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She also acknowledged she had “created the appearance of impropriety” by participating in a phone conversation “that involved substantive matters and was outside the presence of the other party.”Singleton accepted the censure in a stipulation agreement with the Judicial Standards Commission that says her violation was “an isolated instance” but “created a highly publicized appearance of impropriety,” and that Singleton is a “well-respected judge with an excellent reputation.” Singleton stepped down from the Fed Ex case – which involved the 2011 deaths of a woman and her child when their car was hit by a Fed Ex truck in southern New Mexico and is now on appeal – soon after the trial concluded in January 2015.
Judge ‘chagrined’In her letter to Bustos, Singleton wrote, “I hope that my decision to not self-report was not erroneous and will not prejudice your consideration of my case.
She said she did not report herself to the commission because, after doing some research, it appeared that discipline had been meted out to judges in cases where there had been repeated ex parte communication violations or which “involved judges who violated the rule with the intent to help one side of the case, none of which applied in this instance.”She said she did try to comply with the Code of Judicial Conduct by quickly disclosing the ex parte communication to all parties “and permitting the defense to obtain my recusal.”The commission documents show that Singleton was notified that she was the target of investigation on April 21, three weeks after a Journal article on her recusal and the events that led up to it, including the ex parte phone conversation.
“But I certainly didn’t need to give any sort of clue as to what could be researched on the issues,” she said.
In a subsequent court hearing over the phone call, a lawyer for Fed Ex said the call reflected a “coziness” with Legate and that the judge had gone from umpire to “batting coach.”Singleton said at the hearing that she didn’t know if she should have hung up on Legate.
Randy Bartell, attorney for the defendant, Liquid Company Package Liquors in Santa Fe, said even while the purpose of the city ordinance is ‘’good and legitimate,” its very existence pre-empts state law, and as a home charter city, Santa Fe does not have the right to pass local laws that usurp state law.