BY MAIRE O’NEILL
The two candidates for Los Alamos Magistrate Judge participated in the virtual League of Women Voters Candidate Forum Monday evening. Democrat Catherine Taylor and Republican Tim Bullock offered three-minute opening statements and answered a series of questions.
For details, see below:
Catherine Taylor – Democrat
I’ve been an attorney for more than 20 years and have spent my entire career in courtrooms in front of judges. As a deputy district attorney prosecuting felony and misdemeanor cases in both adult and juvenile courts, and as deputy trial counsel for the California State Bar prosecuting California licenses attorneys for ethics and code of conduct violations. Currently I am the Teen Court coordinator for Los Alamos Municipal Court. For those of you who may not be familiar Teen Court is primarily a diversion program for kids in our community who commit traffic offenses or low-level non-violent crimes. The other part of my job as Teen Court coordinator is to recruit and train teen volunteers to fill the roles of prosecutors, defense attorneys, judge and jury in our Teen Court hearings. It’s been as Teen Court coordinator that I’ve built invaluable relationships throughout our community and I’ve seen first-hand every day the way that Los Alamos prioritizes its values, especially when it comes to our kids. I’ve worked with school leaders, the police department, its officers and victim advocate, the juvenile probation officer at CYFD, the Teen Center, JJAB, the courts – all people dedicated and committed to supporting and building a healthy and safe community. As coordinator, I have taken the Teen Court from a one size fits all to an individualized approach, not just imposing consequences but also identifying the underlying issues behind a kid’s actions and addressing those to eliminate recidivism –something a good judge does in every case. I’m especially proud of our collaboration with JJAB to implement the restorative justice program. Restorative justice requires teens to examine the choices that led them into trouble, the ramifications their actions had on others and then guide them as they make amends to those affected including themselves. As vice president of the statewide Teen Court Association, I’ve cultivated a network of colleagues throughout our state committed to improving outcomes for youth in New Mexico. As a board member of the association facilitate regular trainings by experts on critical issues that impact all New Mexicans, most recently on harm reduction in the Fentanyl epidemic. Staying informed on the problems facing so many of our kids, our families, our communities is essential to addressing many of the factors that bring people into the criminal justice system in the first place. I know how fortunate my family is to be part of a community that is caring and engaged in creating a safe place to grow up, go to school, work, raise a family, enjoy the outdoors, enjoy retirement, at whatever stage of life one might be. I look forward to applying what I have learned working within our community, combined with my broad range of experience within the criminal justice system to serving Los Alamos as your magistrate judge.
Tim Bullock – Republican
My wife Linda and I have been married for 38 years and we are blessed with two adopted sons. The oldest is in his fourth year in a service academy, the other is in his second year of engineering at university. Both are Eagle Scouts. We’ve lived in Los Alamos for 4 ½ years and have enjoyed Northern New Mexico for many years prior to actually moving here. I’m a Rotarian and the president-elect of the local Rotary Club of Los Alamos. I’ve been Boy Scout leader for many years and I serve as Eagle Advisor for Troop 22 in Los Alamos. I’m a student of U.S. History, an avid open-ocean sailor and a long-suffering Broncos fan. I received my undergraduate education and law degree from the University of Denver. I hold a degree in business from the London School of Economics. Before I began practicing law I worked as an aide in the British Parliament and I was a merchant banker in New York and London. I taught micro- and macro-economics as an adjunct professor and while in law school I ran for and was elected to the City Council of a city about the size of Los Alamos. I have practiced law for several decades. I’m licensed in three states but now actively practice in just two states, New Mexico and Colorado. The thrust of my work is now in federal court doing complex litigation. I’ve represented cases before the Colorado Supreme Court. I’ve made oral argument before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. I’ve practiced law at every level of the justice system except the U.S. Supreme Court. If elected, I will be fair and impartial at all times. I will be compassionate and respectful to all who appear before the bench and I pledge to hold repeat offenders accountable.
What made you decide to run for office?
I put a lot of thought into this decision. What drew me to run for office for Magistrate Judge was it was the logical next step. My family and I relocated to Los Alamos and I’ve been working as the Teen Court coordinator. With Judge Casados retiring, I thought this was an opportunity to use my experience, 20 years as an attorney practicing in criminal courts and administrative courts, to give back and serve a larger and wider portion of our community. Right now I work primarily with teens in middle school through high school and as Magistrate Judge I realize I would have a broader impact and be able to use my experience to benefit a wider part of our community.
It’s my chance to give back as well. I’m near the end of my legal career. I’m 64 years old; I figure I probably have about another five or 10 years left and I’d like to change direction and give back to the community.
Do you believe the qualifications for Magistrate Judge should be changed? Why or why not?
Right now, the qualifications for Magistrate Judge is simply a high school diploma except in districts where there are more than 200,000 electors. In that event, the qualifications require that the person be a licensed attorney. I think it matters that the Magistrate Judge be a licensed and have practiced in the jurisdiction in which they wish to serve. I’m the only candidate that meets that qualification in this race.
Personally, I do not. I think having a legal background and a legal education is valuable. I think years of practice can be valuable but there’s nothing magic about being a judge. I think it takes common sense, it takes somebody that cares about their community, I think it takes somebody that respects the rule of law that is willing to follow or constitution, both state and the national constitution. I think that there are plenty of people who have not gone to college or not gone to law school that possess all of those things. So do I think the requirements need to be changed? No, but I think ultimately that’s up to our county and the voters.
Describe your specific judicial experience?
Specifically I have been the judge a lot of times in Teen Court. I have sat as the judge in mock trial competitions and also in training I’ve coached a few mock trial teams. I think that having appeared before countless judges – I can’t even begin to guess at a number – the most important thing as far as experience sitting up on the bench is one thing, but observing how judges conduct their courtrooms, how they treat litigants, the defendants, their family, the police officers, the attorneys, their staff, I think those are all very telling and I think I’ve been in a position to see a number of judges and how they comport themselves. One thing I take away from that is judges that serve with humility and with patience in my opinion are the best judges and they’re the ones that are fit to serve.
I’ve never been a judge except in law school competitions of which I’ve been a judge many times. I have, like my competition, been before many judges in many, many courts throughout the judicial system with the exception of the Supreme Court. That’s my answer.
As a practicing attorney what local cases have you been involved in?
Perhaps the case with the most notoriety has been the Sirphey case involving an over-stepping of county government in which my client brought a multi-million lawsuit against the County of Los Alamos. That’s in this state. In Colorado, I’ve just come off of litigation against General Motors where I won practice regularly – bankruptcy law in Colorado and in New Mexico, which is more of a paper-pushing function other than the times that litigation is needed.
As I shared, I am the Teen Court coordinator for Los Alamos Municipal Court. That involves juvenile cases and under juvenile cases and under state law juvenile cases are confidential and I can’t comment on those.
How does being Magistrate Judge fit in with your current judges?
Magistrate Judge is a full-time job so there would be a conflict of interest for me to sit as Magistrate Judge as I also serve as Teen Court coordinator so I don’t see it being a factor of time. Just like any other full-time job I expect that it will be the regular business hours and then the regular work and reading and preparation in the evenings.
I would have to withdraw from my cases as a private attorney.
We in Los Alamos have a safe community and I want to keep it that way. Many in our community now believe that the courts are too soft on crime. I pledge to hold individuals who are found guilty of a crime accountable, particularly where residivists and repeat offenders are involved. The law is nuanced. Experience, knowledge, and training in real court matters. Having a legal mind is important. Practicing law every day for decades makes a difference in the quality of justice. I’m the only New Mexico-licensed, actively-practicing attorney in this race. I’ll pledge to be available to law enforcement 24/7 to take their phone calls and sign warrants. I pledge to be impartial and fair. I won’t legislate from the bench. I pledge to apply the law to the facts to reach just decisions. How will I improve the Magistrate Court? I’ll improve procedure, communication and transparency by publishing dockets online giving public notice of hearings, holding brown bag lunches for attorneys and other professions… (ran out of time).
I appreciate this opportunity to share with you my qualifications and experience practicing in the criminal and administrative courts as well as my work here in our community. Taken together, my background makes me particularly qualified to serve as Magistrate Judge in our community.