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

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.


Contact: Sidney Hill
Phone: (505) 841-7504

Second Judicial District Court closing because of employee’s positive COVID-19 test

Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 18, 2020 — The Second Judicial District Courthouse will be closed for the next two days for cleaning after a court employee tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are taking every step we can to protect the health and safety of the public and court employees” said Second Judicial District Chief Judge Stan Whitaker.

The court announced last Friday that two other employees had tested positive. All three employees had taken part of a voluntary court employee testing organized with the Department of Health. None of the employees have exhibited any symptoms of the virus.

“With the first two tests we isolated the areas of the courthouse those employees had been, and those areas were thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Given an additional positive test, we are taking extra precautions and working with the Bernalillo County maintenance staff to bring in a cleaning service to do an enhanced deep cleaning of the entire courthouse. This comprehensive cleaning necessitates the closing of the courthouse for two days,” said Chief Judge Stan Whitaker.

All employees who have tested positive are in self-quarantine. Any individuals who those employees have come in contact with have been notified and are required to self-quarantine as well.

The Second Judicial District Court’s downtown location at 400 Lomas Blvd., NW will remain closed all day on Thursday June 18, 2020 and Friday June 19, 2020. It will reopen on Monday June 22, 2020 at 8:00 AM.

The Juvenile Justice Center, which houses the court’s Children’s Division, remains open for business. Any court filings that cannot be filed electronically through Friday can be filed at that location, 5100 Second Street, NW.

Precautions in place

When the downtown courthouse reopens, COVID-safe precautionary measures will remain in place. Those measures include:

  • Masks required for anyone who enters the courthouse, including judges, lawyers and court staff.
  • Health screening and temperature checks for all people entering the courthouse.
  • Enforcing a minimum six-foot physical distancing to separate people, as recommended by public health authorities to control the spread of the virus.
  • 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.
  • Enhanced cleaning procedures in the courthouse.
  • Reducing the number of people who are in the courthouse on a daily basis by having all employees who are able work from home.

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.



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

The Second Judicial District Family Court is asking parties operating under child-custody and timesharing orders to collaborate on ways to make those arrangements work without court intervention during the COVID-19 crisis.

The court first made that request in a memo distributed to family law attorneys on March 23, 2020, the day before Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued the statewide Stay-at-Home Order. 

“We know that our Governor is going to announce a Stay-At-Home Order to further combat this pandemic.  We are asking that attorneys and litigants work diligently to find agreements regarding custody and timesharing exchange Orders,” the memo reads.

“These are trying times for everyone, the court included. We are limited in our ability to hold hearings,” said Debra Ramirez, Presiding Judge of the Second Judicial District Family Court. “Of course, we will hold emergency hearings when necessary, but we hope families can come together to navigate these issues on their own until this crisis passes.”

The court’s March 23 memo on this matter is available here.


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.

The New Mexico Supreme Court has suspended all criminal jury trials that have not started and imposed additional precautionary measures against the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

New Mexico’s appellate, district, metropolitan and magistrate courts remain open.

The Court previously suspended civil jury trials. Criminal jury trials, which are not under way, will be suspended until April 30 or further notice by the Court. Presiding judges have the discretion to proceed with a criminal jury trial if there is an exceptional circumstance.

“The precautionary measures imposed by the Judiciary today will provide additional safeguards for all New Mexicans while allowing necessary court functions to continue,” Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura said. “Especially during a public health emergency, courts must not close because they deliver vital services required in our justice system to ensure community safety.”

“Courts play a critical role in our society ensuring compliance with the rule of law. This includes hearing the initial pleas of those arrested and charged with crimes, making constitutionally required decisions on the pretrial detention of defendants and issuing restraining orders to protect victims of domestic violence. These are among the crucial functions the Judiciary will continue to provide New Mexicans with necessary public health precautions at courthouses,” Chief Justice Nakamura said.

Other than jury trials, all other court proceedings will continue with appropriate precautions in place for those who must visit and work in courthouses.

Newly imposed measures by the Judiciary will:

  • Temporarily suspend the ability of lawyers to excuse a judge from presiding over a criminal and civil case. Suspending the peremptory excusal rules allows courts to better manage their caseloads within precautionary directives and distribute cases among all available judges.
  • Encourage judges to use their discretion to conduct all court appearances, such as arraignments and plea proceedings, by telephone and video to eliminate the need for attorneys and litigants to be physically present in a courtroom.
  • Require courts to screen visitors to courthouses and deny access to people exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or who have traveled to a COVID-19 high-risk area.
  • Allow local courts to accept case filings by email or fax from self-represented litigants.
  • Permit local courts to allow lawyers to file by email or fax for case types that currently cannot be submitted electronically.
  • Tighten travel restrictions on judicial employees and judges to require a 14-day self-isolation period for those who travel out-of-state for personal reasons. The courts previously halted all work-related out-of-state travel.

The Court today authorized municipal courts to close and previously allowed county probate courts to close.

The Judiciary previously restricted the number of people who gather in any courthouse location, including courtrooms and hallways, to no more than 25 to maintain appropriate social distancing as recommended by public health authorities. That is more restrictive than the current requirements of the state’s public health emergency order prohibiting gatherings of 100 or more people.

A Summary of the Court’s action related to COVID-19 is available here. The Supreme Court’s orders on precautionary measures and judicial employee travel are available via the following links:

The Second Judicial District Court’s Pro Bono Committee has canceled its next two Civil and Family Law Clinics due to concerns related to the coronavirus.

While there is no evidence that the virus has affected anyone in the court, the Pro Bono Committee is taking this step out of an abundance of caution. The Pro Bono Committee is comprised of judges and staff from the Second Judicial Court and staff from New Mexico Legal Aid.

The Civil and Family Law Clinics, at which citizens get free consultations with attorneys, normally take place on the first and third Wednesdays of each month at the Second Judicial District Courthouse, 400 Lomas, NW, in Albuquerque.

The cancellations apply to the Family Law Clinic scheduled for March 18 and the Civil Law Clinic scheduled for April 1.   

“This is not what we want to do given that the need for legal assistance does not go down during a pandemic,” said Second Judicial District Family Court Judge Jane Levy, who also co-chairs the Pro Bono Committee. “But for the safety of the public and the staff of the court and Legal Aid, we need to skip remainder of March and the first clinic in April. We hope to resume the regular clinic schedule after that.”

Additional Measures in Place

In addition to these steps at the Second Judicial District Court, State Supreme Court Justice Judith K. Nakamura has announced measures that courts across New Mexico are taking to guard against the potential spread of the Coronavirus.

“The Judiciary’s responsibility to ensure constitutional protections are available to those who need them has been especially important during difficult times in our history,” Chief Justice Nakamura said. “We are working closely with state and local governments and taking steps to ensure that courthouses are safe for jurors, litigants, lawyers, judicial employees, judges and all members of the public.”
Among the measures directed by the Supreme Court:

  • Courts will limit the number of people summoned to jury duty. Typically, courts will limit jury pools to no more than 25 people. If additional jurors are needed, courts will keep them in separate rooms even if it requires lawyers to separately question jury pools.

  • Jurors who have traveled to areas with a high concentration of confirmed coronavirus cases should contact their court before reporting for jury duty. Jurors who are ill will be immediately released and sent home

  • Judges will postpone civil jury trials that have not yet started unless there are exceptional circumstances.

  • Judges will conduct all proceedings in a way that minimizes contact among people in the courtroom including the use of telephone and technology.

  • Criminal proceedings will continue.

  • Out-of-state work travel is suspended for judicial employees and judges.

  • The Judiciary has limited the number of inmates that may be transported from jails to courthouses for hearings.

  • Courts are working with those responsible for cleaning and maintaining courthouses to ensure compliance with enhanced cleaning requirements.

The Chief Justice strongly encourages people who need to visit courthouses to follow the recommendations of health officials to protect themselves and others from the spread of coronavirus. Those include washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and maintaining a safe social distance from others.

“Our courts will continue to carefully monitor developments related to the coronavirus and will take additional steps as necessary to minimize public health risks of New Mexicans who require justice services,” said Chief Justice Nakamura.

Click here to View PDF Version

Supreme Court Justice Shannon Bacon and Second Judicial District Chief Judge Stan Whitaker were among the dignitaries who spoke at the official dedication of “A View from Gold Mountain,” the sculpture erected as a monument to New Mexico’s Asian American Community.

The sculpture, which stands on the west side of the Second Judicial District Courthouse, was formally dedicated on January 11, 2020, following an eight-year effort spearheaded by Dr. Siu Wong, president of the Albuquerque Chapter of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance.

After gaining financial support from state and county officials, Wong was tabbed to head a committee that issued 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 committee unanimously chose “A View from Gold Mountain,” a multi-piece sculpture created by the artistic team of Cheryll Leo-Gwin and Stewart Wong.

The artists said they considered the history of the Yee Shun case, as well of the experiences of all Chinese Americans of that era, in both creating and naming the sculpture.

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,” Leo-Gwin said. “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.”

At the dedication, Dr. Wong said since the project to secure the monument began it has “evolved to represent and be inclusive of our diverse society and population in New Mexico and the nation.”

Judge Whitaker echoed that sentiment, saying the sculpture celebrates the “resilience, tenacity and redemption power” of the Asian American spirit, as well as the spirit of all groups who at one time were intentionally marginalized.

Justice Bacon said it is fitting the monument recognizes a historic legal ruling issued in a New Mexico court, as the state continues to be on the cutting-edge of civil rights law. She referred to the New Mexico Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in State v. Zamora that said courts must find interpreters for individuals who speak a language other than English, when those individuals are called for jury service.

“New Mexico, as in Territory v. Yee Shun, was once again on the cutting edge as the first state to recognize this civil right,” Justice Bacon said.

Leo-Gwin said several aspects of the sculpture speak to the idea of various cultures uniting. She pointed, for instance, to a braid that runs down the center of the plumb bob that is the sculpture’s centerpiece. She said the braid represents the hairstyle that many Chinese Americans wore during the 1880s. “But bigger than that,” she said, “it represents all of our cultures braided together. That is the backbone of the sculpture and the backbone of the country.”

Click here to view a video from the dedication ceremony.

The Second Judicial District courthouse bustled with activity on a late-November Saturday morning. Judges presided over hearings, but they were not the somber proceedings that typically take place in courtrooms.

These hearings included children carrying balloons and teddy bears, smiles, laughs and hugs—and all parties left the courtroom happy. That is what happens on National Adoption Day—the day courts across the country host simultaneous large-scale adoption events. The goal is raising awareness of the 125,000 children in foster care nationwide waiting to find loving, permanent homes.

National Adoption Day started in 2000 when courts in nine cities opened their doors to finalize and celebrate adoptions of children in foster care. In 2019, National Adoption Day was Saturday, November 23. More than 400 Adoption Day events took place across the country, including the one in New Mexico’s Second Judicial District Court.

“Presiding over adoption hearings is one of the most rewarding things I do as a judge,” said Marie Ward, presiding judge of the Second Judicial District Children’s Court. “I am very grateful to be able to participate with these children and these families for such an incredible thing as creating a forever family.”

An inspiring event

Judge Ward was one of six judges who presided over hearings during the Second Judicial District’s Adoption Day event. “We work hard throughout the year to finalize adoptions, creating permanent homes for as many children as possible,” Judge Ward said. “But National Adoption Day allows the larger community to come together around that effort. We also hope that seeing the joy in the faces of adopted children and their families will inspire others who may not have considered fostering and adopting before to open their hearts and homes to the many children still waiting to be adopted.”

People appear to be getting that message. The Second Judicial District Court finalized more than 90 adoptions on National Adoption Day 2019, nearly doubling the number of 56 adoptions during its 2018 event.

The adoptive parents included Nicolle Wallace. She was a foster parent to five children who—after National Adoption Day—now officially call her mom. “I started out fostering children, then decided I wanted to adopt,” Wallace said. It was obvious from watching the interaction among them that the time Wallace cared for this brood as a foster parent had made them a real family.

“It has been great to watch their personal growth,” Wallace said. “This day has been a long time coming, but it is wonderful. I am really blessed; they are all really good kids.”

Albuquerque, New Mexico, December 6, 2019 — The Honorable Cindy Leos of the Second Judicial District Court has been named 2019 Judge of the Year by the Albuquerque Bar Association.

In announcing the award, the ABA said its selection committee reviewed several nominations, and “in the end, Judge Leos’s efforts this year presiding over Young Adult Court made her the unanimous choice for her impact on the community.”

Young Adult Court is an innovative program established in 2017 in response to research that shows humans’ reasoning ability is not fully formed until the age of 25, and many individuals in this age group who commit crimes can turn their lives around if given the proper support. The program is a partnership among the Second Judicial District Court, the Offices of the District Attorney, the Public Defender, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department and several agencies that provide substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling and other support services. The court is proving successful at helping young people address issues—such as drug abuse and lack of mental health treatment—that are driving some of the crime in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.

The program takes 18 to 24 months to complete, during which time participants must engage in treatment, attend weekly court sessions, provide random urinalysis samples and demonstrate a willingness to make positive changes in their lives. To date, three individuals have graduated from Young Adult Court—all of whom have quit drug habits that proved to be an underlying cause of their criminal activity. Twenty-two other individuals are currently in the program, with an additional 15 undergoing the screening process.

“It was clear from her first day on the bench that Cindy Leos was going to be an outstanding judge,” said Stan Whitaker, Chief Judge of the Second Judicial District Court. “She has demonstrated day after day that she has a clear understanding of her role as a judge and the need to make sure that litigants on both the prosecution and defense side of a case are treated respectfully and fairly in her court. She was the ideal choice to preside over Young Adult Court, and it is no surprise that the Albuquerque Bar Association is recognizing her as Judge of the Year.”

The bar association will formally present the award to Judge Leos at its annual meeting/luncheon at 11:30 AM on Thursday, December 12, 2019 at the Embassy Suites in Albuquerque. The association also will present the Attorney of the Year Award to Vince Ward, who the group said was selected, in part, for his “excellent and tireless advocacy of Chelsea Manning.”

Judge Leos said she is “incredibly honored to receive the Albuquerque Bar Association Judge of the Year Award. It is my understanding that I was selected for this award in large part due to my work with the Young Adult Court. Presiding over Young Adult Court has been one of the best parts of my job and to be recognized with this prestigious award for doing something that I get such joy out of is simply phenomenal.”

Click here to View PDF Version

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

Afghan Officials Visited Second Judicial District Court in Search of Best Practices for Handling Domestic Violence Cases

A delegation from Afghanistan—including a prosecutor and a police officer—visited the Second Judicial District Court in April as part of a trip to learn how U.S. courts handle domestic violence cases.

The group—which also visited courts in Baltimore, Cincinnati and Detroit—hopes to find best practices that they can apply  in Afghanistan’s judicial system. Global Ties ABQ, a non-profit organization the works to foster ongoing relationships between Albuquerque residents and international visitors, sponsored the Albuquerque trip. 

At the Second Judicial District Court, the Afghan delegation observed a domestic violence hearing and then shared their impressions with the hearing officer, Rosemary Traub, and Family Court Presiding Judge Debra Ramirez over lunch.

Interpreters facilitated the conversation. The prosecutor, Abdul Haq Anabia, said having a judge or hearing officer render a decision in a domestic violence case is a stark contrast from the process in Afghanistan, where all domestic violence such cases are resolved through mediation. 

Judge Ramirez said culture plays a role in the different manners in which courts handle domestic violence cases in the U.S. versus Afghanistan.

“In Afghanistan, the focus is always on reuniting the family,” Judge Ramirez said. “In the U.S., even though we like to see families work out their differences and remain together, there are times when we consider it appropriate to draw a line and say reunification is not possible—and that line is when violence is occurring.”

Despite the differing approaches, both the Afghanis and their American counterparts agreed their overriding goal is to decrease incidents of domestic violence.  Haq Anabia said the mediation process in Afghanistan offers families support to help curb violence.

“Overall, we are trying to decrease violence against women in Afghanistan,” said Gita Qaderi, a female police officer in Kabul.

Qaderi also expressed appreciation for the number of programs in the U.S. that promote awareness of domestic violence and offer services and resources for survivors. “We need to have more programs that build awareness,” she said. “I am hoping to go back and focus on such programs.” 


Click here to ViewPDF Version

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.