Dominic Martinez, the current director of Taos Central Dispatch, wants to restore Taos County Magistrate Court as a "people's court." To him, that means bringing harsher sentencing against offenders …
Dominic Martinez, the current director of Taos Central Dispatch, wants to restore Taos County Magistrate Court as a "people's court." To him, that means bringing harsher sentencing against offenders to make the community safer while making himself accessible to its citizens.
"I want to be approachable for the citizens and focus on holding people accountable for their actions, especially repeat offenders," he said.
As the head of Taos County's emergency call system, many of the arrests made in Taos County originate with calls made to his dispatchers. In the past year, their phones have rung with news of everything from quintuple homicides to fatal car crashes.
For the several years prior, Martinez was on the other end of the line, taking the calls that would lead to the cases he hopes to preside over as a magistrate court judge. While an arrest is the start of a criminal case, he'd like to control what happens on the other end, once it reaches the courtroom.
Martinez first worked as a deputy for the Taos County Sheriff's Office. He then joined the 8th Judicial District Attorney's Office, where he served as an investigator for nine years and then as an undercover narcotics agent for three.
After six years working as a director for Nonviolence Works, Martinez returned to the county and took up his current position running dispatch and emergency management.
In 2006, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for sheriff, but said the position of magistrate judge has intrigued him since he was young.
"I love my current job, but I want to give a little bit more," he said.
Now 52, he said he has a solid 10 years ahead of him, time that he'd like to dedicate to serving his community from the bench.
If elected, Martinez said he would encourage the state to seek harsher sentencing in plea agreements and to move forward to trial when necessary.
"More mandatory maximums would help all the way around," he said. "It would help the community. It would help law enforcement officers feel like something's being done with their arrests, and it would help the offenders that are getting them to help them become a better citizen of Taos County."
As a former employee of the district attorney's office, Martinez knows resources are limited. He said he would proposed a weekly or biweekly meeting with all major stakeholders - law enforcement, judges, public defenders and law enforcement - to achieve optimal outcomes in the courtroom.
Martinez also said he would look into the idea of holding "night court" twice a month for individuals who can't make court appointments due to work or other conflicts.
"I want to work with the people in the people's court," he said. "I want to make our community safer. I want people to know that they can raise our families here. I'm still raising my family here. All my family's here. I believe in Taos. I think it's a great community."
- John Miller
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