New Mexico State Senator Richard Martinez, age 66, was first elected to the chamber of the New Mexico State Senate in 2000 representing Senate District 5 which includes the counties of Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Sandoval and Santa Fe. Martinez is a graduate from the Central New Mexico Technical Vocation Institute. His professional experience includes serving as a Magistrate Judge for 14 years and he is retired from that position and is paid a pension. He served four years as the Rio Arriba County Treasurer and the Senator has also served as the Rio Arriba Democratic Party Chairman and was elected in 2010 to serve as Chairman of the Hispanic Caucus of New Mexico State Legislators
On Friday, June 30, 2019, State Senator Richard Martinez was arrested for suspected drunk driving. Police reported that Martinez admitted to drinking after rear-ending a car in Espanola. A driver told police Martinez rear-ended him at a red light at Paseo de Onate and Fairview Lane in Espanola late at night. An officer said he could smell alcohol coming from Martinez’s car and that when he asked Martinez how much he’s had to drink, Martinez changed his story a few times.
The incident report said the state senator failed field sobriety tests and while being booked into jail, he told officers in part “are you serious,” and refused to take a breath test. According to the incident report, he first said that he had one or two beers. He then said that it might have been more than that then claiming he “actually drank three glasses of wine.”
When Senator Richard Martinez was first arrested for his DWI, Governor Lujan Grisham did not call for Martinez’s resignation but said no one is above the law and that elected officials should be held to a higher standard. The Governor added the longtime lawmaker should think about his position as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee as well as the message that the case sends to a community besieged by crime related to alcohol and drugs. She expressed hoped that Martinez “does the right thing.”
On Friday, August 23, 2019, it was reported that Senator Richard Martinez plans to remain in office and will seek reelection next year. While attending a legislative hearing in Los Alamos, he was asked if he plans to remain in the Legislature and he responded:
“Of course. I have no intention to resign and I’m running for reelection, too.”
NEW MEXICO POLITIC’S WITH JOE MONAHAN
Long time political blogger Joe Monahan in his August 16, 2019 blog post had this to say about Senator Richard Martinez defiance:
“ … [I] t’s not certain that Martinez will face a primary challenger.
His district is 65 percent Democratic so he obviously sees an escape route from the humiliating video that has come to define him to the state, even as supporters argue his long record of service should excuse his behavior. But at 66 shouldn’t he know better?
Martinez and his fellow lawmakers have spent countless hours and appropriated millions of dollars to address the state’s chronic DWI problem. His district is home to some of the highest rates of substance abuse in the nation. His refusal to take the high road and resign makes the stench of hypocrisy waft even stronger over him, the legislature and the Democratic Party. Not to mention that he chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee that authors the DWI laws applied to the citizenry.
Martinez’s exaggerated narcissism in the face of disgrace seems not to bother any of them one bit. Will it bother his district enough to generate an able opponent? Or will we see the Governor, who says elected officials like Martinez must be held to a higher standard, give him the pen she uses to sign the next piece of DWI legislation?”
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
As the old saying goes “power is intoxicating”. Political power and influence can become so intoxicating that it often makes one believe that they are above the law and that they should not be held to the same standards as everyone else. Senator Martinez does not even issue any statement of regret nor any sort of an apology to his constituents.
Senator Richard Martinez has now shown just how intoxicated with power he has become when he does not do the right thing, refuses to resign and in the same breath goes on to declare that he is running for reelection. At a bare minimum, Senator Martinez should be removed immediately as the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
There is no doubt that former Judge Richard Martinez during his 14 years as a magistrate judge, had many charged with DWI who went before before him. He also knows the that the Code of Judicial Code would have made him resign as a magistrate in that the code makes it clear he was held higher standard and was required to avoid the appearance of impropriety. It is common knowledge that when a person is arrested for the 1st time, it is usually not the first time they have driven drunk.
As a State Senator, he is also held to a higher standard.
Senator Martinez has now plead “not guilty” to the charges and says he is running for another 4-year term. Martinez like everyone else is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and due process of law. As a retired magistrate judge, Martinez knows full well how serious the charges are and what the right thing he should do, which is to resign, but he will not.
Given his failure to pass a sobriety test and the video of his statements in the hospital, his due process of law will in all likely result in a conviction or a guilty plea to the charges and he should resign then. If he does not resign, his constituent’s need to sentence him to retirement come election time.
It would be the right thing to do.