July 31, 2015

Incoming district judge faces discipline over subpoenas

Joe Gratz


A disciplinary panel is recommending censure against Emilio Chavez, a Taos assistant district attorney who is set to begin his tenure as a district judge on Aug. 17.

Photo Credit: Joe Gratz cc

Joe Gratz

Photo Credit: Joe Gratz cc

The panel found that both he and Eighth Judicial District Attorney Donald Gallegos abused their subpoena power by issuing subpoenas without grand jury or judicial authority.

From the disciplinary recommendations, drafted earlier this week:

In issuing the pre-indictment subpoenas the Respondents may have acted with the meritorious intentions of gathering information with which they could solve a crime that had occurred or was occurring in their community. However, it is not acceptable for any officer of the Court, and certainly not one with the responsibility and power of a prosecutor to use their position to try to obfuscate the rules to the degree the Respondents’ improper actions.

The disciplinary panel also wrote that the improper subpoenas resulted in “time and resources” used “to litigate matters that should not have been at issue.”

Chavez, according to the panel, broke six rules of professional conduct.

The panel also recommended that Gallegos receive a formal reprimand and both him and Chavez pay fines.

Gov. Susana Martinez appointed Chavez to be a judge in the Eighth Judicial District just two weeks ago. A spokesman for her office did not return a request for comment this afternoon.

Chavez also didn’t return a voicemail and email from New Mexico Political Report.

It’s unclear whether the findings will affect Chavez’ incoming judicial service. He will be able to appeal the disciplinary recommendations to the New Mexico Supreme Court.

On the same day she picked Chavez for a judicial vacancy, Martinez also appointed former District Attorney Matt Chandler, who himself is also no stranger to controversy.

Read the disciplinary panel’s action below:

Chavez.Gallegos.Matter.pdf by New Mexico Political Report