ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The presiding Family Court judge in Albuquerque has recused herself from hearing any cases involving an Albuquerque mother who was court-ordered to attend religious-based mediation services.
According to a court document obtained by KRQE News 13, District Court Judge Elizabeth Whitefield ordered all other Family Court judges to recuse themselves from hearing the cases as well.
Holly Salzman is trying to work through custody issues with her ex-husband. Late last year she was ordered to attend co-parenting classes run by Mary Pepper. Salzman says Pepper opened each of the first two sessions by saying a prayer. In later classes, Salzman says Pepper gave her Christian-based hand-outs and homework.
After KRQE News 13 first called District Court asking about the court-ordered course, court officials terminated their relationship with Pepper. Officials say they no longer use her services. Court officials also reviewed all other Family Court outside providers to make sure there are no religious overtones unless a client specifically asks for religious-based counseling.
A spokesman for District Court would not comment on the recusals Monday, citing the state’s Judicial Code of Conduct. It is unclear which judge will oversee Salzman’s case going forward.