Judge’s job is never dull

District Judge Stephen Quinn enjoys mending fences. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Mike Linn: CNJ news editor

For 15 years, Judge Stephen Quinn has presided over a myriad of cases in 9th Judicial District Court.

Boredom, he said, is as rare as the steaks at a cattlemen’s banquet.

“It’s never dull,” said Quinn, who said he often works 50- or 60-hour weeks.

Quinn was the highest paid state employee in Curry County in 2003, earning $86,896, according to records obtained by the Clovis News Journal. He presides over criminal, civil, probate and guardianship cases, among others.

Mending fences, though, is what Quinn enjoys most about his job.

“I enjoy the contact with people and try to help people solve their disputes peacefully,” Quinn said.

The lawyers he often works with in court are also among the state’s highest paid in Curry County.

District Attorney Brett Carter ($83,287) and District Public Defender Calvin Neumann ($70,015) are second and third, respectively, on the list of highest-paid state officials in Curry County.

Twelve of the 25 highest-paid state employees in Curry County work in the 9th Judicial District Court.

District Judge Joe Parker, who was appointed in September to fill the shoes of Judge Robert Brack, now a federal judge in Las Cruces, earns the same salary as Quinn. But since Parker began in the fall of 2003 his salary for the year didn’t put him in the top 25.

District Judge Teddy Hartley is paid out of the state budget for Roosevelt County, even though he, too, presides over cases in Curry County.

District judge’s salaries are set by state statute, Quinn said.
Quinn said there is a downside to his job: Presiding over cases involving juveniles, and repeat and violent offenders.
“Violent criminal trials are tough … it’s difficult to watch the families of victims and the families of defendants,” Quinn said.

Quinn especially feels for youngsters who don’t get the message that crime is a dead end.

“In the juvenile justice system most kids on probation learn from it — it’s frustrating when they don’t …” Quinn said.

Assistant District Attorney Andrea Reeb often tries criminal cases in Quinn’s court. She described him as an exceptional judge.

“He’s a very fair, honest man, and I think he’s a really good judge,” she said. “I can’t say a bad thing about him.”

Like Quinn, Reeb also enjoys her work, which is not always an eight-hour-a-day job.

“When certain people find a job that you really know you’re supposed to be doing — that’s kind of what it is for me. I feel like I fit. …”