Part 2: Court of Appeals Staff Attorney Fails to Uphold Integrity and Independence

ALBUQUERQUE: In our story yesterday, we broke the news of the Court of Appeals attorney Eric Shimamoto’s harsh words, criticism and swift judgement toward the Backstreet Grill, a Mexican restaurant in Albuquerque which has, reportedly, refused to comply with public health orders, even when confronted by police and a health inspector who were expected to have the business owner arrested.

In a scathing rant sharing his opinion on the public health order and his perspective (potentially legal advice?) on the restaurant, Shimamoto, a staff attorney for the New Mexico Court of Appeals, stated, “[They] seem to be pretty proud of breaking the law. Since you’re looking at these photos, you’re a witness.” Is this legal advice? Is this pre-judging the situation?

We did some research on ethics and the code of conduct for New Mexico judicial court employees, which would include staff attorneys for New Mexico judges (though this does not include judges themselves), “The preamble of the code states, A fair and independent judicial system is essential to the administration of justice. Proper conduct by Judicial Employees inspires public confidence and trust in the Judicial Branch.” We couldn’t agree more. Would you trust this staff writer to give a balanced opinion if your case was going before the state court of appeals?

Canon 1 Judicial Employees Shall Uphold the Integrity and Independence of the Judicial Branch

Independence and Integrity. An independent and honorable Judicial Branch is indispensable to justice in our society. Therefore Judicial Employees shall maintain high standards of conduct, integrity, honesty, and truthfulness so that the independence of the Judicial Branch is preserved.

Commentary:

The fundamental attitudes and habits of individual Judicial Employees reflect on the integrity and independence of the Judicial Branch and are of vital importance in maintaining the confidence of the public in the Judicial Branch. Honesty and truthfulness are paramount.

Canon 4 Judicial Employees Shall Conduct Their Outside Activities as to Minimize Conflicts with their Employment Responsibilities

A. General. Judicial Employees shall avoid all outside activities that reflect negatively upon the Judicial Branch or that might detrimentally affect their ability to perform their duties for the Judicial Branch.

Is Eric Shimamoto using his position and knowledge improperly? Do these statements offer a conflict of interest between his work as a staff attorney for the New Mexico Court of Appeals? Leave us a comment about what you think AND contact the New Mexico Courts Human Resources office to complain about this inappropriate behavior HERE.

References:

New Mexico Judicial Branch Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees. (2010, February 9). Retrieved May 10, 2021, from https://www2.nmcourts.gov/newface/hr/nmjbp/NMJB%20CODE%20OF%20CONDUCT%20and%20SUPREME%20COURT%20ORDER%202%209%2010.pdf

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