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Supreme Court of New Mexico

February 11, 2016

INQUIRY CONCERNING A JUDGE NO. 2015-049 IN THE MATTER OF SARAH M. SINGLETON, First Judicial District Judge

          Randall D. Roybal Deborah L. Borio Albuquerque, NM for Judicial Standards Commission

          James A. Hall, L.L.C. James A. Hall Santa Fe, NM for Respondent

          ORDER AND PUBLIC CENSURE

         {¶1} WHEREAS, this matter came on for consideration by the Court upon the Judicial Standards Commission's petition to accept a stipulation agreement and consent to discipline (Stipulation) entered into between the Commission and Hon. Sarah M. Singleton (respondent), who is a district court judge in the First Judicial District;

         {¶2} WHEREAS, in the Stipulation, respondent admits to the following acts:

a. On or about January 24, 2015, in the case of Alfredo Morga, et al. v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., et al., D-101-CV-2012-01906, respondent permitted and engaged in impermissible ex parte communications with plaintiff's attorney while the case was still pending before respondent;
b. On or about January 24, 2015, in the case of Alfredo Morga, et al. v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., et al., D-101-CV-2012-01906, respondent created the appearance of impropriety by engaging in a phone conversation with plaintiff's attorney that involved substantive matters and was outside the presence of the other party or the other party's attorney;

         {¶3} WHEREAS, in the Stipulation, respondent admits that she violated Code of Judicial Conduct Rules 21-101, 21-102, 21-209(A) and 21-210(A) NMRA;

         {¶4} WHEREAS, in the Stipulation, respondent admits that she engaged in ex parte communications contrary to the Code of Judicial Conduct;

         {¶5} WHEREAS, in the Stipulation, respondent denies that she engaged in willful misconduct and further denies any malice, corrupt purpose, or dishonesty;

         {¶6} WHEREAS, in the Stipulation, respondent acknowledges, however, that the facts support a conclusion that she knew or should have known that her actions were beyond her lawful authority and that such conduct falls within the Supreme Court's definition of bad faith;

         {¶7} WHEREAS, in the Stipulation, while the parties agree that violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, by itself, does not necessarily constitute willful misconduct, respondent acknowledges and stipulates that the facts and evidence, individually and taken together, may constitute willful misconduct in office and one or more violations of the New Mexico Code of Judicial Conduct and provide sufficient basis for the New Mexico Supreme Court to impose discipline pursuant to Article VI, Section 32, of the New Mexico Constitution;

         {¶8} WHEREAS, the Stipulation provides that, in stipulating to discipline, the following non-exclusive factors in Judicial Standards Commission Rule 30 NMRA were considered:

a. the misconduct was an isolated instance;
b. the misconduct occurred in respondent's official ...

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