Legal Question in Family Law in New Mexico

Can a family court hearing officer be held liable when misconduct is involved? Can they be sued?

Asked on 3/19/13, 8:34 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

George Chandler Chandler Law of Los Alamos

A really interesting question. Judges can't be sued, that's well established - it's called absolute immunity. Hearing officers are at-will employees of the judicial branch subject to the policies of the judicial branch. They sort of look like a judge, but whether they have that kind of immunity from lawsuit I just don't know and haven't been able to find out. Judges are disciplined by a judicial standards commission and are subject to code of judicial conduct; hearing officers are also subject to certain articles of the code of judicial conduct, and for violations of those are subject to administrative discharge - apparently by the judge who hired them, which I presume is the chief judge of the district in which they work. I tried to find the personnel policies of the judicial branch that would apply but without success. If I wanted to complain about a hearing officer I would start with the chief judge in the district court where I had the case. If you did that you may find more answers to your question.

Look at NMSA 40-B-4 for the statutory rule about hearing officers - the statute is for child support officers but the rules apply that same statute to other hearing officers.

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Answered on 4/17/13, 4:04 pm

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