Los Alamos jurist seeks fourth term on the bench

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Judge Alan Kirk is running for reelection

By Carol A. Clark

Incumbent Alan Kirk is running for reelection as Municipal Court judge. He has served three consecutive four-year terms.  “I’d like to continue presiding over the court that we’ve developed. We have a very good staff and I think we provide a very high level of service to the community,” Kirk said.

Adjudicating cases can be interesting, he said, adding that it can be a challenge sometimes in reaching the best decision and rendering the fairest sentence.

“It’s also interesting working with individuals to help them realize they need to make some changes in their behavior to better their lives,” Kirk said. “When issues arise, we want to make it as easy as possible for citizens to get them resolved. I think we’ve put together a good Teen Court that helps kids understand why things are the way they are.”

The Municipal Court handles traffic and animal control cases. Citizen complaints regarding ordinance violations used to go through Kirk’s court but last year, those cases began going through the police department.

A difficult part of Kirk’s job is seeing repeat offenders and individuals who won’t comply with their sentence, he said.

For some people it seems once they get in the court system they can’t seem to break free of it, Kirk said.

He and his staff have developed alternative sentencing programs through counseling agencies and through Teen Court in an effort to help people complete their sentences.

After an individual’s DUI case is adjudicated, Kirk said his court orders a number of follow-up hearings meant to keep the court involved. This helps ensure the individual attended counseling or other treatment measures.

“It’s very important to help people realize they need to change some behaviors. The goal is to increase their quality of life and to have a safer community,” he said.

Kirk joined the Los Alamos Police Department as a patrolman in 1977.

He worked his way through the ranks, retiring as chief of police in 1998, after serving in that position for 10 years. He was elected municipal judge the following year.

Kirk is active in professional organizations such as the Judge’s Association, of which he is a past president. He is chairman of the Los Alamos Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, a youth organization he co-founded with youth advocate Morrie Pongratz and former Police Chief Richard Melton.

Born in Savannah, Tenn., Kirk moved to Los Alamos when he was 4-years-old. His father was in the military before accepting a job with Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Kirk graduated from Los Alamos High School in 1972.

He has been involved in sports including serving as LAHS girl’s basketball assistant coach for seven years. He currently is the head coach of the boy’s basketball team at LAHS. He also is a White Rock Little League past president.   

Kirk graduated from Eastern New Mexico University in 1976 where he majored in psychology and minored in accounting.

He met his wife Pat while in college. They have been married 36 years. The couple lives in White Rock where she is a teacher’s aide at Piñon Elementary School. The Kirk’s have two children, Erin, 14, and Alex, 18. They are both athletic and Alex recently earned an athletic scholarship to UNM. The family also has a cat named Oreo.

The Los Alamos Municipal Court moves into the Justice Center at 2500 Trinity Drive Monday. Kirk invites community members to drop by in the next couple of weeks to see the new courtroom.