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Breaking: Judge Mathis resigns post

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Improper conduct alleged

By Martin Salazar

State District Judge Eugenio Mathis was forced to resign Thursday following allegations that he engaged in improper conduct.

Mathis, who has been a judge for 20 years, will never again be allowed to hold judicial office under an order approved by the state Supreme Court Thursday afternoon.

The court documents related to this matter were sealed until late Thursday, after the Optic's Friday edition had gone to press.

The allegations were investigated by the state Judicial Standards Commission and involve misuse of computers by Mathis and his wife, Michelle, who is also an employee of the 4th Judicial District. The 4th Judicial District encompasses the counties of San Miguel, Mora and Guadalupe.

Mathis reportedly exchanged inappropriate electronic messages with his wife during court proceedings. The commission alleges that some of the messages indicated Mathis and his wife would be having sex or had sex on court premises during the workday.

Mathis is accused of other inappropriate behavior as well.

It's unclear whether Mathis' wife is also facing disciplinary action.

Mathis was elected to the bench in November 1992, and voters retained him in 1996, 2002 and 2008.

He served as chief district judge from 2005 until 2009, when he stepped down from the post because his wife works for the court and the state Supreme Court took the position that Mathis being his wife's supervisor appeared improper.

Michelle Pino worked as Mathis' assistant since 2001, and he married her in August 2008.
In order to comply with the Supreme Court's decision, Mathis' wife was transferred to a supervisory job in the court clerk's office in 2009.  But because the court clerk's office is supervised by the chief judge, Mathis was forced to relinquish his position as the 4th Judicial District's chief judge.

Mathis earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford University and his law degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law. He was admitted to the bar in 1979 and practiced law for 13 years.

When a judicial vacancy like this occurs, the state Judicial Nominating Commission solicits applications, interviews candidates and forwards recommendations to the governor. The governor can then appoint someone to fill the vacancy, although her choices are limited to the pool of applicants recommended by the nominating commission.

The person appointed by the governor will then have to run for retention in the next general election, which will be in November of 2014.

Pick up Monday's edition for more on this breaking story.