N.M. Court of Appeals Judge Robert E. Robles, who pleaded guilty to drunken driving in March, has agreed to retire from the bench and never again seek a judgeship.
The N.M. Supreme Court approved the agreement today between Robles and the Judicial Standards Commission. It puts an end to the career of a Democrat who spent nearly 18 years on the bench as a district judge in Doña Ana County before being appointed to the Court of Appeals in 2008 by then-Gov. Bill Richardson.
Robles will retire on June 1, The Associated Press reported. The court also formally reprimanded Robles, and that notice will be published in the state Bar Bulletin, according to The Santa Fe New Mexican’s Steve Terrell.
Robles pleaded guilty to one count of first-time DWI on March 28. He was sentenced to one year of probation, community service and use of an ignition interlock device for a year.
The judge was arrested in Albuquerque in February 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.
Following his arrest, Robles apologized for “an egregious error in judgment,” voluntarily placed himself on unpaid administrative leave and reported himself to the Judicial Standards Commission. Soon thereafter, the Supreme Court formalized Robles’ leave by suspending him without pay pending the conclusion of his criminal case.
Robles appeared to indicate when he apologized that he intended to stay on the bench. He said he hoped his apology would be “the first indication of my profound remorse” and a sign of his “commitment to do my best to restore your confidence in me as your public servant.”
But some, including the head of the state’s DWI Resource Center, called for Robles to resign.
He’s not the first judge to have problems with DWI in recent years. In 2002, District Judge Thomas Cornish of Las Cruces pleaded guilty to DWI and resigned. Two years later, John Brannan, the chief district judge in Bernalillo County, pleaded guilty to aggravated DWI and possessing cocaine and left the bench.
Then in 2005, Socorro County Chief District Judge Thomas Fitch left the bench after pleading guilty to an aggravated DWI charge that stemmed from him rolling a state-owned van into a ditch.