The last few weeks have shown Los Alamos to not be the quiet little village many often seem to claim it is. Sadly, our Magistrate Court judge has seemingly done very little to help local law enforcement keep what safety we have in place.
One example of the failure of our Magistrate judge to protect this community is her dealings with Steve Porter. Granted, the man is innocent until proven guilty, but clearly our Magistrate judge is loosing whatever effectiveness she may have once had with our local criminals.
Judge Casados released Mr. Porter on bond, a perfectly reasonable course of action in our modern legal system. Not knowing her specific reasons but assuming they were in relation to the large number of drug offenses, reportedly Judge Casados strictly warned Mr. Porter that if he as much as received a traffic ticket while out on bond that he would await trial while in jail.
First, I’m not sure if failing to obey traffic laws such as speeding is a legally acceptable reason for ordering an arrest for violations of conditions of release. Second, how is it that a judge does not know that if a strict warning is given, that credibility is lost when failing to follow through.
On Aug. 19, Mr. Porter was warned to not even do as much as violate a traffic law. On Aug. 25, Mr. Porter was picked up again by police, presumably on the judge’s orders, for tampering with his electronic monitoring device, a felony. In this brief period of time, Judge Casados seemed to have forgotten how strict she intended to be with Mr. Porter, for the act of committing a felony earned Mr. Porter not a stay in jail until the end of his trial, but rather a continuance of his original conditions of release with the mere full payment of his bond rather than the traditional percentage.
I find it amazing that six short days can take the fires of justice out of our judge’s bench. Whether her warning was foolishly too strict or her fortitude too weak, Judge Casados’s actions display a poor understanding of even basic human behavior, much less criminal behavior. I think this is inexcusable for a judge who has sat on the bench for over a decade.
I understand Judge Casados gave reasons for wanting to be elected four a fourth term because of her “renewed enthusiasm.” Perhaps that enthusiasm from this past September has run down, because her interactions with Mr. Porter alone seem the actions of one who is either lacking motivation or merely poor judgement. Either way, perhaps Judge Casados should be retiring rather than running for reelection.