National Pretrial Group Honors State Supreme Court Justice and New Mexico Courts Administrator – Los Alamos Reporter

Justice Michael E. Vigil/Courtesy Photo Supreme Court

AOC Director Artie Pepin received an award from the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies (NAPSA) on Monday. Photo courtesy of the Courts Administration Office. Photo courtesy Supreme Court

Chief Justice C. Shannon Bacon accepts the Charles W. Daniel Judicial Leadership Award on behalf of Justice Michael E. Vigil. Photo courtesy Supreme Court


Two New Mexico court officials have been recognized by a national organization for their work to improve the state’s pretrial justice system.

Supreme Court Justice Michael E. Vigil received the Charles W. Daniels Judicial Leadership Award from the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies (NAPSA) and Director of the Courts Administrative Office Arthur Pepin received the John C. Hendricks Award Pioneer of the organization.

“The awards recognize the commitment, vision and leadership of Justices Vigil and Artie Pepin in promoting a fair and efficient justice system in New Mexico through legal and evidence-based practices and policies,” said NAPSA President Spurgeon Kennedy.

The awards were presented at NAPSA’s annual conference and training institute in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Justices Vigil and Artie truly deserve national recognition for advancing pretrial justice in New Mexico. Their efforts benefit all New Mexicans by helping the courts deliver on the promise of equal justice under the law,” said Chief Justice C. Shannon Bacon, who accepted the leadership award Tuesday on behalf of the judge. Vigil. He was unable to attend the conference.

The leadership award is named in honor of former state Supreme Court Justice Charles W. Daniels, who championed pretrial justice reform.

The pre-trial process begins when a person is charged – but not convicted – of a crime and continues until the charges are resolved, such as when they are dismissed, a jury returns a verdict in of a trial or for the individual to enter a plea. A person is presumed innocent throughout the pre-trial phase of the justice system. The law balances the need to protect the community while protecting the rights and freedom of the accused.

Justice Vigil has served on the state’s highest court since 2018 and served as chief justice from 2020 to 2021. He previously served as a state appeals court judge for 15 years.

Pépin received his award on Monday. He has worked as Director of the Courts Administration Office (AOC) since 2006. AOC provides support to New Mexico courts, including technology, budgeting, and human resource management. The AOC also serves as a liaison with the legislative and executive branches of government.

Judge Vigil helped secure funding from the Legislature for the expansion of strong pretrial services in courts across the state. As Chief Justice, he spearheaded the development of 24-hour electronic monitoring of convicted defendants wearing GPS tracking devices while awaiting trial. An AOC program now provides after-hours supervision — nights, weekends and holidays.

Pepin has advocated for pretrial reform for a decade. He authored a 2012-2013 policy paper for the Conference of State Court Administrators on evidence-based pretrial decision-making in which the supervision and release of arrestees is guided by validated research. and information on the likelihood that a released person will return to court. for future hearings and remain free from arrest pending trial.

In 2016, New Mexico voters approved a constitutional amendment aimed at moving the state away from a money-based pretrial system in which defendants – no matter how dangerous they posed to the public – could secure their release before trial if they could afford a cash bail. .

Since the change in the law, the judiciary has established a network of pre-trial service programs to help people comply with their release conditions and return for future court appearances.

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