Clovis Municipal Judge — Q&A

There are two candidates in the Clovis Municipal Judge election — incumbent Judge Jan Garrett and Raymond Mondragon. Each candidate was asked three questions. The questions and candidate responses:

 

Raymond Mondragon

Raymond Mondragon

Raymond Mondragon

Q Municipal court has been the site of an escape and bomb scare in the past year. Is security a concern? If so what are your plans to increase security?

A Because courthouses and courtrooms must be accessible, they are vulnerable to acts of random violence. Courts must have proper court security procedures, technology; video conferencing is used in a lot of the courtrooms; personnel and courtroom-designed features (must) not only protect the safety of the people and property within and around the courts, but also the judicial process.

While there is no one solution to issues concerning court security, proper planning must involve collaboration with law enforcement, emergency agencies, and governing bodies. It’s important to assess and re-evaluate emergency management plans in place.

Security should always be a concern in today’s society. As judge I will do my best to minimize potential threats.

Q What skill or qualification do you have that makes you more qualified than most for this position?

A I served with the Clovis Police Department for 27 years and retired as chief of police. I served as Clovis interim and full-time city manager when the city of Clovis lost $4 million. I managed tough issues and changes. I was appointed by the mayor and City Commission to assist in managing the crisis; we succeeded as a team.

I graduated from the FBI National Academy in 1987. I also completed the course at the FBI Academy, Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar for police chiefs in 1997. I worked for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management as a contract investigator, conducting military background security clearances. I graduated from Southwest Command College in Tempe, Ariz. I have seen both sides of the courtroom, as a witness and a law enforcement officer who has testified in some of Clovis’ major violent criminal cases in magistrate, district and federal courts.

Q What specific programs or types of programs would you support or initiate to reduce the amount of non-violent offenders in jail?

A It’s important for me to evaluate and assess what is working and what isn’t working. It’s important that I assess the court and seek staff input. I am aware that at times the court allows for community service, which is allowable under the statute. Community based programs are important; they save money and are shown to produce better results when dealing with non-violent offenders.

Municipal courts have jurisdiction over all offenses and complaints under ordinances of the municipality.

In the past other courts have tried community gardens, inmate trustee programs, etc. With today’s society, rules, litigation and legal issues it’s important that we carefully examine programs that will maintain and assure the security of the community.

 

Jan Garrett

Jan Garrett

Jan Garrett

Q Municipal court has been the site of an escape and bomb scare in the past year. Is security a concern? If so what are your plans to increase security?

A Last year a man brought a pipe bomb into the court and showed it to our staff, who reacted immediately and appropriately. Would the man have walked past an elaborate security system manned by an experienced police officer? Probably not.

An inmate ran from the courtroom last summer and was captured by local law enforcement later that night. This was a serious incident that could have had deadly consequences. As the elected official in the court, I accepted full responsibility for this breach of security, as I do today. We now have a written protocol in place from which we do not deviate and this will not happen again.

Security seems to be more of a concern every day, in every aspect of our society. We have had professional evaluations of the court’s security, and we do have safeguards in place to protect the court and citizens.

Could we have more? Of course, at a cost. We will continue to improve the security of the court within the constraints of our budget.

Q What skill or qualification do you have that makes you more qualified than most for this position?

A Twelve years as municipal judge, city of Clovis; six years, mentor judge for newly elected municipal judges in this area. Twenty-nine years as a court reporter and court monitor in Nueces County Court, Corpus Christi, Texas; First Judicial District Court, Santa Fe; and Ninth Judicial District Court, Clovis and Portales. A member of Education and Legislative Committees for the New Mexico Municipal Judges Association. A member of Supreme Court of New Mexico Municipal Judges Advisory Committee, by Supreme Court appointment.

I attend annual training at University of New Mexico Judicial Education Center and participate regularly in online and regional educational opportunities from the National Judicial College.

Q What specific programs or types of programs would you support or initiate to reduce the amount of non-violent offenders in jail?

A I am constantly searching for effective alternative sentencing options, anything that helps a defendant move forward toward a more productive life that does not include involvement with the judicial system.

With some defendants, a jail sentence is necessary. With others, supervision using the Electronic Monitoring Program from Curry County Detention Center allows the defendant to continue working and receiving counseling and/or drug/alcohol treatment.

If the Municipal Court has a defendant in jail for a period of months, it is generally because we are searching for treatment options and have been unsuccessful; or because we have released a defendant on electronic monitoring and the defendant has demonstrated to the court that he/she will not follow the rules.