Updated: Thursday, 14 Oct 2010, 7:38 AM MDT
Published : Tuesday, 12 Oct 2010, 6:10 PM MDT
SANTA FE (KRQE) - A sex book and a date in a park were enough for the New Mexico Supreme Court to reprimand an Albuquerque judge for his courtroom behavior Tuesday.
Bernalillo County District Court Judge Bob Schwartz admitted to having a romantic relationship with a 29-year-old public defender who had cases in his courtroom back in July 2009.
The Judicial Standards Commission said that was wrong and filed a petition for discipline against the veteran judge in August with the state’s highest court.
The commission told the justices that Schwartz went on dates with the attorney and gave her a sex book while knowing some of her cases were on his docket.
He eventually recused himself from the cases but not until after he had taken action on both.
Schwartz's attorney, Paul Kennedy, argued that the judge and former district attorney planned on recusing himself earlier than he did. He got confused, however, when he called up one of the cases and asked if they were ready to go to trial, Kennedy said.
Kennedy blamed the confusion on new medicine Schwartz was taking. He sad when Schwartz realized the case belonged to the attorney he was dating, he recused himself.
Kennedy also said the book Schwartz gave the attorney was a gag gift.
On Tuesday Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Daniels said Schwartz recused himself from the cases too late.
As part of Schwartz’s punishment the courts ordered a public reprimand. The reprimand will include details of the entire case and be published in the New Mexico Bar Association Bulletin.
"For the public to know that this is conduct that they shouldn't expect from their judicial officers," Daniels said.
The commission wanted the high court to suspend Schwartz for two months from the bench. That was the same length of his relationship with the attorney. Daniels said the public scorn he'll endure is enough.
Schwartz left the Santa Fe courtroom with little expression on his face.
"I've been in this business for 30 years; nothing like this has ever happened before," Schwartz said. "And the court was right. I will never let this happen again."
Schwartz would not say if he felt he did anything wrong. He told News 13 that he would let the Supreme Court have the final word.
The court also ordered Schwartz to complete a sexual harassment course and pay a $6,000 fine.
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