RDR: Tell us a little about your background. Where were you born and raised, your education, current and previous employment. Please include the names of any businesses you may own or have owned and any companies or government agencies you may have worked for.
ARNETT: I was born in Ruidoso and raised in Roswell. I graduated from Goddard High School and enrolled in Junior College at New Mexico Military Institute and graduated with an associate’s degree in criminal justice. After NMMI, I transferred to the University of New Mexico and majored in criminology. While at UNM, I worked part time at UPS and Yellow Freight to help pay my tuition. After moving back to Roswell, I took legal research and writing classes at ENMU-R and started working at Hunt Law, PC. I also have been actively managing my family business and have served as the vice president of Amy’s Fireworks since 1993. I bring a solid, conservative business background to the Court.
ROGERS: I was born and raised in the Dallas, Texas, area. I moved to New Mexico at 19 years old and joined the New Mexico State Police. I was one of the youngest officers in its history. I moved to Chaves County in 1982 as an undercover narcotics officer and I served in that position for approximately 16 years.
I ran narcotics for the State Police in Las Cruces for six months and returned to Chaves County as the head of Criminal Investigations for the State Police over Southeastern New Mexico. I am an expert in several fields of law enforcement as well as marijuana and methamphetamine. I taught Narcotics and Criminal Investigations, Search and Seizure, Civil Rights, Warrant Writing and Court Testimony to Law Enforcement over my career. I retired after 21 years and opened a company that developed alternative sentencing programs for the courts called ASPEN of New Mexico Inc. I developed the ASPEN “Second Chance Life Values Programs” that are taught in jail, juvenile detention and as an offender responsible program for persons not incarcerated. Over 44,000 people have attended this program and it has grown to span over three states. ASPEN also teaches programs for the NM Law Enforcement Academy and the NM State Police Academy.
I was a hearings officer for the Law Enforcement Academy. I am a certified Domestic Violence Victim Advocate. In August of 2013, I competed with Bobby Arnett for the position of Chaves County Magistrate Judge Division 1 and was appointed to the position over Mr. Arnett by Gov. Susana Martinez. I resigned from ASPEN after my appointment. I have been magistrate judge for eight months.
RDR: How would you make the court more efficient? What changes need to be done with staff and/or technology to make the system work better?
ROGERS: Having taught search and seizure to officers as well as probable cause (the level of proof needed to obtain an arrest or search warrant) I began approving warrants very soon after I was appointed. I recognized that although technology had changed, our process to obtain a warrant hadn’t changed sense I was a rookie officer in 1980. I researched the law and Supreme Court rulings and found that electronic signatures on warrants had been accepted by the courts for a few years. Knowing that most police officers have smart phones and computers in their police cars, I initiated the electronic warrant program.
In the past, when an officer needs to get a search warrant he must develop the warrant, contact a judge, travel to the judge, allow time for the judge to review the warrant and then swear to the truth of the information and have the judge sign it. Then the warrant is given back to the officer who travels back to his office, makes copies, travels to his crime scene and serves the warrant while other officers secure the area and wait. This usually takes over three hours.
With the E-warrant program this process is cut down to 30-45 minutes and the officer can write the warrant in his car, send it to the judge via email. The judge swears the officer in over the phone or via a video call. The judge reviews the warrant and sends it back to the officer. The officer then prints the warrant in his car and serves it without having to leave the crime scene. It saves time, man-hours and money. It also gets law enforcement three hours closer to solving the case. The detectives and officers love it.
I also began studying the manner in which juries were called and jurors served. Most people don’t like jury duty but it is a vital part of our criminal justice system. I traveled to other courts and observed the manner in which jury panels are called in to serve and how they are selected. Strangely enough, they differ throughout the state. I returned with this information and with Judge Halvorson and our staff we discussed what we could do to make ours more efficient. Subtle changes were made to the number of panels and the persons called. It seems to be working well. Changes are made quite often to the process in an effort to be more efficient.
As for our staff, the Chaves County Magistrate Court staff is considered the best in the state. They regularly train the staff of other courts throughout the state. Several of our staff recently traveled to Albuquerque to train the staff of Metro Court, the largest and busiest court in the state.
ARNETT: It is well known throughout the state that employees of the Chaves County Magistrate Court Clerk’s Office have been exemplary for many years. They are highly trained and motivated individuals who excel at their jobs and even have helped other courts in New Mexico organize their files. While campaigning, the one complaint I have heard about Magistrate Court is about the automated call-in system. People have told me the automated system is time-consuming and lacks a personal touch and the efficiency that you would expect in a community like Roswell.
RDR: What is your philosophy on sentencing? What types of offenders should be locked up and what can be done with less serious offenders instead of sending them to jail?
ARNETT: Sentencing should be tailored to the individual involved, taking all circumstances into account, and coming up with a disposition that is appropriate per state statutes. New Mexico allows for distinction between serious and less-serious offenders, and there are alternatives to jail time for many less-serious offenders. There are programs that administer clear, punitive consequences combined with proper treatment and aftercare programs that offer counseling, education and case management to encourage a responsible choice by an offender. The ankle-monitoring system also has been a successful method for punishing offenders, while allowing them to continue providing for their families.
ROGERS: I believe that public safety is paramount with the understanding that a judge must follow the law. He cannot rewrite the law to suit his needs. However, there is nothing wrong with being creative. I often utilize incarceration with programs, community service and ankle monitoring. I combine them and use them individually based on the crime, the case and the defendant. It is very important to recognize the needs of the community as well as the defendant and sentence as you see fit and as allowed by law.
There are no types of people in court. I treat each one as an individual and I treat each case separate from the next. I do this with the understanding that there is a difference between those that frustrate us and those that frighten us. I sentence them accordingly and follow the law.
I have already met with Clay Corn, the Chaves County Detention Center administrator, and set up plans for weekend incarceration and work release programs. Good people sometimes get in minor trouble. I don’t believe they should have to lose their jobs or hurt their families if we can keep from it. I utilize every form of alternative sentencing that is applicable to the individual defendant and their crimes. I prefer alternatives that require the defendant to pay rather than the county. I feel that if they commit the crime they should have to pay for it.
RDR: Which U.S. Supreme Court justice do you admire most and why?
ROGERS: I don’t really have one. I am quite fond of New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Petra Maes. Justice Maes is a small-framed woman with a soft demeanor and great strength. She is also a Hispanic female and a great example to young Hispanic females like my daughters and granddaughters.
ARNETT: Sandra Day O’Connor. Justice O’Connor was appointed by President Reagan and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Justice O’Connor was the first woman Supreme Court justice and made great contributions to the court. She was known for being the deciding vote on many major judicial decisions. As a conservative, I do not agree with all of her decisions, but I respect her courage and integrity in making them.
Justice O’Connor was born in El Paso and raised on a cattle ranch in Arizona. She and her brother co-authored a biography of that experience called, “Lazy B: Growing up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest.” I find it admirable that she rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most admired and respected women in the United States. Justice O’Connor has spent time in Roswell, staying with close friends from her college days at Stanford University.
RDR: What is your position on medical marijuana in Chaves County?
ARNETT: My position on medical marijuana would be to follow the law as approved by the State Legislature and signed into law. My wife is a board-certified physician who has many patients in Chaves County, so I appreciate and respect the right of patients and doctors for proper and appropriate medical care that stays within the limits of the law.
ROGERS: I have a position as a father and grandfather, one as a narcotics officer and an expert on marijuana, and lastly one as a judge. As a judge I have no position.
The only thing that I can be concerned with is the law. Medical marijuana came about via the Compassion Act. As it often happens with laws such as this, many changes and exceptions have been made to it. As a judge, I have sworn to uphold all of the laws of this state, even ones that I may not agree with.
RDR: Why are you the best candidate for magistrate judge? What difference would it make if you were elected?
ROGERS: My qualifications are clear. I have no need to embellish them or state them in such a way that I leave you with a false impression of me. I have served this community for over 30 years and I have dedicated my life and risked my life in that service. I have extensive experience within the criminal justice system. I have thousands of hours of training and have been the trainer in many areas that relate directly to my position as judge.
I am an expert in many of areas that benefit me in my position as judge. I know and understand criminal behavior. I have spent all of my adult life working with criminals and working inside the criminal justice system. I am a conservative and more than anything I am a fiscal conservative. I am very aware of the costs of crime on all of us. I utilize my experience in alternative sentencing and as a police officer every day.
I have had the position of Chaves County magistrate judge for Division 1 for about eight months now. I have already made changes like the E-warrant program that help to protect our community and save money. I have changed the manner in which persons are sentenced utilizing a variety of alternative sentencing programs for those that need them and incarcerating those who need to be removed from our society. If elected I will continue to make intelligent, common-sense rulings and hold the persons convicted in my court accountable for their actions.
ARNETT: I am the best candidate for magistrate judge because I can draw on my background of community involvement and business. I believe good public servants should have a strong background of contributing to community organizations and volunteering their time. Additionally, I have a lifetime of business experience in my family’s business and have been involved in manufacturing, wholesale and retail sales, and rentals. I also have many years of legal training and experience though my employment with Hunt Law, PC.
My roots are in Roswell, and my wife and I are raising two children here. My goal as magistrate judge is to make Roswell a place where my children and their friends are safe. My promise to Chaves County is to be patient, fair and impartial. I will listen carefully to each person who appears in my courtroom and ensure justice is served. Crime will have a consequence in my courtroom.