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)


Second Judicial District Court

Tribunal del Segundo Distrito Judicial

English Español

Most Popular Pages

Páginas más visitadas

News Updates

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.”

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.

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.”


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’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.

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.” 

Click here to View PDF Version



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.

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.

“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.”

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.


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.

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.

Just before the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic, SJDC Human Resources Assistant II Janet Van-Why and her husband Ray took off on an once-in-a-lifetime adventure to the remote continent of Antarctica.

It was everything they expected—and more. Especially the trip home, which involved two stints in quarantine, multiple canceled flights, a lock-down-defying drive to the airport and last-minute passage on a humanitarian flight from South America to the United States.

With this trip, the Van-Whys completed their longtime goal of visiting all seven continents. Their journey started with a flight from Albuquerque bound for Buenos Aires, Argentina on March 6—five days before the New Mexico Department of Health confirmed the state’s first positive COVID-19 test.     

By March 11, when Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered a statewide lockdown, the Van-Whys had taken a cruise ship through the infamous Drake Passage, the waterway that connects Antarctica with the rest of world. 

The only reminder of the virus’s existence was the temperature check required of each passenger before boarding the boat for the trip to an area where emergency medical care would not be readily available.

The trip through the passage was smooth. “We got what is called the Drake Lake,” Janet said, meaning the water was calm.

Once through the passage, Janet said she was stunned by both the size and beauty of this place that few humans ever see. At times, the ship stopped to let its 199 passengers explore the area on foot. At other times, some of the passengers—the Van-Whys included—took tours on small inflatable boats. In both cases, they saw abundant wildlife including numerous varieties of penguins, seals and whales. “Some of the wildlife was curious, and came in closer for a look at us,” Janet said. “At one point, I think we were about 30 feet from a humpback whale.”

On March 14, news from civilization shattered the group’s solitude. “Our expedition leader had been informed that the Argentina would be going into full lockdown on March 16 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” Janet said. “Travel out of the country would be difficult after the lockdown, so we needed to pull up anchor and head back immediately.”

This is where the trip got rocky. On the return trip through the passage, the “Drake Lake” had turned into the “Drake Shake”, with the rough water making many passengers seasick. “Ray and I fared pretty well due to our travel sickness remedies,” Janet said, “but many others had a really rough time.”

Once the ship docked in Ushuaia, the first port on the southern tip of South America, the crew held a briefing in which passengers got some good news and some bad news. The bad news was the Argentinian government was requiring everyone entering the country to quarantine for 14 days. That meant they could not leave the ship. The good news was the days they had spent in the remote environs of Antarctica would be counted as quarantine time. So, they only had to spend five days confined to the ship. Still, that meant they would not be able to leave the country before the lockdown.

As the days passed, travel into and out of Argentina was further restricted, causing people on the ship to spend much of their time trying to rebook flights home. When they were finally allowed to leave the ship, the reality of a world besieged by a deadly virus quickly set in.

“The first thing we noticed was port officials with masks and guns,” Janet said. The group loaded into busses that traveled, with police escort, to the Ushuaia airport where they were met by more armed police and medical personnel in full protective gear. After a medical screening, they boarded a plane for a three-hour, almost totally silent, flight to Buenos Aires.

Upon landing in Bueno Aires, the group sat on the plane for an additional hour waiting for medical personnel to arrive and screen each passenger. Finally, they were transported to a hotel where they would be quarantined—including no contact with fellow passengers—for the night. Food was delivered via room service with a knock on door and disposable containers left on the other side.

It took another two days—and two trips to the airport—for the Van-Whys to get a ticket on a humanitarian flight. All other flights out of country had been canceled. On one of those trips to the airport, Janet got a business card from a taxi driver who defied a lockdown order and came to the Van-Whys’ hotel to get them to airport just in time to make their flight.

Upon arriving in Albuquerque, Janet self-isolated at home an additional 14 days before returning to work. Through all the trans-continental travel, Janet and Ray stayed virus free. “We really took all of the precautions along the way, wearing masks, washing our hands,” she said. We have 12 grandchildren and we wanted to protect them.”

Sitting at her desk in the SJDC courthouse, Janet admitted to somewhat nervous about going to Antarctica, “Mainly because I am not a big fan of the cold. Looking back on it now, though, I think this was my favorite trip.” 

Albuquerque, New Mexico, May 7, 2020 — The Second Judicial District Court’s Center for Self-Help has modified its operations to continue to serving individuals dealing with legal issues without the assistance of an attorney during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The center has closed the window in the courthouse where members of the public normally come for assistance. However, it has opened additional phone lines for reaching self-help center staff, in addition to assigning additional staff to respond to emails seeking help.

The Center for Self Help provides forms that are required for individuals to file or respond to court actions in civil legal cases. The center’s staff can tell individuals what information the court requires on the form for a case to proceed. The staff does not provide legal advice.

The center assists more than 13,500 individuals each year.

“The Center for Self-Help is one of the most vital functions of this court. The number of people the center serves each year is an indication of the problem citizens have when it comes to affording legal representation in civil matters,” said Second Judicial District Court Chief Judge Stan Whitaker. “The center’s staff should be commended for finding creative ways to continue serving the public during this current crisis.”

While COVID-19 social distancing measures are in place, the Center for Self-Help is offering the following options for receiving assistance:

  • If you have a phone and/or internet access:
    • Please call us from 9 AM until 4 PM, Monday-Friday at one of the following numbers:

      (505) 841-6702

      (505) 841-7579

      (505) 841-5409

    • Or email us at
    • For assistance in Spanish please call us from 9 AM until 4 PM, Monday-Thursday at 505-841-5413.
    • Or email us at
  • If you do not have a phone or internet access, there are phones located at the Second Judicial District Court that you can use to speak with a Self-Help staff member.  Please use the phone located on the first floor at Self-Help Window 1 in Room 119 or the phone on the first floor in the Jury Division in Room 127.

  • You don’t have to come to Court to get legal forms/packets! Legal forms and packets are available for free by e-mailing us at, and on our website at

  • Legal forms/packets are also temporarily free of charge and available at the Second Judicial District Court on the first floor in Room 119, near the information window.

The Court Clerk’s Office remains open to accept forms for filing.

Please be advised that if you intend to submit exhibits for your upcoming hearing they must be submitted at least 48 hours prior to your scheduled hearing. You must submit a copy to the Court and a copy to the opposing party or attorney.

You can submit your paper Exhibits to Please note if we print out paper exhibits (i.e. text messages, photos, etc.) they will be in black and white.

If you have electronic exhibits they must be provided on a USB flash drive or CD to the Court. You can also include any paper exhibits on the flash drive, please note these will not be returned to you. You may also deliver your exhibits to the Court Monday through Friday from 8 to 12 and 1 to 5 in room 274, or you can mail them to the DV Division, P.O. Box 488, Albuquerque, NM 87103.

If Exhibits are not submitted to the Court and the opposing party at least 48 hours in advance, they may not be allowed at the hearing.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call the Domestic Violence Division at (505) 841-6737 or send an email to

During the COVID-19 crisis, the Second Judicial Court will not require notary public certifications on applications to waive fees for filing a legal action, when those applications are based on the individual’s inability to pay.

The waived fees typically include court filing costs and the cost of having notice of the action served on the opposing parties. Waiver of these fees is known as granting the party “free process.” The granting of free process, which can happen in civil or domestic relations cases, requires filling out an application verifying that the applicant does not have sufficient income to pay the filing fees. Under normal circumstances, a notary public would have to certify that the individual submitting the application is also the person whose signature appears on the form.

“The temporary suspension of the requirement to have these applications notarized is a recognition of the fact that a lot of the places where someone would go to have a form notarized are closed during this crisis,” said Second Judicial District Court Chief Judge Stan Whitaker. “We don’t want that to prevent people from having access to the court.”

Free Process application packets can be obtained in the following ways:

       •    Downloading it from the court’s website
       •    Emailing the court’s Center for Self-Help and Dispute Resolution at 
       •    Picking it up in person on the first floor of the Second Judicial District courthouse, 400 Lomas, Blvd. NW.

You also can call the Center for Self-Help and Dispute Resolution with questions at 505-841-6702. 

The Second Judicial District Court has implemented new screening procedures to prevent individuals who may have contracted the COVID-91 virus from entering the courthouse.

Signs are now in front of the courthouse, at 400 Lomas, NW, instructing people to ask themselves three questions before entering. The questions are:

  1. Have you been in contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19?
  2. Over the past two weeks, have you developed flu-like symptoms, such as a cough, a fever, or shortness of breath?
  3. Have you traveled outside of New Mexico within the last thirty days to any high-risk area?

No one who can answer “yes” to any of those questions should enter the courthouse. Instead, they can look at the second sign posted at the entrance listing phone numbers for all divisions of the court. Individuals can call the appropriate number to find out how to resolve for which they were coming to court.

These procedures also are in effect at the Second Judicial District Children’s Court Building at 5100 Second St. NW, as well as the offices housing the court’s Pretrial Services programs.

“These screening procedures are part of our ongoing effort to balance public safety with the need for the court to fulfill its constitutional duty of ensuring that all individual members of the public have access to the judicial, even in times of crisis,” said Second Judicial District Chief Judge Stan Whitaker.

Chief Judge Whitaker issued an administrative order outlining the new screening procedures on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. He also issued an order detailing additional precautionary measures the court is taking to guard against the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The precautionary measures mirror those ordered by the New Mexico Supreme Court and include:

  • Suspending criminal jury and civil jury trials that have not started.
  • Conducting all court proceedings in a manner to minimize contact among people in the courtroom. This includes, when possible, conducting proceedings by telephone and video to eliminate the need for attorneys and litigants to be physically present in a courtroom.
  • Limiting the number of inmates transported from jails to courthouses for hearings.
  • Implementing enhanced cleaning procedures in the courthouse.
  • Suspending out-of-state work travel for court employees and requiring a 14-day self-isolation period for employees and judges who have traveled to a COVID-19 high-risk area, and imposing a self-isolation period for employees and staff who travel out-of-state on personal business starting March 18.

For updates on the Second Judicial District Court’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the court’s website at or follow the court’s Twitter feed @SJDCNEWMEXICO.

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

​Archived News

Court's Downtown Location Closing Early on Friday, July 31, 2020

The Second Judicial District Court's downtown location will close at 3:00 PM Friday, July 31, 2020 due to a public rally scheduled for the downtown area later in the day.

The Court has been advised that the rally could generate a large crowd.  Therefore, the Court's Chief Judge Stan Whitaker decided to close the Court early out of concern that large crowds and possible street closures could impede employees' ability to leave the area promptly and safely at the normal 5:00 PM closing time.

Please note that the Second Judicial District's Children's Court at 5100 Second Street NW in Albuquerque, NM will remain open until 5:00 PM.

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.