NM Supreme Court censures judge for ex parte communication

According to this story by Mark Oswald in the Albuquerque Journal, the New Mexico Supreme Court has censured District Judge Sarah Singleton of Santa Fe for an ex parte communication she had with one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the FedEx case that resulted in a $165.5 million wrongful death verdict, the largest in New Mexico’s history.

The communication occurred because one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, who hails from Texas, telephoned Judge Singleton after the verdict, ostensibly to ask for a restaurant recommendation in Santa Fe, and ended up talking about the case. I cannot fathom what would possess a lawyer to do such a thing. Why couldn’t he just look up “Best Santa Fe restaurants” on Google?

In any event, I do not have a copy of the order, but would like to say that in my experience, Judge Singleton is a highly competent, fair judge, and I am convinced that this was a one-time mistake that will not be repeated.

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