed by the Second Judicial District Court consistent with Supreme Court Rule 23-107, which governs broadcasting, televising, photographing and recording of proceedings.  Pursuant to Rule 23-107(A)(1), all news media coverage is subject at all times to the authority of the Judge.  Please comply with all directives issued by the Judge. 

Supreme Court Rule 23-107

NMRA 23-107. Broadcasting, televising, photographing and recording of court proceedings; guidelines.

The broadcasting, televising, photographing and recording of court proceedings in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, district and metropolitan courts of the State of New Mexico are hereby authorized in accordance with the guidelines promulgated herewith which contain safeguards to ensure that this type of media coverage shall not detract from the dignity of the court proceedings or otherwise interfere with the achievement of a fair and impartial hearing.

GUIDELINES: 

A.   Discretion of judges.  Live coverage of proceedings shall not be limited by the objection of counsel or parties, except that the court reserves to the individual courts the right to limit or deny coverage for good cause.   

(1)   Media coverage in the courts is subject at all times to the authority of the judge or judges to: (a) control the conduct of the proceedings before the court; (b) ensure decorum and prevent distractions; and (c) ensure fair administration of justice in the pending cause.   

(2)   The presiding district judge has sole and plenary discretion to exclude coverage of certain witnesses, including but not limited to the victims of sex crimes and their families, police informants, undercover agents, relocated witnesses and juveniles.   

(3)   Neither the jury nor any member of the jury may be filmed in or near the courtroom, nor shall the jury selection process be filmed.   

(4)   The judge has discretionary power to forbid coverage whenever the judge is satisfied that coverage may have a deleterious effect on the paramount right of the defendant to a fair trial.   

(5)   Audio pickup, broadcast or recording of a tender of evidence offered by a party for the purpose of determining admissibility made before the judge out of the hearing of the jury is not permitted.   

(6)   Audio pickup, broadcast, photography, televising or recording of a conference in the courtroom between members of the court, court and counsel, co-counsel or counsel and client is not permitted.   

B.   Notice.  The broadcasters, photographers and recorders shall notify the clerk of the particular court at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance of coverage of their desire to cover the trial. Each trial judge may, in the judge’s discretion, lengthen or shorten the time for advance notice for coverage of a particular trial.   

C.   Decorum.  The decorum and dignity of the court, the courtroom and the proceedings must be maintained at all times.  Court customs must be followed, including appropriate attire.  Movement in the courtroom shall be limited, except during breaks or recess.  The changing of tapes, film magazines, film and similar actions during the proceedings shall be avoided.   

D.   Standards.  The media shall maintain high journalistic standards regarding the fairness, objectivity and quality of the coverage allowed under these guidelines.   

E.   Equipment and personnel.  Unless otherwise agreed upon by the court, equipment and personnel within the courtroom or hearing room shall be limited as follows:   

(1)   All equipment shall be operated behind the rail.   

(2)   Not more than one portable television camera operated by not more than one camera person shall be permitted.  Only natural lighting shall be used.  Cameras shall be quiet and shall be placed and operated as unobtrusively as possible within the courtroom at a location approved by the court.  The cameras shall be in place at least fifteen (15) minutes before the proceedings begin.   

(3)   Not more than two audio systems shall be permitted.  All running wires shall be securely taped to the floor.  Multiple radio feeds shall be provided by a junction box.   

(4)   Not more than two still photographers, utilizing not more than one still camera each, shall be permitted.  The cameras must not produce any distracting sounds.  Only natural lighting shall be used.  Still photographers shall remain in one place during the proceedings, but they may shift positions during breaks or recess.   

(5)   Tape recorders may be used by members of the media, so long as they do not constitute a distraction during the proceedings.   

(6)   Any pooling arrangements necessary shall be the sole responsibility of the media and must be concluded prior to coverage without calling upon the court to mediate any dispute regarding appropriate media and personnel.   

F.   Inapplicability to individuals.  The privileges granted by these rules may be exercised only by persons or organizations that are part of the news media.   

G.   Objections limited.   

(1)   An appellate court shall not exercise its appellate or supervisory jurisdiction to review at the request of any news media persons or organization seeking to exercise a privilege conferred upon them by these rules, any order or ruling of any judge under these rules.   

(2)   Any party may request, or object to, cameras in the courtroom by written motion, which may be supported by affidavits, which motion shall be filed not later than fifteen (15) days prior to trial.  No other evidence shall be presented.   

The trial court shall consider the motion and grant or deny the same.  The trial judge shall state the judge’s reasons for the judge’s ruling on the record.   

H.   Impermissible use of media material.  None of the film, videotape, still photographs or audio reproductions developed during or by virtue of coverage of a judicial proceeding shall be admissible as evidence in the proceeding out of which it arose, any proceeding subsequent or collateral thereto, or upon any retrial or appeal of such proceeding.   

I.   Other courts.  The broadcasting, televising, photographing and recording of court proceedings in courts other than the appellate, district and metropolitan courts of New Mexico is prohibited.   

[As amended, effective September 1, 1989; August 17, 1999.]

The Legal Guide for Journalists was created by the State Bar of New Mexico as a reference guide for journalists who cover the legal beat.

Please Note:  This file is in .PDF format.  Click here to download Adobe Reader for free.

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Children’s Court gets new courtroom, clerk’s office

There has been a lot of construction at the Juvenile Justice Center this year, resulting in a new courtroom and a new home for the JJC Clerk’s Office.

These projects officially broke ground the first of this year, but their origins can be traced as far back as 2015, when Second Judicial District Court’s Space Needs Committee recognized the need for additional courtrooms at both JJC and the downtown courthouse.

“The committee created a plan that calls for the exploration of a second courthouse given the Court’s growth and community needs,” said Presiding Children’s Court Judge Marie Ward, “but that obviously is a long-term plan. The first goal of the Court has been to ensure that we are using the space we currently have as efficiently as possible in our two locations.”

Court Judge Marie Ward and Monica Rodriguez

With that in mind, the committee sought a way to address the immediate need for improved safety and additional courtroom space at the JJC’s current location, where six Judicial Officers—three Judges and three Special Masters—were sharing three courtrooms.  This past legislative session Children’s Court added an additional Judge.

Presiding Children’s Court Judge Marie Ward, left, and SJDC Deputy CEO Monica Rodriguez in the new courtroom at the Juvenile Justice Center. Judge Ward says the new courtroom has numerous features that make it an appropriate environment for a Children’s Court.

Ultimately, working with Bernalillo County officials, the committee devised a plan to relocate the JJC Clerk’s Office and build a new courtroom in that space. This plan, which moved the Clerk’s Office from the center of the building’s first floor to a spot near the entrance, made sense for a number of reasons.

“Having the Clerk’s Office in the center of the building made it less accessible to the public,” said Monica Rodriguez, the Court’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, “nor did the office have adequate security for constant public interaction.”

Now, the Clerk’s Office is located near the JJC’s front entrance, adjacent to the security station where Sheriff’s Deputies check in visitors. The office now also has multiple sets of doors providing extra security, and behind those doors is new, upgraded office space for the Clerk’s Office staff.

JJC clerks were amazing through this process,” Monica said. “The Clerk’s office had to be relocated to two separate spaces during part of the construction, which presented challenges, but the staff continued to provide excellent customer service. Their positive attitude through it was impressive.”

The Clerk’s Office moved to it new permanent space in mid-March, allowing construction of the new courtroom to begin shortly thereafter. The courtroom, which is almost ready to host its first hearing, is strikingly different from the other three courtrooms at JJC.

The first thing a visitor to the new courtroom might notice are the windows letting in the natural light lacking in the other JJC courtrooms. Judge Ward said the windows are one of many features in the new courtroom’s design that help to create a fitting environment for a Children’s Court.

Space to arrange tables in a circle is among the features that make the new JJC Courtroom appropriate for a Children’s Court.

Other features include room for arranging tables in circular fashion, and a modular jury box that can be removed to allow for even more open seating space for hearings in which juries are not involved.

JJC Courtroom

This design will be especially helpful for hearings related to sensitive matters, such as child welfare cases, Judge Ward said. “It will allow for creating a more trauma-informed setting, putting people in a circle where the parties can feel more like equal partners in a discussion rather than having seating dictated by the courtroom layout,” she said. “This is a much more appropriate, and much safer, environment for hearings in which people sometimes, understandably, become emotional.”

Judge Ward credits the Bernalillo County Facilities staff as well as the project’s architects, Studio Southwest, and Anchor Built, the construction contractor, with bringing this environment to life. “They really grasped our concerns about maintaining courthouse safety while also creating a comfortable environment,” Judge Ward said. “The contractor was amazing, even operating under COVID-19 constraints. There was excellent communication throughout this project between the county, contractor and the court in creating this space that was so desperately needed.”

Judge Ward is extremely grateful to the Bernalillo County Commission for providing funding for this project, County Manager Julie Morgas Baca, Mary Murnane, the county’s Director of Fleet and Facilities Management and Cliff Youngberg, the county’s Building Management and Maintenance Program Manager, who steered the project to completion.

She also wants to acknowledge all SJDC staff who had a part in the project—including former Chief Judge Nan Nash and former CEO Jim Noel, whose early advocacy of the project helped “fulfill a great need for the public and court staff.”

 JJC Courtroom Project Team

Meet SJDC’s two new judges

Though they have different backgrounds, the Second Judicial District Court’s two new judges are approaching this next stage of their legal careers with the same goal in mind: to administer justice with a sense of compassion and fairness.

On July 2, 2020, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham appointed Lucy Boyadjian Solimon and Clara Marissa Moran to fill two newly created seats on this court’s bench. Chief Judge Stan Whitaker administered their oaths of office—officially making them judges—on July 27, 2020. They both are presiding over cases in the Criminal Division. 

Both new judges graduated from the University Of Mexico School Of Law, but their paths to law school—and ultimately to  the Second Judicial District Court—are quite different.

From Lebanon to Albuquerque 

Judge Solimon was born in Lebanon, and immigrated to the United States with her parents, who are Armenian, when she was six years old. She grew up in California’s San Fernando Valley and earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Occidental College, where she met her husband, Justin Solimon, a Native of Laguna Pueblo. She then earned a second bachelor’s degree in Spanish from UNM

Since graduating from UNM law school in 2007, Judge Solimon has worked as both a defense attorney and prosecutor, and has State, Federal, and Administrative court experience. 

She started her career in the New Mexico Public Defender’s Office helping indigent clients. She spent some time in private practice, including running her own practice, serving diverse clients throughout New Mexico. She later served the Pueblo of Laguna as a Special Assistant US Attorney prosecuting violent crimes committed against women and children on American Indian reservations throughout the various Pueblos and Nations in New Mexico. At the time of her appointment to the bench, Judge Solimon was the Enforcement Bureau Chief and Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of New Mexico where she oversaw investigations and prosecutions with respect to violations of the Workers’ Compensation Act and Regulations.

Judge Solimon

Judge Solimon’s unique experience as a defense attorney and prosecutor, working  with diverse defendants and victims, has given her the ability to understand the nuance and outlook experienced on both sides and elicits her appreciation for balance and fairness. “This experience will allow me to listen to competing interests with an open mind, to be fair and impartial,” Judge Solimon said. As a presiding Judge, she will continue to ensure that our criminal justice system is fair and reliable, keeping in mind the safety of our community and ensuring constitutional rights to due process of law.  

“I am the first in my family to go to college and law school,” she said. “At times, I thought I would end up doing non-profit work focused on non-violence and education. I really think early intervention can help some people.”

Judge Solimon’s dedication to public service is grounded in her own life experience and she is confident that her personal and professional experiences are an asset in her position as Judge. She is proud to call New Mexico her home and to serve the community.    

A native New Mexican

Judge Moran is a New Mexico native. She was born in Albuquerque and moved to Las Cruces with her family in second grade. She left New Mexico to attend college in Maryland, and returned to get her law degree at UNM.

Judge Moran

She spent her entire career as a prosecutor, most recently serving as Chief Deputy Attorney General overseeing the    Criminal Affairs Division of the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office. Though she prosecuted a number of high-profile cases, she is ready for the very different role of a judge.

“I am honored and humbled by the whole experience,” Judge Moran said of her appointment. “This is a way to continue my public service. I want to bring compassion to job, and I hope to work with district attorneys and public defenders in a way that inspires them to remain in public service.”

Judge Moran also said 15 years as a prosecutor has shown her that judges make decisions that impact peoples’ lives. “I want to be able to distinguish between when someone can benefit from rehabilitation versus when someone is dangerous and needs to be incarcerated,” she said. 

Judge Moran said her life experiences, which include being raised by a school counselor and a physician, fuel her drive for public service.  “I am really thrilled to give back to the community that I have lived in and invested in,” she said.

Both on the job and off, Judge Moran will have the support of her close-knit family, including her husband, Richard Moran, and her parents who moved to Albuquerque from Las Cruces to be near their 10 and 11-year-old granddaughters. 

She also said whenever she takes the bench, she will heed the advice of a veteran Second Judicial District Court Judge, the Hon. Clay Campbell, who once told her, “Never forget that it is about people.” 

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Family Court Issues Guidance for Following Parenting Plans During the Pandemic

Statue of Lady Justice

In an effort to address common questions that are arising from parents trying to follow public health orders and their parenting plan and attorneys’ concerns about court procedure, we are providing direction in this letter.

Treatment Court teams taking extra steps to support clients during the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a life-altering experience for everyone. But for some people—including some clients in the SJDC’s Treatment Courts—it has been almost life-shattering.

This population has been among the hardest hit by job loss, food shortages and other hardships. For some of them, these changes threatened efforts to recover from the addictions or psychological trauma underlying the behavior that brought them into the criminal justice system.

Recognizing these facts, the SJDC Treatment Court teams have taken extra steps to support their clients.

“When we are talking about Young Adult Court, Mental Health Court, and even the Juvenile Treatment Court, these are people who are in the very early stages of recovery,” said Coral Mendez-Flores, the Young Adult Court Lead Worker.

Article Treatment Court

“We were seeing people in fear. Some of them had lost jobs, then they had stay-at-home orders forcing them into isolation. We saw a few relapses,” added Tanya Tijerina, Clinical Operations Manager for the Treatment Courts. “So, we had to find a way to stay in close contact with them.”

Like nearly everyone else in the pandemic, the team turned to technology to help maintain that contact, scheduling Google Meet sessions to continue the face-to-face contact that normally comes with in-person visits. Google Meet also is being used to host the group therapy sessions that are a critical component of treatment courts.

Through these sessions, the team quickly realized that many of their clients needed more than just emotional support. “When you’re in the early stages of recovery, you’re basically learning how to be an adult,” Tanya said. “We’re also talking about a population that is not accustomed following the news. So, when COVID hit, they didn’t quite know what it was. ”

In response, the team developed an educational program to help clients understand the dangers the virus poses and how to protect themselves and their families. That program revealed the fact that many clients did not have basics things they needed to survive the pandemic.

“Everything shut down so quickly that even our court staff, as mature individuals, were having trouble finding some basic necessities,” Tanya said. “It was even more difficult for our clients, many of whom don’t have transportation and have to take a bus to the store.”

Truckloads of donations

Staff members from the three Treatment Courts started donating items to distribute to the clients. Additional donations quickly came from the Courts’ primary treatment provider, Perfectly Imperfect, and deputies from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department. “We literally gathered truckloads of Kleenex, bathroom tissue, hygiene products, cleaning supplies and other items to create care packages for the clients,” Tanya said.

Coral, as the staff member with the most regular contact with the clients, take notes during her meetings with them, to determine what things individual clients need. That information is now used to make sure the care packages that each individual receives addresses their specific situation. As a result, some care packages include food, personal protection equipment and baby supplies.

Tanya joins staff from Perfectly Imperfect and BCSO deputies each Friday to distribute the care packages and talk with the clients. “We call them on the phone to come outside, leave the package on their porch, and talk to them from the curb to ensure we remain at least six feet apart at all times.” Tanya said. “We talk about their mental health or any other problems they might have.”

One such conversation revealed a client’s need for emergency dental work, which the team was able to help him arrange. Other clients got information on how to apply for unemployment, housing assistance or other benefits.

All of the clients are receiving emotional support. One week that support included boxes of Little Caesars pizzas. Another week it included personalized greeting and gifts cards from Judge Cindy Leos, who presides over Young Adult Court.

This extra support is helping clients stay on track with their respective programs. “We have seen increased communication and honesty from clients, even from those who are struggling,” Tanya said. “They are telling us that they need help with depression or drug cravings, because they realize we are there to help them, not to catch them doing something wrong.”

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Screening Procedures at the Second Judicial District Court During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Q: Why is screening taking place?
A: The Second Judicial District Court (SJDC) is committed to taking precautions to safeguard our employees and members of the public. In accordance with CDC guidelines and recommendations, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued Order No. 20-85-00023 which requires screening at the entrances to our courthouses.  This screening process offers the best way to minimize risk of exposure and infection for our employees and members of the public. 

Q: Who is being screened at the SJDC?
A: Every visitor and employee will be screened at all SJDC locations (400 Lomas Blvd. NW, 5100 Second St. NW).

Q: Why am I required to wear a face mask?
All individuals entering the SJDC are required to wear a face mask in accordance with the New Mexico Supreme Court Order No. 20-8500-017.  If you do not have a face mask one will be provided to you at no charge.  Face masks can slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. This is part of our continued effort to protect our employees and visitors from exposure to COVID-19.

If you refuse to wear a face mask you will be denied entry to the courthouse. 

Q: Are you unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition?
Generally the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits places of public accommodation having restrictions that would limit access to an individual with a disability. However, the ADA does allow restrictions when an individual would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others. COVID-19 is currently considered a direct threat. If you are unable to wear a face mask due to a medical condition, please contact the SJDC’s Title II ADA Coordinator, Lisa Y. Schatz-Vance, at 505-841-7615.

Q: What happens if I screen positive for symptoms of COVID-19?
A: At the point of screening, visitors and employees who have a fever (100.4 degrees) or respiratory symptoms, or responses to screening questions that indicate an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19, will be denied entry to the courthouse. 

Q: How often will I need to be screened?
A: Court visitors and employees will be screened every time you enter the courthouse.   

Q: Is social distancing being practiced in the screening lines?
A: The screening site has quite a bit of room to encourage social distancing while visitors and employees are waiting to be screened.

Q: Who can see the information that I am submitting through the screening process? With whom will it be shared?
Information submitted through the screening questions will be treated as confidential information. 

Q: How long will the daily screenings be in effect?
The daily screening requirement will be in effect until further notice.

If you have questions about the screening procedures taking place at the SJDC, please contact Court Administration at 505-841-7425.

 

Two Court Employees Test Positive for COVID-19

Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 12, 2020 — The Second Judicial District has learned that two of its employees tested positive for COVID-19 after taking advantage of the voluntary testing the New Mexico Department of Health is offering to all New Mexico Judiciary employees.

Bernalillo County Courthouse

Neither of these individuals have exhibited any COVID-19 symptoms. However, because of the positive tests, both of them have gone into self-quarantine. The court also has notified everyone who these individuals were known to have come into contact with recently, and advised them to be tested for the virus. Those individuals are self-quarantining as well pending the results of their own COVID-19 tests.

In addition, the Bernalillo County maintenance staff has thoroughly cleaned and disinfected all areas of the courthouse. The court will remain open during its normal business hours.

The court already has multiple safety protocols in place, including conducting remote hearings and having the majority of its workforce working remotely. All employees and members of the public who must come to the courthouse are required to wear face masks and maintain the proper social distance. The court also has installed hand-sanitizing stations on all courthouse floors. The court will continue to monitor the situation and take any action necessary to protect the health of its employees and the public.