IN THE MATTER OF THOMAS G. CORNISH, District Court Judge, Dona Ana County, New Mexico INQUIRY CONCERNING A JUDGE NO. 2001-96
Holguin Randall D. Roybal Albuquerque, NM for Judicial
Standards Commission H. Vern Payne Jarales, New Mexico for
This matter came before the Court upon petition for
discipline filed by the Judicial Standards Commission and
upon stipulation for temporary suspension that the Court
approved with modification on January 11, 2002.
The commission issued a notice of preliminary investigation
to respondent on December 3, 2001. The commission also filed
a petition for temporary suspension with the Supreme Court on
December 3, 2001. Respondent filed his response to the notice
of preliminary investigation on December 6, 2001. On December
6, 2001, the Supreme Court issued an order requesting a
response from respondent to the commission's temporary
suspension petition. On January 3, 2002, the commission and
respondent entered into and filed a stipulation agreement for
temporary suspension with the Supreme Court. On January 11,
2002, the Court issued an order temporarily suspending
respondent pending completion of the commission's
proceedings. The order further provided that respondent's
suspension shall be with pay for a period not to exceed 90
days (April 12, 2002) and thereafter shall continue without
pay. On February 18, 2002, respondent entered into a plea and
stipulation agreement with the commission concerning the
substantive allegations pending against him. The stipulated
factual and legal conclusions are set forth below.
On or about November 25, 2001, respondent was arrested and
charged with driving while under the influence of
intoxicating liquor or drug ("DWI"), no headlamps,
no insurance, and running a stop sign. The criminal matter
was styled, City of Las Cruces vs. Thomas G.
Cornish, Las Cruces Municipal Court Cause No.
On or about November 26, 2001, respondent appeared before the
Las Cruces Municipal Court and pled nolo contendere
to the charges of DWI, no headlamps, and running a stop
On or about January 28, 2002, respondent appeared before the
municipal court for sentencing. Respondent's pleas were
accepted for the charges of DWI and no headlamps
and the court convicted respondent for DWI (first offense)
and no headlamps. Respondent was then sentenced to one year
supervised probation on the following conditions: 1) DWI
school in Albuquerque within 90 days; 2) Victim Impact Panel
in Albuquerque; 3) no more use of alcohol/illegal drugs; 4)
supervised telephonic probation the 26th of every month at
3:00 p.m.; and 5) AA meetings three times a week.
Respondent's conduct violated the following Canons of the
Code of Judicial Conduct: 21-100 NMRA 1995 (judge shall
uphold integrity and independence of judiciary); 21-200(A)
NMRA 1991 (judge shall avoid impropriety and appearance of
impropriety in all activities); 21-300(B)(2) NMRA 1995 (judge
shall be faithful to the law); and 21-500(A)(1), (A)(2), and
(A)(4) NMRA 1995 (judge shall conduct extra-judicial
activities to minimize risk of conflict with judicial
Respondent's conduct constitutes willful misconduct in
WE HEREBY FIND that the recommended disciplinary measures for
respondent's violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct
are appropriate. Respondent shall comply fully with the
requirements of the discipline imposed by this Court and with
the Code of Judicial Conduct.
NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that Honorable Thomas G.
Cornish is hereby disciplined as follows:
A. Respondent shall remain suspended from judicial office
B. Respondent shall be and is hereby formally reprimanded.
C. Respondent shall attend and successfully complete alcohol
rehabilitation counseling and an in-patient alcohol