Eight apply for NM Supreme Court vacancy

The Santa Fe New Mexican has this story about the eight judges and lawyers who applied for the upcoming vacancy on the New Mexico Supreme Court by yesterday’s deadline.

The New Mexico Judicial Nominating Commission will interview the applicants on Monday, October 19, at the Supreme Court Building in Santa Fe, starting at 9:00 a.m. The meeting is open to the public. You can see who’s on the Nominating Commission at this link.

Here is a list of the applicants in alphabetical order (if you know of any other interesting facts about these applicants, please drop me an e-mail):

1.  Judge Gary L. Clingman of the Fifth Judicial District Court, which covers Lea, Eddy, and Chaves counties in southeastern New Mexico. He has served on that court since 1997. He obtained his undergraduate degree at the University of Texas, and his law degree from Texas Tech Law School. I wrote about Judge Clingman and his candidacy here. He is a Republican.

2.  Paul W. Grace, a lawyer in Santa Fe. I’m afraid I don’t know anything about Mr. Grace, other than what I’ve read in this story about his application earlier this year for a seat on the First Judicial District Court. Mr. Grace is originally from New York City, graduated from law school in Los Angeles in 1978, and worked on the east coast before practicing law in Santa Fe. I do not know his party affiliation, if any.

3.  Diana Martwick is the District Attorney of New Mexico’s Twelfth Judicial District, which encompasses Otero and Lincoln counties. I also don’t know much about Ms. Martick, but this article in Alamogordo Daily News notes that she was victorious in a battle with cancer, so obviously she is someone with perseverance. Ms. Martwick is a Republican.

4.  Judge Judith Nakamura of the Second Judicial District Court in Albuquerque. She formerly served as the energetic Chief Judge of the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court, and has faced personal adversity, overcoming a battle with cancer (see this article in the Wall Street Journal about her). In 2012 she applied for a seat on the Court of Appeals, and I wrote about her application here and here. Governor Martinez appointed Judge Miles Hanisee to that seat, but also appointed Judge Nakamura to her present position on the district court. Judge Nakamura is a Republican.

5. Frank Susman is a lawyer at Spencer Fane, a St. Louis, Missouri law firm. He also resides in Santa Fe. According to his law firm website profile, he has argued six cases in the Supreme Court of the United States. These include arguing in favor of abortion rights in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, Singleton v. Wulff, Poelker v. Doe, Planned Parenthood Association of Kansas City v. Ashcroft, and Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth. Interestingly, Mr. Susman is not a member of the New Mexico State Bar, but Article VI, Section 8 of the New Mexico Constitution doesn’t require that he be one. The provision requires only that: (1) a justice be at least 35 years old; (2) he or she must have been in the “actual practice of law” for at least 10 years preceding assumption of office; and (3) he or she must have resided in New Mexico “for at least three years immediately preceding” assumption of office. I don’t know his party affiliation.

6.  Judge Linda M. Vanzi of the New Mexico Court of Appeals. After graduating from UNM Law School in 1995, she entered private practice until 2004, when Governor Richardson appointed her to the Second Judicial District Court. In 2009 she was appointed to the Court of Appeals. Judge Vanzi has a varied background: born in Pakistan, she graduated from college in 1977, worked as a health and safety engineer, and also owned a small business before trying her hand at the law. Judge Vanzi is a Democrat.

7.  Chief Judge Michael E. Vigil of the New Mexico Court of Appeals, who has served there since 2003, when Governor Richardson appointed him to the post. After graduating from Georgetown Law School in 1976, he served as a staff attorney on the Court of Appeals, then moved into private practice where he gained extensive litigation experience in civil and criminal law. Chief Judge Vigil is a Democrat.

8.  Hon. Samuel L. Winder, who formerly worked at my law firm, and also served as one of Governor Martinez’s appointees on the Second Judicial District Court, though he did not win his electoral race in 2014. He is a member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, received his undergraduate education at Stanford University, his J.D. from UNM Law School, and also previously worked as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He is a Republican.

UPDATE (Oct. 13, 2015): Does anyone know whether there has been a Native American justice on the New Mexico Supreme Court? I’m just wondering whether former Judge Winder would be the first Native American justice on the Court if he were appointed. I’ve also been informed that he is half African-American, and I’m pretty confident he would be the first African-American justice.

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