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Magistrate Court judges take oaths of office

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McKinley County Magistrate Court judges formally took their oaths of office on Jan. 30.

Magistrate Judges Brent Detsoi, Cynthia Sanders and Virginia Yazzie officially took their oaths earlier this month at private ceremonies, allowing them to carry out their duties when their terms began.

Sanders has served on the magistrate court bench since 2010, and has been presiding judge since 2011. She started her judicial career in the magistrate court in 1981, working as court clerk and then court manager.

Yazzie was elected to the magistrate court in 2018, and has worked to implement a DWI treatment court. She hopes in the near future the magistrate court will be able to establish a DWI Healing to Wellness Court in collaboration with the Navajo Nation and the Pueblo of Zuni.

Judge Detsoi is the newest judge on the court, having won election in 2022. He is the youngest sitting magistrate judge in New Mexico.

Magistrate courts have limited jurisdiction and handle DWI cases, misdemeanors, traffic violations, civil actions up to $10,000 and hold preliminary hearings to determine probable cause on felony charges.