NM bail reform prompts three bail bondsmen to run for the gavel
April 13, 2018 10:32 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – They’ve worked with arrestees for their entire careers, but now they’re trying to get on the other side of the bench.
Though Jerry Gonzales, Richard Pacheco and Jim Smith aren’t attorneys, the three claim they’ve seen enough accused criminals to oversee the courts.
The bail bonding business has dwindled since last July after the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that judges are not allowed to issue excessive bonds. Gonzales said he was forced to close his Santa Fe bail bonding business last summer.
Pacheco and Smith are still running their barebones operations in Bernalillo and Carlsbad, respectively.
Gonzales, who is running for Santa Fe County Magistrate Court Judge Division I, has questioned why some judges have released many arrestees with no bond at all.
“I don't know if maybe they have lost touch with the community, but all of the citizens – you know, the common folk – they all see that crime is higher than it's ever been,” Gonzales said. "People who have offered to put up (my) signs on their properties. I've never gotten involved in politics so this is all new to me."
After laying off seven employees at his Bernalillo bail bond business, Pacheco is reaching for the gavel in Sandoval County.
“I thought, 'You know what? I can do a better job than any of these people,'” he said. “I've been in the business for 32 years. It's not like I'm coming in fresh. I understand how to do this business. I've worked with the district attorney’s office, I've worked with defense councils. I know the staff."
In Carlsbad, bondsman Jim Smith is also taking a swing at justice by running for magistrate judge in Eddy County.
Santa Fe Magistrate Judge incumbent David Segura urges voters to look at the qualifications and records of all of the candidates.
To search all candidates running for judge, check the New Mexico Secretary of State’s website.
The New Mexico State primary is June 5. Election Day is Nov. 6.
Updated: April 13, 2018 10:32 PM
Created: April 13, 2018 08:21 PM
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