For the past six years, the Valencia County Magistrate Courts in Belen and Los Lunas have welcomed the public to a special community event each May.
The original concept was to host an open house to demystify the courts by clarifying public perceptions about the role of judges and answering basic questions about court procedures. We hosted law enforcement agencies and spotlighted community services available in our county.
Last year we added various legal aid agencies, organizations and community resource partners. This year we have expanded the number of participants to 24. While our goal is still to open our doors to the public, we have fundamentally changed the focus from an open house to a Community Legal Resource Fair.
With two dozen agencies scheduled to attend, this will be our biggest event yet. Among those attending are New Mexico Legal Aid, the Senior Citizens’ Law Office and Pegasus Legal Services for Children. Also attending are local law enforcement and first responders, including Belen police and fire departments, the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico State Police. Other resources include Safer New Mexico Now, Alexa’s Hugs, the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center, New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions and the New Mexico Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
There are many useful resources available to the citizens of our county. Some service providers are governmental and others are non-profits. All are here to help. But the information is helpful only if it gets to those who need it.
I invite you to attend this year’s Community Legal Resource Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday, May 31, at the Magistrate Court in Belen, 901 W. Castillo St. Refreshments and music will be provided at the event. Please come, and invite others to attend with you.
Judge John Chavez, guest columnist
Magistrate Judge John R. Chavez is the magistrate in Belen. He is a native of Valencia County and is a retired U.S. Army colonel.