In response to the article regarding Superior Court Judge Anna Montoya-Paez's domestic violence charges of Sept. 5, 2011 being dropped (NI, Dec. 27), so too should her membership to the exclusive club of "the powerful with their own set of life's rules."
As the founder and executive director of a domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking foundation and shelter in the Green Valley/Sahuarita area, I have sat in Judge Montoya-Paez's courtroom with domestic violence clients as a court room observer and can tell you my observation has been that the same "justice and equality" has not been extended in her courtroom that she received in her own domestic violence case.
It really is true. Special privilege, deals cut and extended to the powerful do exist and is in full operation in our court system.
The facts reported that Judge Montoya-Paez and her spouse were both charged on Sept. 5 with domestic violence. I quote from the newspaper article first reporting the incident: "According to a police report, officers went to Montoya-Paez's home in Vista Del Cielo on Sept. 5 at about 4:30 p.m. in response to a domestic violence report. She (Montoya-Paez) told investigators that a verbal argument with her husband had turned physical." This was Montoya-Paez's own admission to the officers who responded to the domestic violence call to her home on Sept. 5. Both parties were charged.
The dismissal of those charges in November against Superior Court Judge Anna Montoya-Paez is one of elite privilege. In her own courtroom, Judge Montoya-Paez would likely have assigned at the least extreme, anger management classes or a domestic violence diversion program. Why is this judge receiving special treatment? This same judge who has reigned judgment over dozens and dozens of domestic violence cases.
This is an elected officer of the court, as such, she can also not be re-elected and we should remember that when the time comes. I would recommend sending Judge Montoya-Paez and others a message that the voters decide her ultimate dismissal by calling the Superior Court Presiding Judge James Soto's office at (520) 375-7700 and requesting her dismissal. Our judicial leadership must be held to a higher standard than those they serve. They must be as accountable for their behavior as those they are seated before.
Baring her removal from the bench, we the people should be looking to support a new candidate to fill this vital and important position. A candidate who shows respect to the robe they wear and the citizens who gave them that honor.
(O'Berry is founder and executive director of Hands of a Friend and Genesis House Shelter; chair of the Arizona State Sexual Assault Network; member of the State Domestic Relations Committee; Pima and Santa Cruz County representative at the Halle Center for Family Justice, ASU School of Law.)