Heath White preliminary exam goes before Duane Castleberry

Retired Clovis magistrate judge Duane Castleberry will be seated in Moriarty magistrate court for Heath White’s preliminary hearing, according to a state Supreme Court notice of assignment May 13.

A summons by the magistrate court in Moriarty orders White to appear May 28 at 10 a.m.

According to Barry Massey, spokesperson for New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts, Castleberry will hold the seat until there is a disposition in White’s case.

White voluntarily stepped aside as stipulated in the Judicial Code of Conduct following the filing of charges against him May 2, Massey said.

Retired Moriarty magistrate judge Steve Jones has been serving as temporary judge between White leaving and Castleberry’s assignment, according to Massey.

Massey told The Independent the Judicial Standards Commission launched its own investigation into White’s conduct, which runs parallel to the criminal investigation.

On May 10, the Supreme Court accepted a petition filed by the Judicial Standards Commission April 19 and issued an order to suspend White without pay pending the outcome of his case, according to court documents.

Massey explained that during a preliminary examination the prosecution must show probable cause that the defendant committed a crime, and if that criteria is met, the case is bound over for trial in district court—in this case in Estancia. 

White was charged May 2 with six felonies related to his time as Torrance County Sheriff, a post he held for eight years. He was elected magistrate judge in November, 2018.

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