Thursday, October 18, 2012

ABQJOURNAL NEWS/STATE: Judge in Trouble Over 'Fling'

Judge in Trouble Over 'Fling'

By Astrid Galvan
Copyright C 2010 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Staff Writer
An "intense romantic fling" with an assistant public defender who
had pending cases before state District Judge Bob Schwartz may cost the
colorful judge - known for his wit and wisecracks - a 60-day unpaid
suspension, according to court documents unsealed this week.
The New Mexico Judicial Standards Commission is recommending
Schwartz be suspended without pay for 60 days, receive a formal public
reprimand, complete a course on sexual harassment and leave the bench during
future medication transitions.
The recommendation will go before the state Supreme Court, which
will make the final decision, on Oct. 12, said Paul Kennedy, Schwartz's
According to the commission's findings, Schwartz, a former district
attorney and governor's crime adviser, is accused of failing to uphold the
integrity and independence of the judiciary; failing to avoid impropriety;
failing to recuse himself from the pending cases involving the defender; and
of not conducting "extra-judicial activities as to minimize the risk of
conflict with judicial obligations."

The allegations stem from Schwartz's self-reporting to the commission
last August that his judicial conduct fell below his own standards as a
result of switching medications for a chronic illness in spring 2009.
Schwartz, 60, called it a "very difficult time in my life".
A months-long investigation followed, and the commission made the
disciplinary recommendations in a petition this month.
"We think the punishment is disproportionate to the allegations, and
we are confident of a full and fair review by the Supreme Court," Kennedy
Schwartz did not return a call seeking comment.
Among the alleged improprieties is a short-lived romantic
relationship with a 29-year-old assistant public defender, who has since
left that job.
According to the petition, the woman had represented defendants in
Schwartz's court from November 2008 to late July 2009.
In early July 2009, Schwartz invited the defender to lunch on a
workday. On what would be their first date, the judge gave the woman what he
called a "gag gift": a book titled "The One Hour Orgasm," with an official
picture of himself in his judicial robe pasted over the picture of the
book's author. He also gave her a pair of purple latex gloves.
The next day, Schwartz took the woman to a concert in Santa Fe,
according to the petition. After the concert, he told the woman he would
recuse himself from her cases because he couldn't be fair. The couple went
on to a bar called Anodyne in Downtown Albuquerque.
But Schwartz, who has never been accused of sexual harassment,
failed to recuse himself from the cases in a timely manner, according to the
He took action in two cases she was involved in on July 14, 2009,
the petition states. In one of those cases, he publicly questioned his own
prior decision to deny the woman's motion to dismiss. He withdrew his denial
to dismiss and recused himself from that case, offering an ambiguous
"This I'm sure happens to every judge at some point, but this is for
me, a definite moment of indecisiveness. I don't know what the right call is
in this case, I really don't, and so I shall not be allowed in this case and
let another judge take a look," Schwartz said at the time.
Schwartz eventually recused himself from all the cases the woman was
involved in. She ended the romantic relationship because of the way he
handled the recusals, according to the petition.
Schwartz and his attorney fought rigorously to keep the commission's
proceedings and findings sealed, but documents were unsealed this week.
According to the documents, Chief Judge Ted Baca speaks highly of
Schwartz. He described Schwartz as "well-suited to sit as a judge," and
calls him a "very valuable member of the court."

Read more: ABQJOURNAL NEWS/STATE: Judge in Trouble Over 'Fling'

Subscribe Now Albuquerque Journal