Los Alamos Magistrate Judge Pat Casados, left, awaits her turn to speak at a recent candidates’ forum alongside her husband, Jeff Casados. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos Magistrate Judge Pat Casados is working to improve not only her own court but others in the state, she told two recent local candidate’ forums.
She explained what cases the Magistrate Court handles saying, “I’m your civil judge up to $10,000. I see misdemeanors – anything that can put you in jail for 364 days. Felonies start with me. I see traffic, DWIs – the first three are considered misdemeanors, after that they are felonies. I can have jury trials. I do weddings, I’ve done close to 400 weddings in the last 16 years”.
Casados said travel is required in her position because she runs a small court and there are 66 other magistrate judges in the state that she has to support. If another judge is ill or someone dies while in office, she travels to their court to fill in.
“I was in Roswell one week a month for two years. I have traveled to Chama, Moriarty, Las Cruces, Clovis, Raton, Belen, Santa Fe and in the future I’m looking at Hobbs, Silver City and Gallup. Those are places I will go to help other judges,” she said.
Casasos said she is proud to have a National Judicial College certificate in Special Courts.
“It was hard-earned. It was almost 90 credits. Some of them were on scholarship but a lot of them I paid for myself. I am proud to be on two committees right now – the Chief Judge’s Council which is chaired by the Supreme Court Chief Justice and the Education Committee,” she said. Casados is also a mentor judge and an instructor for the new judge school for magistrate judges. This year there are expected to be some 15 new judges this year whereas four years ago there were 30, she said.
Casados is president of the Magistrate Judges’ Association and said has had to stick her neck out with the Supreme Court for a couple of things recently as she is on the ground floor for some reorganization of the courts.
“My goal is that when I leave office, hopefully not in November, in my next term or the term after that, that I leave the courts a better system than when I found them and that it benefits not only Los Alamos but the state of New Mexico,” she said.
Casados said she is proud that she has kept the District Court here in Los Alamos and has made sure the District Court brings a clerk to the Los Alamos Municipal Building one day a week.
“I’m hoping to get that expanded, especially with some of the things that are coming up with the new courts,” she said.
“How do I make my decisions, I’ve been asked. I try to treat everybody that comes into that Magistrate Court like I would want to be treated. My son was in a few courts and I was that mother sitting in the back of the room when somebody in a black robe told me what I could and could not do with my child. So I try to be patient with the parents or whoever else is in the back of the room that wants to hear,” Casados said. “I have the privilege of having a small court so I can explain process and procedure. I try to listen. I’m very proud that some days all people want to do is come to court and have themselves heard. They just want their side heard – somebody to listen. So I try to listen very carefully. I’m governed by the laws and the rules of the state of New Mexico.”