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Messages reveal tension at courthouse

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By Martin Salazar

Judge Eugenio Mathis believed that Jay Quintana, the ex-teacher who admitted to having sex with a student, should be required to register as a sex offender.

He said he felt that Frank Alvey, a convicted child rapist, had been railroaded by the prosecutor who handled the case and by the now-retired judge who presided over it.

He referred to one court employee as a “lazy @ss,” wrote that a police officer testifying in his courtroom “has a block head” and referred to members of a jury pool as “pinche slackers” after 27 out of 58 failed to show up.

And that’s just scratching the surface of the 45 pages of instant messages made public when the Judicial Standards Commission’s case against Mathis was unsealed by the state Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon.

“I am saddened to have had communications — personal and otherwise — that were intended for my wife, disclosed for public viewing as well as the unfortunate emphasis that has been placed on those allegations that I denied,” Mathis said Saturday night in an emailed statement to the Optic. He said that part of the reason he chose to resign was to avoid further public airing of the “contentious atmosphere” that exists at the court.

“The employees of the Fourth Judicial District are dedicated and hard-working,” he said. “I have apologized to the employees for my offensive comments and sincerely regret that my actions have cast the Fourth Judicial District in such a negative way.”

The transcripts contain more than 1,000 instant messages exchanged between Mathis and his wife, Michelle Pino-Mathis from Nov. 13, 2012, to Jan. 31. Not all messages they exchanged during that period are included in the documents filed with the Supreme Court.

Pino-Mathis is a supervisor in the clerk’s office. Many of the instant messages were exchanged while Mathis was on the bench presiding over hearings and trials.

The messages were sent on the court’s instant messaging system, a violation of court policy, which states that the messaging system is to be used for official business only. The court even warns employees that violators will be prosecuted under the New Mexico Computer Crimes Act.

Infighting
The messages provide a rare behind-the-scenes look at infighting inside the 4th Judicial District.

In one series of exchanges on Jan. 16, Mathis asks his wife whether he should take a hidden recorder into a meeting with an unidentified female colleague.

“Is it illegal to do that,” his wife asks.

“Don’t think so,” Mathis responds.

“I would do it!,” his wife states.

“OK. Will do it,” Mathis writes.

From the messages, it’s clear that Pino-Mathis is having trouble with her supervisors and that the relationships between Mathis and the two judges who he had been serving with up until Thursday had soured.

Mathis describes Chief Judge Abigail Aragon as “not very bright.”

During another exchange that took place on Nov. 20, Pino-Mathis tells her husband that Aragon has been spending a lot of time in the clerk’s office.

“Is SHE ALL FRIENDLY?,” Mathis asks.

“I hear her cackling down in the back of the office, but haven’t seen her,” Pino-Mathis responds.

Mathis and his wife refer to Judge Matthew J. Sandoval as FM, which appears to be code for fat man or fat Matt, and at several points they make disparaging remarks about his weight.

On another day, Mathis informs his wife that her direct supervisor is on the second floor with Aragon.

“To kiss some @ss?,” Pino-Mathis asks.

“Probably. I really hate (your direct supervisor),” Mathis states.

On another day, Pino-Mathis writes that “I’m on the verge of going postal.”

About two weeks after that, Mathis notes that the CEO/CFO of the 4th Judicial District just walked by and barely talked to him.

“She should think twice about being a jerk with you,” Pino-Mathis responds.
 
Improper conduct alleged
The Judicial Standards Commission accused Mathis of violating a number of judicial rules as a result of several of the instant messages it has combed through.

In one message Mathis writes “I think she might be a weird one,” referring to a woman who has petitioned for a name change.

In another case, a Jan. 31 jury trial, Mathis and his wife exchange messages about the selection of the jury. Mathis then tells his wife he can’t be impartial.

“Andres friend john ulibarri here ­— can’t be fair to him,” Mathis writes.

“oh THAT’s RIGHT.... DEFENDANT IS FRIEND’S TO ANDRES,” his wife responds.

In yet another case, Mathis states that an attorney is delivering his opening statement.

“I don’t like that man,” Pino-Mathis states.

“Me either. Not very sharp,” Mathis writes.

On another day, Mathis states that he just “ripped (an individual) a new one.”

Quintana case
The commission had a major concern about the exchange that Mathis and is wife had about the Quintana case on Nov. 16. Quintana did not preside over that case, although it’s clear he had strong opinion’s about Quintana’s guilt.

On Nov. 16, Mathis was presiding over another jury trial, and he was giving his wife regular updates on how the trial was going via the messaging system.

The couple exchanged at least 120 messages that day.

At 2 p.m., Pino-Mathis told her husband that she was going through a report on Quintana prepared by forensic psychologist Moss Aubrey. The commission contends that the report was confidential.

Mathis questioned his wife about the report.

“Anything interesting???,” he asked.

“He did admit to a few times,” Pino-Mathis responded.

“With the vic??? POS (piece of shit).”

“Yes,” she responded. “He denied fathering a baby with a student about 20 years ago.”

“Times? is that true?,” Mathis asks.   

“I think it said 3. I hear that it was (redacted),” Pino-Mathis responds.

They continue talking about the Quintana case until Mathis tells his wife that jury deliberations have begun in the case he was presiding over that day.

“How long will they take?,” Pino-Mathis asks. “Verdict?”

“Less than one hour,” Mathis guesses.

“Damn... Verdict?,” Pino-Mathis asks.

“Not guilty in my opinion,” Mathis answers.

They go onto talk about other matters before returning to the Quintana case.

“Hope JQ has reg. as sex offender,” Mathis states.

“I hope so too because he deserves it,” Pino-Mathis responds.

Personal matters
Not all of the messages had to do with work and colleagues.

Several of them dealt with Mathis’ gravely ill mother, who died in late December.

Many others had to do with paying credit card bills, making house payments and other personal finances. At least one related to shopping on company time.

Many were intimate exchanges.

“Guess who loves you?,” Pino-Mathis asked.

“My wonderful beautiful wife????

“That’s right.”

“Guess who loves you?,” Mathis asks.

“That would be my handsome, smart, witty husband,” she responds.”

Still others were rife with sexual matters.

On Dec. 28, Pino-Mathis told her husband that the courthouse’s alarm system was set to be tested and that one of her colleagues told her, “No hanky panky.”

“Us??? Hanky panky? NEVER!!!!,” Mathis responds.

“I told her that we’re going to start some sparks,” Pino-Mathis said.

“Don’t come knocking if the jury room is rockin .....” Mathis writes back.

“No lie!!! I’m here fixing stuff in cases as I’m accepting pleadings,” she says.

It’s unclear from the context whether the two were serious or whether it was merely banter.
In a Jan. 30 exchange, Mathis tells his wife, “I’m horngy.”

“I’ve had company ..... cochino (dirty man),” she responds.”

“Would you want me to not tell you?”

“I do want to hear it, but it just takes me awhile to write back. Jessie was in here and then Luna,” Pino-Mathis writes.

“As long as you like ...,” he responds.

“I do like,” she answers.