Municipal court seeks to clear up 70 cases

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Court is publishing its warrant list for the first time in 10 years

By Carol A. Clark

For the first time in a decade, Los Alamos Municipal Court is publishing its bench warrant list. The list contains all the names of local residents who possess outstanding bench warrants in Municipal Court.

“We’re looking to close out these cases so we want people to voluntarily come in to the Municipal Court on the main level of the Justice Center and pay their citations, fees and fines,” said Court Administrator Lisa Zuhn during an interview Tuesday afternoon. “The majority of the warrants involve traffic violations in which the driver has failed to appear in court or failed to pay fines.”

The court is seeking 70 Los Alamos County residents and another 150 people who reside in the Española Valley, Zuhn said.

“Our intent is to get these warrants resolved without having the police involved,” Municipal Judge Alan Kirk said this morning. “Resolving the warrant now prevents things from getting worse. We realize these difficult economic times and we’re pretty receptive to looking at alternative sentencing besides money – we just really want these people to come in and resolve their warrants.”

This type of outreach effort typically generates a 10-15 percent response, Zuhn said.

“Usually, the people call us first and we explain that they just need to come down to the court and take care of it,” she said. “Payment arrangements may be made in those instances where the person is having financial issues. In the event that a person is incapable of paying their fines and fees, they can go before the judge and he may order something such as community service in lieu of payment.”

Cash, money orders and cashiers checks are accepted for paying local fees and fines.

A bench warrant is a warrant issued by a judge due to disobedience of a requirement or order of the court, according to edoc.com. A bench warrant differs from a typical arrest warrant in that it originates with the judge, not the police.

This type of warrant can be used in either criminal or civil cases and is used by judges as tools to ensure compliance with orders or punishments levied by the court. Most often, bench warrants are used to compel the attendance of a person who has failed or refused to appear before the court of their own

Some common scenarios in which bench warrants are issued:
• to compel the presence of a non-appearing person,
• to compel the presence of a person previously held in contempt of court,
• to compel the presence of a person alleged of being in violation of a deferred or suspended sentence, and
• to compel the presence of someone found in violation of his or her terms of release or parole.
For local warrant information, contact the Los Alamos Municipal Court at 662-8025. The court is typically open 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.