Magistrate judge seeks third term

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By Carol A. Clark

Magistrate Court Judge Pat Casados hears up to 20 domestic violence cases, 25 DWIs, 50 civil and 300 traffic cases annually. She’s also officiated 228 marriages in her seven years as judge in Los Alamos.


That varied and busy schedule is a major reason Casados has announced her candidacy to another four-year term.


“I love this work, no two days are the same and it gives me great joy when someone I’ve sentenced comes back and thanks me for putting them on a straight path and their family thanks me because I’ve helped turned their loved one’s life around. Also, I feel like I’ve started some things I’d like to complete,” Casados said during an interview at her Trinity Drive office Tuesday.


“I’ve been elected secretary treasurer of the Magistrate Judges Association and I’m really looking forward to serving on that board and continuing my service on the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and the DWI Planning Council. I also thoroughly enjoy the opportunities I have to speak before the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and working with the Los Alamos High School Civic Classes in their court sessions.”


“Another reason is I’ve been invited to be an instructor for the 2010 New Judges Orientation and Training Program,” she said.


Casados, 58, explained she and several other judges throughout the state have dedicated their time to ensuring new judges are well trained. New judges now receive a total of four weeks of training whereas when Casados was first elected in 2002, the training lasted just five days.


“We’ve really worked hard to make sure the training is strong. The New Mexico Supreme Court has been very pleased with the way the Magistrate Court is taking care of its own,” Casados said.


During her years on the bench, Casados has served on courts in Santa Fe, Espanola, Los Lunas, Moriarty, Estancia and Roswell and more recently in Las Cruces.


“It’s been very interesting to see how other courts and some of our larger courts work. I’m very proud to represent Los Alamos in the state. I strive to do my very best every time I put on that robe. I’m not representing myself, I’m representing the County of Los Alamos and I try to emulate the values and standards of this county. I know people don’t always agree with what goes on in court but my goal is to patiently explain the processes and procedures so they truly understand and feel when they leave that they achieved their day in court no matter the outcome.”


Casados was born in Tucumcari and raised in the small community of San Jon, N.M. where just 150 students comprised her entire K-12 school. San Jon has proudly graduated a Supreme Court justice, a District Court judge and two Magistrate Court judges, she said. The other judge is her sister Bethe Cunningham who served 11 years on the bench in Tatum, N.M.


Casados met her husband Jeff while they were students at Eastern New Mexico University. The couple married in 1971 and moved to Los Alamos where Jeff was born and raised. They have two children, Sean, 38, who lives in Denton, Texas and Jessica, 31, who lives in Los Alamos. They also have a 2-year-old grandson named Zeus.


Casados ran unopposed in the 2002 primary and was challenged by Republican Gary Ahlers in the general election.


The Los Alamos Magistrate Court judge position pays $72,000 annually including benefits.


Editor’s Note: Incumbents in the upcoming election will be featured Sunday’s in the Monitor. New candidates will be featured here after they officially file their candidacies on March 16.