There Goes the Judge

June 22nd, 2007 by

Chris Berkheimer was appointed as a judge in the New Mexico workers compensation system on May 5, 2007. Six days later, he was placed on leave from the $93,400-a-year job. What happened in the interim? He was involved in a mediation. During a break, he propositioned the injured worker (a woman), even though (unknown to the judge) the video camera was still operating. Of course, the wheels of justice grind exceedingly fine, so we will probably never know what the judge said to the woman. We will never know much of anything about this case. Berkheimer, dismissing the charges as “not true and ridiculous,” has resigned.
Berkheimer stated in his letter of resignation to Governor Bill Richardson that “the best way for me to fight (the allegations) and protect my family was to resign.” Read that comment three times and see if you can make any sense of it. (I thought the way to protect one’s interests is to fight back – in court, no less!)
The state has agreed to pay the former judge $10,700 – 6 weeks pay – to forgo a state hearing. Berkheimer has agreed not to sue (for what?). And the critical part of the deal, of course, is that the report on the incident will not be released. The judge’s inappropriate proposition, backed up by a video, have been sealed.
With any luck, the video will find its way to YouTube. In the meantime, we are left to contemplate the delicate state of trust that comprises the foundation of our legal system. Judge Roy Pearson, Jr. loses a pair of pants to a dry cleaner and sues for $54 million (it was a nice pair of pants). Judge Berkheimer lusts after a woman trying to collect workers comp. These two clowns no longer sit in judgment, but we can only hope that reasonably judicious people will take their places on the bench.