BERNALILLO, N.M. (KRQE) – After a man with a history of DWI charges was accused of showing up to court drunk, the judge let him go.
This judge is on probation, already under scrutiny for how she’s handled other cases.
Lapel video from July 1, 2016 shows a Sandoval County Sheriff’s deputy stopping Tony Pacheco at a DWI checkpoint on Highway 22 in Peña Blanca. He admitted to drinking, at most, three beers.
“And when was the last one?” a deputy asked.
“Maybe about three, four hours ago,” Pacheco said.
Court documents show Pacheco passed field sobriety tests, but court records also show that over the years Pacheco had three DWI charges, including two convictions.
A deputy arrested Pacheco in July for driving on a revoked license. That’s how Pacheco found himself at Sandoval County Magistrate Court last week after bonding out of jail.
As a condition of his release, he wasn’t supposed to be drinking. However, sources tell KRQE News 13 he showed up drunk to his trial.
He faced Judge Delilah Montaño-Baca, a judge on probation with the State Supreme Court for accusations she influenced her son’s paternity case.
She is also the judge who lowered bond for a car theft suspect, accused of nearly running over a deputy.
That suspect, Elexus Groves, bonded out for $140, according to court records.
Two and a half weeks later, police say Groves stole a van and caused a deadly crash.
So, people paid attention last week when, sources say, a portable breath test put Pacheco at a 0.18 and, instead of holding him in contempt of court, Judge Montaño-Baca let him walk away.
Documents show she recused herself, citing an “inability to be fair and impartial.” Now, a different judge is tasked with considering Pacheco’s behavior at a contempt hearing and holding his trial.
Pacheco’s lawyer tells KRQE News 13 that the results of a portable breath test can’t be used in court.
He also said while his client looked like he had been drinking, he didn’t drive to the courthouse, he didn’t cause a disturbance in court and it was a non-jury trial that didn’t involve a long list of witnesses. His attorney says all those details may have factored into the judge’s decision to simply reschedule the trial and set a contempt hearing.
After that contempt hearing, Pacheco still may face consequences.
KRQE News 13 reached out to Judge Montaño-Baca, but she did not comment.