The state Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that Rio Arriba County Magistrate Tommy Rodella is guilty of willful misconduct in office and removed him immediately from office, never to be allowed to hold another judicial office in the future.
The high court made its decision to follow the recommendation of the state Judicial Standards Commission, which accused Rodella of violating judicial rules in three separate cases, following a hearing Wednesday morning. The five justices.
Rodella hugged and kissed his wife Debbie Rodella, a state legislator from Española, his children and other supporters following the decision.
Asked for comment following the decision, Rodella would only tell a reporter, “Thank you for your fairness.”
Chief Justice Edward Chavez, in announcing the court’s decision, said while the court did not agree with all the commission’s findings, there was evidence to support the finding that Rodella was not credible during legal proceedings in the case against him.
The commission said Rodella was guilty of misconduct in three cases he presided over. One was springing an acquaintance arrested for drunken driving from jail.
Another was improperly advising a man and woman from Chimayó in a rent-dispute case in exchange for political support.
The third was improperly telling an alleged victim in a domestic violence case that she didn't have to show up to court to testify against her husband.
The last case was the one that prompted the most discussion from justices during the hearing.
Rodella’s lawyer Justin Pennington admitted that Rodella had made a mistake in that case, but that did not constitute willful misconduct and did not warrant removal.
Read more in Thursday’s New Mexican.
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