Privacy Law

Suit claims judge secretly bugged courthouse and recorded conversations

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A suspended New Mexico judge is accused in a lawsuit of secretly bugging multiple locations in the courthouse and recording hundreds of hours of private conversations.

The suit filed on Friday claims suspended Aztec Magistrate Court Judge Connie Johnston placed the devices in more than a dozen locations, including an attorney-client conference room, judges’ chambers and restrooms, the Farmington Daily Times reports.

Prosecutors in San Juan County have asked the New Mexico State Police to investigate the allegations and are also discussing the matter with the state attorney general’s office.

The suit was filed on behalf of two magistrate judges and nine court employees. Their lawyer, Steve Murphy, said the suit was based on statements made by Johnston’s lawyer in a New Mexico Supreme Court hearing.

Johnston was suspended pending an investigation in December after she ordered the jailing of a court clerk who refused to leave her courtroom, according to a previous story by the Farmington Daily Times. The clerk was in the courtroom for her job, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the Courts told the Daily Times.

Johnston told the publication at the time that clerks were filing frivolous ethics complaints against her because she had witnessed rule violations at the courthouse and refused to order inappropriate sentences. Johnston refused comment on the new lawsuit when contacted by the Daily Times.

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