Legal Ethics

Judge Rapped, Should Have Stepped Aside Before Going to Lunch with PD, Official Argues

It wasn’t only the gag sex-book gift that got a New Mexico judge into trouble.

Handing an assistant public defender a book on The One-Hour Orgasm, with his own photo pasted over the author’s (who happened to have the same name), apparently violated a sexual harassment policy. And it was cited by the New Mexico Supreme Court today as one reason for imposing a public reprimand on Bernalillo County District Judge Bob Schwartz, reports the Albuquerque Journal (sub. req.).

Although Schwartz recused himself within a week from hearing her cases after taking the 29-year-old woman for a hotdog lunch on a weekday, that wasn’t soon enough, Judicial Standards Commission director Randy Roybal told the court. Since the judge knew he had a romantic intent, Schwartz should have recused himself before even asking her to lunch, Roybal argued.

The supreme court agreed that the judge should have stepped aside earlier, although it opted for a public reprimand for Schwartz today instead of imposing the two-month suspension sought by the commission. It also ordered the judge to pay $6,000 and take a sexual harassment course.

Schwartz, whose lawyer blamed confusion caused by a new medication he was taking for the judge’s delay in recusing himself, left the Santa Fe courtroom today without showing much emotion, reports KRQE.

“I’ve been in this business for 30 years; nothing like this has ever happened before,” he told the station. “And the court was right. I will never let this happen again.”

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