I formed my current solo practice to focus on providing consultation, co-counsel, and appellate counsel to other attorneys and law firms who need extra resources on a case-by-case basis to meet the challenges of appeals, trials, complex litigation, and other special projects.
To each case, I bring the benefits of over 20 years of broad engagement with the legal field, including judicial clerkships with the New Mexico Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court of New Mexico, and the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, service as deputy disciplinary counsel for the New Mexico courts' Disciplinary Board, and ten years of practice at a private law firm. I have also served on New Mexico’s Board of Legal Specialization and Code of Judicial Conduct Committee.
I have prosecuted and defended cases before New Mexico and federal appellate courts, trial courts, and administrative tribunals. In my decade of practice as an associate attorney for a private law firm, I served a diverse clientele ranging from indigent individuals and small business owners to high-profile public officials and government agencies. With a small team of other lawyers, I prosecuted and defended all phases of complex civil litigation in state and federal courts. I also defended criminal cases and handled various administrative proceedings. My work included extensive discovery and pretrial motions practice, as well as trials and appeals resulting in several published judicial opinions. My broad range of hands-on litigation experience allowed me to serve as a mentor to new lawyers in the firm and set the stage for my current work as a sole practitioner.
Early in my career, I was employed as deputy disciplinary counsel for the Disciplinary Board, a court agency which handles ethics complaints against attorneys in New Mexico. I investigated and prosecuted complaints accusing lawyers of violating the Rules of Professional Conduct. I handled each case from start to finish, including evidentiary hearings before administrative tribunals as well as oral argument presented to the Supreme Court of New Mexico. I also presented continuing legal education classes to attorneys on the subject of professional ethics.
Judicial clerkships provide top law-school graduates with invaluable experience working in a judge’s chambers and understanding how courts operate. I have more than ten years of judicial clerkship experience in three different courts. My first two clerkships were with New Mexico’s appellate courts. There I honed my skills as an appellate lawyer and gained experience with a wide array of civil, criminal, and administrative cases that make their way through the State’s court system.
My third judicial clerkship was an eight-year stint working for a federal district judge in Albuquerque, where I served in the courtroom during more than thirty trials. In addition to developing a working knowledge of federal practice and pretrial procedure, I learned how to craft jury instructions, verdict forms, and pretrial orders, assisted the judge with evidentiary rulings on the admissibility of exhibits and testimony, and helped to manage the conduct of complex trials from start to finish.
As the senior law clerk in the judge’s chambers, I was also expected to help train other chambers staff, keep track of the judge’s caseload, and serve on court committees. The District of New Mexico was one of the first federal courts in the nation to implement electronic filing, and I served on a committee that oversaw the transition from that filing system to the CM/ECF system that is currently used in federal courts nationwide. On two occasions, I also accompanied a district judge when she served by designation on panels of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver. I thus have experience working on judicial opinions in four different courts: the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, the Supreme Court of New Mexico, the New Mexico Court of Appeals, and the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico.
In my volunteer work for the bench and bar, I served on New Mexico’s Board of Legal Specialization from 2001 to 2007, when it operated as a court-regulated program of the Supreme Court of New Mexico. As Chairman of the Board during 2006 and 2007, I presided over board meetings and adjudicated the Board’s first administrative appeal. I also proposed and implemented amendments to the Board’s rules. I later served on New Mexico’s Code of Judicial Conduct Committee, which studied recent amendments to the ABA Model Rules of Judicial Conduct and developed revisions to New Mexico’s Code of Judicial Conduct.
Years before I went to law school, I worked as a paralegal while pursuing a Master of Humanities degree. I used the earnings from my day job as a paralegal to pay for night classes in graduate school. Building on my undergraduate education in the liberal arts, my interdisciplinary graduate studies included courses on philosophy, rhetoric, communication, political science, and community organizing. The combination of my academic knowledge and my day-to-day work as a paralegal gave me the critical thinking skills and practical experience which set the foundation for my success in law school.
During my first year at the University of New Mexico School of Law, I won a spot on a national moot court team. In my second year, I published a lead article in the Natural Resources Journal. In my third year, I won a nationwide legal writing competition, which resulted in the publication of another lead article in the Temple Law Review. I graduated second in my class in May 1996 and began the first of three judicial clerkships the day after I finished taking the bar exam that summer. I am the first person in my family to graduate from law school.