Judge says he hopes apology is taken as a sign of his ‘commitment to do my best to restore your confidence in me as your public servant’
Following his Wednesday drunken driving arrest, N.M. Court of Appeals Judge Robert E. Robles is apologizing for “an egregious error in judgment” and says he hopes his apology is “the first indication of my profound remorse” and “complete acceptance of my actions.”
The judge also said in a prepared statement released Thursday that he hoped the citizens of New Mexico take his apology as a sign of his “commitment to do my best to restore your confidence in me as your public servant.”
Robles didn’t specifically mention the fact that he was arrested early Wednesday on charges of aggravated drunken driving and reckless driving, instead apologizing for his “recent personal actions.” He said he is “seeking professional help to assist me in addressing personal issues which resulted in my inappropriate behavior.”
Robles was arrested in Albuquerque just after 1 a.m. Wednesday after reportedly running a red light at 50 mph and nearly crashing his car into a police officer’s vehicle. Police say he had a breath-alcohol concentration of .20, nearly 2.5 times the legal limit.
Robles is scheduled to be arraigned March 3 on the misdemeanor charges. His statement gave no indication of what plea he will enter.
Though some are calling for Robles’ resignation, his statement appears to indicate that he plans to stay in the job and try to earn back the trust of voters who elected him in November.
In addition to saying he hoped his apology would be taken as the first indication of his commitment to earn back that trust, he also pointed out that he voluntarily placed himself on unpaid administrative leave and reported himself to the Judicial Standards Commission. That board will investigate his actions and could recommend discipline – or even Robles’ removal – to the state Supreme Court.
In his statement, Robles gave no explanation for his actions beyond the reference to seeking “professional help.” He told police he was “just circling around” before he was pulled over, and he called it a “sad and lonely night.”
‘What will it take?’
The head of the state’s DWI Resource Center wants Robles to resign, The Associated Press is reporting.
Linda Atkinson was quoted by the news service as saying judges need to be held to a higher standard because of the public trust their job requires.
“I don’t understand why people, including judges of all people, have to get into a vehicle after drinking,” she said. “…What will it take – that we hear a judge has killed someone in a DWI?”
On the other hand, Lora Lee Ortiz, head of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving New Mexico chapter, was quoted by the AP as saying the group is “satisfied with Robles’ unpaid leave of absence since he has not gone to trial.”
Other judges have left the bench in recent years because of incidents involving drunken driving. From the AP:
“Chief Judge Thomas Fitch of Socorro pleaded guilty to drunken driving and other charges in 2005 after he rolled a state-owned van into a ditch. John Brennan, chief judge in Bernalillo County, pleaded guilty to aggravated DWI and cocaine possession in 2004. Two years earlier, Judge Thomas Cornish of Las Cruces resigned after pleading guilty to DWI.”
Robles’ full statement
Here’s Robles’ full statement:
“I sincerely apologize to my family, to the citizens of New Mexico, to the members of the New Mexico Court of Appeals and to the entire New Mexico judiciary for my recent personal actions. I made an egregious error in judgment that resulted in painful consequences to those who place their trust in me.
“With the support of my family, I am seeking professional help to assist me in addressing personal issues which resulted in my inappropriate behavior. I hope to mend, as best as I can, the pain that I have caused my family, friends and colleagues, in accepting the consequences of my actions.
“I voluntarily placed myself on administrative leave without pay from my position on the New Mexico Court of Appeals and reported the incident to the New Mexico Judicial Standards Commission, which will review my actions.
“I ask the citizens of New Mexico to consider this apology as only the first indication of my profound remorse, complete acceptance of my actions, and commitment to do my best to restore your confidence in me as your public servant.”