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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

buenos dias

I woke up this morning with absolutely no idea what day of the week it was. At first I was convinced it was Tuesday, our deadline day, and the weekly sense of panic Tuesday creates gripped my throat. Then I "realized" it was Saturday and sunk back into my pillows. One eye opened; Saturday? No, no, not yet.
Yes, it's Wednesday. Post deadline day, the day the paper hits the streets, meeting day, planning day, phone call day. And, on this particular Wednesday, Fran Gallegos day.
No, it's not officially Fran Gallegos day, but today is the day she defends herself in court against allegations of misconduct. And all the papers (ours included) have made a point of repeatedly noting that the hearing is open to the public (kind of a weird thing to keep saying), and I'm thinking it will be a media circus—my favorite kind. I've had several people ask me if they think Gallegos will get out of this. It's hard to predict these things but, if I had to, I'd say she's probably toast. There isn't a whole lot of public interest right now in excusing any judicial mistakes if they relate to DWI and why should there be? The concern in these situations has to be for public safety, not sitting around trying to determine how willful or malicious mistakes made might have been. Of course, Gallegos has rights, but so do all the people getting mowed down by people with 15 DWIs who are still on the road because paperwork got screwed up or whathaveyou. So, that's my two cents. On the other hand (on the same hand?), I've never quite grasped the argument about why muni and mag judges don't have to be lawyers. It's been explained to me during every election and I'll understand the argument against requiring legal degrees for judges but I don't think I've ever been convinced as I can never remember the argument used. It seems like a no-brainer to me; if you want judges who understand the law and follow it, require judges to have law degrees. Particularly when you've got mag and muni courts dealing with DWIs and a clear pattern that part of the problem, a lot of the problem, in New Mexico with DWI has been improper administrative handling of the cases. Anyway, we shall see what happens. I'll be there for sure; how about you?