Judge Benavidez is a last, best hope for many
Commission should reconsider its negative recommendation
It was with tremendous shock and dismay that I read of the New Mexico Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission’s recommendation to not retain (Metropolitan Court Chief) Judge Edward Benavidez.
He saved my daughter’s life and those of many, many others. Recovery Court, which he oversees, is a last chance for those who have given up, facing insurmountable obstacles that include addiction, criminal charges, homelessness, poverty and separation from family members. When all seems lost, in steps Judge Benavidez, who, for the first time for many, is someone who really listens to their story and extends hope.
He and my daughter’s probation officer took time to meet in his chambers for over an hour late on a Friday afternoon to get to the root of my daughter’s problem. He makes it crystal clear that whenever someone misses a required counseling session/court appearance/ appointment or suffers a relapse, they are to call him or their parole officer to check in. This is sheer relief for those who previously went back to jail for such lapses and had come to see jail as a revolving door and a place they’d just end up in. He and his staff provide support and a wide array of resources.
Suddenly, what seemed out of reach for many in his court becomes attainable, such as trying new things like school or a career that has eluded them. It was a turning point for my daughter, who hit rock bottom, but is now thriving, doing well in school and reunited with our family. Someone else in the program was separated from her family, living in a broken-down black van in the middle of summer with her dog, showering at a truck stop and busing to all her required court commitments. She graduated from Recovery Court, is a valued employee at where she has worked for the past year, lives in an apartment and is reunited with her family.
There are countless other inspiring tales of success. The recidivism rate is under 5 percent and dropping. Miracles still happen. One has only to attend his Recovery Court to witness this. He is just, yet merciful and empathetic, while still adhering to the law. We and countless others are eternally grateful to Judge Benavidez. His name is mentioned with respect and profound gratitude. He has given back to us our family members, extended hope where there was none, and changed our lives forever. I hope the commission reconsiders its recommendation.