The election of Matt Sandoval as chief judge of the Fourth Judicial District is not only disturbing, but I believe it sends a toxic and unfair message to young girls and women. It is a distressing message ripe with gender bias and sexist overtones.
In the private sector, if a woman with more seniority is overlooked for a position, as was the case with Jude Abigail Aragon, this would be clear gender discrimination. There is no doubt that Aragon is more than capable and in possession of the kind of qualities appropriate for chief judge. She has more experience than Sandoval the bench.
Even if the election to chief judge by Sandoval was a fair one, the larger issue is the message that both Judge Mathis and Sandoval are potentially sending to women, that being a chief judge is “a man’s work.” The other issue is whether either Sandoval or Mathis really possess the “moral turpitude and demeanor” to be chief judge. Mathis’ questionable personal behavior with a subordinate woman rightly dropped him from continuing in his former role of chief judge. I question the ability of Sandoval considering his historic politization of the DA’s office and even going back to his behavior as a police officer.
I believe the New Mexico Supreme Court in their supervisory role in the Fourth District should intervene. The judges are in a quandary, Aragon could pursue some kind of legal remedy for such discrimination, but then again judges in New Mexico and across the country, have given themselves absolute immunity. Any citizen that is mistreated has their rights violated by a judge, has no opportunity for vindication against a judge, such unconstitutional immunity was given to judges by themselves without the enactment of law by the people, legislature or a part of our constitution.
We hope that these judges and we the people rightfully overrule Sandoval and Mathis political aims and properly install Abigail Aragon win her rightful role as chief judge of the Fourth Judicial District. Such corrective actions would show female children, like my two daughters, and all citizens, that the most qualified and experienced person is really the best person for the job, no matter what sexy they are, especially on as significant and important as Chief Judge.