Roswell citizens, local officials and the Magistrate Court team bid a fond farewell to Judge Eugene De Los Santos, Friday, with a reception that was open to the public. De Los Santos, who served more than 14 years as a judge, is retiring.
District Court Judges Freddie Romero, Steven Bell and James Hudson, District Attorney Janetta Hicks and members of the Public Defenders office all attended.
Representatives from the Magistrate Court central division traveled from Santa Fe to say adieu. Former District 2 Magistrate Court Judge Robert Corn also came to honor De Los Santos.
Chaves County Sheriff Rob Coon said, “He’s a very honorable man and he did an extremely good job here. He will be missed in the Chaves County judicial system.”
Roswell Police Chief Al Solis told the Daily Record, “In the seven-and-a-half years I’ve been living in Roswell, I got to know Judge De Los Santos well. He is a good man and a fair judge, and he never complains about being awakened in the middle of the night to sign warrants.”
Following food and drinks, some 50 to 100 people, including three generations of De Los Santos’ family, squeezed into one of the courtrooms for a series of presentations.
Magistrate Judge John J. Halvorson quipped, “He is retiring, but I’m sure we’ll be seeing him when he comes back pro tem (a judge who sits in for another).”
Former Chief Deputy District Attorney of Santa Fe and current Magistrate Staff Attorney Shari Weinstein gave De Los Santos a plaque for his years of service. “We appreciate your helping us out, and we will miss you.”
Public Defenders Nate Banks and Harry Wilcox presented De Los Santos with a card signed by everyone from their offices. He thanked them, saying, “I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the public defenders, but these guys are the greatest.”
Members of Magistrate Court staff presented gifts of tools for his woodworking shop, his favored hobby. Some of the tools De Los Santos did not recognize. Many staff members cried openly, and one read a poem dedicated to him.
De Los Santos also provided gifts and commendations to the staff.
“These people were my voice,” said De Los Santos. “They looked at me when I was hatched as new judge and they took care of me.”
He said goodbye to everyone who worked in the file room and called the Magistrate Court clerks the backbone of the department.
Then he turned his attention to the crowd, thanking his wife of 47 years, Gina, who had already provided him with a “honey-do” list. He spoke first in Spanish and then in English, joking, “Where’s the translator?”
De Los Santos addressed the crowd. “I’ll never forget the day 15 years ago when Judge Corn (and Rod Adair) came knocking at my door, asking me to run, and I’ve never forgiven you. I ran, and I always managed to win. I often wondered what is going on out there…. (but) You placed your trust in me a long time ago.”