Amendment would add two members, creating commission of 13
The state commission that investigates allegations of misconduct by judges could get a bit bigger.
Voters will decide in the November election whether to approve a constitutional amendment that would increase the size of the Judicial Standards Commission from 11 members to 13.
The proposal calls for the addition of a municipal judge and a member of the public.
State Rep. Ken Martinez, D-Grants, left, sponsored the bill that advanced the proposed amendment to a vote of the people.
Martinez, himself an attorney, said the commission as structured has an imbalance without a municipal judge. Someone from a municipal court would have a clear understanding of the duties and demands of his peer group in case of complaints or investigations, Martinez said.
Adding another public member at the same time would maintain an odd number of commissioners to avoid tie votes, he said.
Created in 1968 by an amendment to the New Mexico Constitution, the
Judicial Standards Commission now has six public members who are not
justices, judges, magistrates or lawyers.
The rest of the commission is made up of two lawyers, two judges or justices and one magistrate.
This proposal marks the second time voters have been asked to increase the size of the commission.
During its first 30 years, the commission had nine members. But in 1998, voters approved a constitutional amendment adding a magistrate member and another public member.
“For a time there were no lower court judges, the ones that are perhaps closest to the people,” Martinez said.
Though the commission has investigative powers, it can only recommend to the New Mexico Supreme Court that a judge be disciplined or removed from the bench.
The commission has a staff of seven. Commissioners themselves do not
receive salaries, but are paid mileage and expenses while on official
Constitutional Amendment No. 1
It would increase membership of the Judicial Standards Commission from 11 to 13, adding a municipal judge and a member of the public.