Court suspends Espanola municipal judge for misconduct

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ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) — An Espanola municipal judge has been suspended for 90 days without pay and must reimburse the state for an investigation of his conduct.

The New Mexico Supreme Court made the decision Wednesday to discipline Judge Stephen Salazar.

The Santa Fe New Mexican  reports  that Salazar had ordered a towing company to return a motorcycle that was seized in a criminal case in another court. The motorcycle belonged to an acquaintance and son of a member of Salazar's church.

Salazar told the judicial panel that he would take responsibility for his actions.

The high court ordered Salazar to reimburse the towing company owners the $8,500 they spent to get his order overturned. Salazar also cannot accept $7,700 in public funds that city councilors provided for legal bills in the case.