Aztec Magistrate Judge Carla Vescovi-Dial hasn't worked in two weeks as she continues to recover from a car accident June 30 in Farmington that involved an alleged drunken driver, said Pat Simpson, the deputy director of the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Vescovi-Dial, one of six magistrate judges in San Juan County, will return to her position once she is ready, Simpson said.
Junior Yazzie, 54, was arrested and charged with a felony DWI after the accident, said Farmington Police Lt. Bruce Holiday.
He was also charged with child abuse, providing alcohol to a minor, driving with a suspended or revoked license, driving with an open container, careless driving and refusing to submit to a blood-alcohol test, Holiday said.
The accident happened near the entrance to Animas Valley Mall, at 4601 East Main St., at about 8:30 p.m. Yazzie also is suspected of being involved in two other hit-and-run accidents in Farmington that evening before he collided with the judge, who was a passenger, Holiday said.
There was a 15-year-old female and an 18-year-old male in the car with Yazzie. Both of the teenagers were taken to San Juan Regional Medical to be treated for minor injuries.
Simpson did not provide information about Vescovi-Dial's condition other than to say: "Judge Dial is a tough lady ... we expect her back reasonably soon."
She will be allowed to work flexible hours as she recovers, he said.
Once Vescovi-Dial returns to work, Simpson said the judge will hear her normal cases. She will continue to be able to hear drunken driving cases, which comprise a significant portion of local magistrate judges' caseloads.
She will not be able to rule on the case that resulted in her own injury, Simpson said.
"Everybody is human. We all have been victims of (a crime) of one kind or another," he said. "I don't expect she will miss a beat."
Local magistrate judges are able to handle local cases in Vescovi-Dial's absence, Simpson said.
Magistrate judges hear misdemeanor crimes and decide to bind felony cases to district court after preliminary hearings.
There was a vacant magistrate judge position in San Juan County for more than six months before New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez appointed Gary McDaniel in April to serve as Magistrate Judge District 4. The position had been vacant since Magistrate Judge Wilma Charley retired Sept. 30, 2011.
Yazzie refused to consent to a blood-alcohol test after the crash. He reportedly had bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol after the accident. A nearly empty bottle of vodka and a case of beer were found in his vehicle.