Meet the applicants for the open seat on the NM Court of Appeals.

Last Wednesday was the deadline for interested lawyers to file applications with the Judicial Nominating Commission to fill the seat being vacated by Chief Judge Celia Foy Castillo, who is not only entering upon a well-deserved retirement, but is also thrilled that her beloved Fighting Irish are 12-0.

So who are the hopeful applicants?  Let’s take a look… 

David K. Brooks.  According to the Bar Bulletin, he is an attorney at the New Mexico Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources. I’m afraid I was unable to find out much about him on the internet.

John H. “Jack” Clough, until recently the town attorney for Taos. This article in the Taos News contains some interesting information about his long career, including that he once argued a case before the Supreme Court of the United States.  That case was Lindsey v. Normet, 405 U.S. 56 (1972), which involved a constitutional challenge to Oregon’s statutory procedure for the eviction of residential tenants.

Judge Ned Fuller was the Republican nominee for the Court of Appeals in 2010, but was defeated by Robert Robles. Fortunately, a biographical page from his campaign website is still active, from which we learn that he learned to speak Japanese while serving as a Mormon missionary in Nagoya, Japan, later graduated with honors from BYU Law School, and served for three years as a Workers’ Compensation Judge. More information about him is available in this story in the Santa Fe New Mexican about his 2010 campaign.

Judge Miles Hanisee is presently a judge on the Court of Appeals, but was defeated in this year’s general election by District Judge Monica Zamora. I had the opportunity to interview him before the election, which you can read here.

Michelle Hernandez is one of my law partners (her Modrall Sperling profile is here), and at the risk of sounding biased, I can tell you she is a hard-working and very talented lawyer.  She is a graduate of UCLA Law School, and an expert in health law. Recently she unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for the New Mexico Supreme Court, but you can watch an interview of her here, and her remarks to Democratic central committee members here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Judge Judith Nakamura of the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court, a Republican who was appointed to that post by former Governor Gary Johnson. In 2010, when she last faced the voters, the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission recommended that she be retained. I have never appeared before her, but she seems to be a tough person – she had a run-in with Governor Richardson, barred police from carrying guns in the courthouse, and the Wall Street Journal had this article about her successful battle with cancer.

Correction: I referred to Judith Nakamura as a “Judge” of the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court, when in fact she is the Chief Judge. In addition, Chief Judge Nakamura sent me a very nice e-mail to explain that Governor Johnson did not appoint her to the Metropolitan Court. Rather, she defeated Governor Johnson’s nominee in the Republican primary, and then won the general election. Chief Judge Nakamura also explained that the courthouse where she works was designed with a gun room for storing weapons carried by law enforcement officers, and that the judges of the Court enacted the gun policy.

Arthur W. Pepin is the Director of New Mexico’s Administrative Office of the Courts. This online interview about his work also contains a biographical sketch, which states that Mr. Pepin is a graduate of the University of Washington Law School, served in the Army JAG Corps, and worked in Philadelphia and New Jersey before coming to New Mexico, where he was head of the Attorney General’s Appeals Division under Patricia Madrid.

Good luck to all of the applicants!  The Judicial Nominating Commission will interview all of the applicants on Tuesday, December 4, beginning at 9:00 a.m. in the Court of Appeals courtroom in the Supreme Court Building in Santa Fe. The public is invited to attend.

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