A Valencia County magistrate position that has been vacant since the end of last year has finally been filled.
Valencia County Probate Judge Jamie Goldberg confirmed he was appointed to the Valencia County Magistrate Division III by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The position came open when former magistrate John “Buddy” Sanchez retired from the bench in December.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Goldberg said of being a magistrate. “With my background and experience, this is something I want to do to help our my community.”
Goldberg said he spoke with the governor late on Wednesday, March 2, and has her signed order appointing him to the bench.
His experience stretches back to 1990, when he went to work for the 13th Judicial District Court as a janitor, placed by the Youth Development, Inc., a youth and family service organization.
After a few days on the job, it was revealed Goldberg could type and he was given the assignment of typing up documents for microfilm. From there he became a clerk, then chief clerk and finally being named the chief executive officer for the district court.
In 2018, Goldberg was elected to his first term as Valencia County probate judge. He also served two terms on the Belen Board of Education and one term on The University of New Mexico-Valencia campus Advisory Board, and has been in real estate for the last six years.
“I have to give all that up,” he said with a chuckle.
Goldberg submitted his letter of resignation as probate judge on Friday, March 4, to the Valencia County Commission. The commissioners will appoint a replacement to the position to serve for the rest of Goldberg’s term, which ends in December.
Goldberg said he wasn’t running for the magistrate position due what he called the “hate” in current politics.
“It’s something that won’t be good for my family,” he said Monday after his swearing-in ceremony. “Maybe in a few years, when things are more civil.”
Goldberg called the chance to serve as a magistrate a “life-long dream. They say the first time you go to work for money, the second time for love. I am nervous and excited. A controlled excitement. I know what’s ahead of me.”
Working for the district for 25 years has helped Goldberg become very efficient at setting up case flows, he said.
“I am a nationally-certified case flow manager, so I can help cases get through as quick as I can with good results,” he said. “Being on the boards of education and a judge shows I can be fair and impartial. This is not about me.”
Before he can begin hearing cases, Goldberg has to complete mandatory training, anticipating he should be done by the end of this week.
“I know they have been busy. There has been a judge pro tem hearing cases but between Judge (Miles) Tafoya and I, I have to get up to speed,” he said. “I understand the case management system — it was the one used at district court — so this will be my second time around.”
Goldberg said he sat in on Judge John Chavez’ courtroom in Belen already and would sit in on other magistrates.
“I will be assigned a mentor judge,” he said. “Things seemed slow to get here but then once I knew I’d been appointed, things hit light speed.”
After Sanchez announced his retirement in November, eight Valencia County residents responded to the governor’s call for applications. Her top choice in that round — Peralta Municipal Judge Tracy Aragon — declined the appointment. Goldberg was among the other applicants.
The governor then put out a second call, asking for applicants to reply by mid January.
Goldberg took his oath of office for the magistrate position Monday afternoon.
No matter how long or short his time as magistrate is, Goldberg said he hopes he’s known to be fair, honest and consistent.
Anyone interested in filling the probate judge position should send a letter of interest by 12 p.m., Wednesday, March 16, to Valencia County manager Danny Monette at [email protected], or mail or hand deliver the letter to Valencia County Administration, 444 Luna Ave., Los Lunas, NM 87031.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.