Legal Ethics

Lawyer accused of accelerating car toward judge is censured

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A New Mexico lawyer accused of accelerating his car towards a judge crossing the street has been publicly censured and removed from the state’s lawyer disciplinary board.

Lawyer Eric D. Dixon of Portales, New Mexico, was censured in an Aug. 24 opinion (PDF) of the New Mexico Supreme Court. He was a member of the lawyer disciplinary board in April 2011, when he was accused of honking his horn at the judge and then accelerating toward him. The Legal Profession Blog and the Clovis News Journal have stories.

The now-retired judge, Teddy Hartley, said he moved to a space between two parked cars to avoid being hit. Dixon had denied any intention to threaten or harm the judge, and even denied knowing it was Hartley crossing the street.

The opinion said there was “evidence of past animosities” between Hartley and Dixon. The judge had filed a previous disciplinary complaint against Dixon, and Dixon had previously criticized Hartley’s efforts to obtain funds for a new courthouse.

The opinion said Dixon’s conduct was “simply unacceptable” and his actions were reckless.

Dixon told the Clovis News Journal he has filed a motion to reconsider.

The state supreme court had previously indicated it would publicly admonish Dixon for his conduct in a ruling from the bench in August 2013, before action in the related criminal case against Dixon.

In the criminal case, Dixon entered an Alford plea to reduced charges of careless driving and petty assault in April 2014.

The censure follows another incident this spring in which Dixon was accused of yelling at a man inside the courthouse, according to KRQE, the Clovis News Journal and the Portales News-Tribune. Dixon had accused the man of harassing his client by placing a note on her windshield, according to the Clovis News Journal.

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