The selection process for a replacement for magistrate judge, District 2, continues. Unlike the nomination of district judge, with a panel to interview the candidates and make recommendations to Gov. Susana Martinez, the office of magistrate judge is strictly a gubernatorial appointment.
Communications director Enrique Knell for the governor’s office said four people have applied for the position: Bobby Arnett, Larry Rogers, Keith Rogers and Ivey Hendrix. “Initial interviews are taking place this week. I’m afraid I don’t have an estimate for you on when the process will be completed,” he said.
The website for application to the post of magistrate judge has consistently shown no vacancies since early May when Judge Eugene De Los Santos contacted the governor’s office about his retirement. His last day in office took place on May 31.
In the interim, Magistrate Judge John Halvorson hears all magistrate cases. On Tuesday, magistrate Court had 25 preliminary hearings. Today, Halvorson has 30 sentencing hearings scheduled, for a total of 55 cases in two days.
Magistrate Court also holds all arraignments where the defendant is informed of his or her rights. The arraignments must take place within 24 to 48 hours of arrest on all cases that come through the court system.
Magistrate Court is responsible for hearing all civil cases, including jury trials, where restitution is under $10,000. It not only handles all Roswell criminal cases, or those not sent through Municipal Court, but all cases from Chaves County too.
The preliminary hearing is also on a time limit and must be heard within two weeks, or 10 business days, of the arrest. The Magistrate judge signs all affidavits of criminal complaint for search and arrest warrants. Bench warrants for failure to appear and failure to pay fines are signed by district judges and may form the bulk of arrest warrants.
Roswell Police Department Public Information Liaison Sabrina Morales noted that the number of warrants differed daily. On June 20, the number peaked with 44 warrants requested by the RPD, many for failure to appear, failure to pay fines and failure to comply .
Lt. Britt Snyder of Chaves County Sheriff’s Office also said he could not estimate the number of warrants requested per day that must go to Magistrate Court, saying only that it varies.
Relief may be in sight for magistrate. Once the interviews are completed, the recommendations will be sent to Gov. Martinez who will review them and announce her appointment.