BIOGRAPHY

PERSONAL

    (1) Born in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Married to Nancy Mitcham for 50 years; four children and eight grandchildren;

     (2) Bilingual (English & Spanish);

     (3) Presently reside in the Austin, Texas metropolitan area, with offices in that location.



WORK EXPERIENCE

     (1)February 2017 to present: I was appointed by Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt (and approved by the Travis County Commissioners) to serve as Visiting Judge for the office of the Justice of the Peace, Travis County of the State of Texas, serving as such by request and selection of each of the five precinct judges to preside over cases and the court docket within Travis County when called upon to do so.

     (2)August 2013 to present: criminal defense, administrative law, arbitration/mediation/hearing officer. In the summer of 2014, I participated in a week-long judicial program during a 10-day stay in West Africa. Our team included a U. S. federal judge and two Canadian colleagues. Sponsored by the State Department, the program involved 38 judges, including 12 women, from the countries of Ghana, Liberia, and Nigeria. My main focus in the presentations was judicial independence, the concept that judges should be kept separate from other branches of government and shouldn’t be subject to influence from private or special interest groups.

    (3) July 2000 to August 2013: arbitration/mediation/hearing officer/judge pro tem services.

      (a) Since my retirement as a judge on the New Mexico Court of Appeals, I have been assigned to numerous litigated court cases for settlement facilitation (mediation) and arbitration. I have been designated or assigned to several solo and 3-panel arbitration cases. I was also selected by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to arbitrate some of the claims against the federal government as a result of the Cerro Grande fires in Los Alamos, New Mexico. On various occasions, I have been either court appointed or selected by the parties to act as arbitrator/hearing officer in appeals from teacher termination cases involving local school boards and public schools throughout New Mexico. In addition, in the past, I was under contract with the County of Dona Ana, State of New Mexico, to provide services as an arbitrator in resolving employee grievances or disputes with management. I was also designated by the County of Dona Ana to preside as hearing officer at probable cause hearings involving forfeiture of motor vehicles operated by drivers with a suspended or revoked driver’s license. In December of 2007, having been appointed as a hearing officer by the Cabinet Secretary of the Environment Department, State of New Mexico, I presided at a landfill application hearing in Sunland Park, New Mexico. The hearing, which was the longest solid waste disposal hearing ever in New Mexico, required 15 full days of testimony and documentary evidence, each day consisting of 9 to 12 hours of evidence. The hearing transcript consisted of almost 6,000 pages and required my submittal of a 314-page report to the Cabinet Secretary with my proposed findings, conclusions, and recommendations. Presently, I am handling arbitration cases through Texas Rural Mediation Services in Lubbock, Texas. These cases are governed under American Arbitration Association rules and guidelines and consist mostly of crop damage insurance claims and disputes involving farmers and various insurance companies.

      (b) I have been assigned as judge pro tem and special master in various New Mexico state court proceedings.

    (4) January 1987 to June 2000: Judge, New Mexico Court of Appeals; Chief Judge from December 1994 to January 1997.

    (5) August 1964 to December 1986: Practice of law in Las Cruces as a solo practitioner.

      (a) General character of practice: Extensive trial practice, some appellate practice, criminal law, contracts, torts, administrative law and proceedings, adoptions, business and corporate law, real estate law, civil rights litigation and proceedings, administrative law, and municipal law.

      (b) Description of typical clients and nature of practice: General counsel and town attorney for the Town of Mesilla, an incorporated village. General counsel for the school board of the Gadsden Independent School District. Appointed Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of New Mexico by the Attorney General to represent the New Mexico Highway Department in selected condemnation (eminent domain) cases in Dona Ana County. Represented Citizens Bank of Las Cruces as general counsel for nine years. During the first ten years of practice, concentrated heavily on criminal defense work. Later concentrated as a trial attorney representing plaintiffs and some defendants in personal injury, products liability, and wrongful death cases.

    (6) October 1964 to October 1966: active duty in military; Branch of Service: United States Army Security Agency; security clearance: top-secret crypto; honorably discharged with rank of Captain; served on ready reserve status from June 1961 to October, 1964. While on active duty, stationed at USASA Headquarters, Southern Command, Ft. Clayton, Canal Zone as Signal Security Officer; duties included inspection of crypto-facilities throughout the Canal Zone, Puerto Rico, and at the U. S. Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia.

    (7) Overall, having been admitted to the New Mexico bar in August of 1964 and the Texas bar in December of 2000, during a period of over 53 years, I've been engaged in the practice of law or served as a mediator, arbitrator, appellate judge, trial judge as judge pro tempore in the State of New Mexico, and Visiting Judge for the five Justice of the Peace precincts in Travis County, State of Texas.



EDUCATION

    (1) Graduated with honors from New Mexico State University in June, 1961; Bachelor of Science degree (in mathematics)

    (2) Graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in June 1964; Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree.


QUALIFICATIONS

    In holding the public offices listed in this biographical sketch, and my broad experience as a practicing attorney, together with my tenure as an appellate judge, I have had a wide range of dealings with people from all walks of life. I have attempted to exercise compassion, understanding and patience in those endeavors. I believe my direct involvement as an appellate judge in writing 1,127 opinions, specially concurring opinions and dissents, together with participating in 1,823 other opinions, have laid a strong foundation for me as a criminal defense and administrative law attorney,mediator, settlement facilitator, special master, and arbitrator. This diverse experience has given me a broad perspective of human nature that hopefully enriches a person with temperament, wisdom, and a common-sense approach that will benefit the bench, the bar, and the general public in the settlement of disputes.


ADMISSION TO PRACTICE

     All state courts in New Mexico, August 1964; all state courts in Texas, December 2000; United States Supreme Court, December 1971; United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit), January 1965; United States District Court, District of New Mexico, October 1964.

ORGANIZATION AND COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIPS

    (1) Bar associations and professional societies (past and present): Member, State Bar of Texas; Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA); Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (ACDLA); Williamson County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (WCCDLA); Williamson County Bar Association; Founding President of American Inn of Court, South-Central New Mexico Charter No. 30250; ABA Appellate Judges Conference; ABA Council of Chief Judges; New Mexico Bar Association; New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association; Hispanic National Bar Association; Dona Ana County Bar Association; PEN Center USA West; PEN New Mexico; Georgetown Club of New Mexico; United States Tennis Association (USTA); Las Cruces Tennis Club; American Bar Association; Association of Trial Lawyers of America; New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association; National Legal Aid and Defender Association; First Judicial District Bar Association; Institute of Judicial Administration; Judicial Fellow of the New Mexico Bar Foundation; American Institute of Banking; Las Cruces Board of Realtors; National Association of Realtors; Realtors Association of New Mexico; Las Cruces Homebuilders Association; National Association of Homebuilders; International Platform Society.

    (2) Charitable or communal activities (past and present): New Mexico State University President's Associates; Board of Trustees, American Southwest Theater Company; Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce; New Mexico GI Forum; Director, Las Cruces Community Arts Center Foundation; Museum of New Mexico Foundation; Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges; Greater Las Cruces Industrial Development Board.

    (3) Other organizations and associations (past and present) other than bar associations or professional associations or professional societies, including civic, charitable, religious, educational, social and fraternal organizations: Board of Visitors, an advisory board of Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas; Board of Directors, Citizens Bank of Las Cruces; Board of Directors, Amador Bancshares (a bank-holding company);Advisory Board, Mesilla Valley Hospital; Governor's Coordinating Council for Higher Education (1976-78); New Mexico State University Board of Regents (1976-83) (President and Vice President); Advisor to Registrants, Dona Ana County Selective Service Board.


HONORS AND RECOGNITIONS

    Seth D. Montgomery Distinguished Judicial Service Award, awarded by the State Bar of New Mexico, June 2001; Outstanding Judicial Service Award, awarded by the State Bar of New Mexico, October 2000; New Mexico State University Hiram Hadley Founders’ Award of Excellence, June 2000; 1996 Outstanding Alumnus Award, College of Arts & Sciences, New Mexico State University (awarded at awards presentation on October 26, 1996); Special Recognition Award, New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association (awarded at annual banquet in May, 1996); New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association's Certificate of Recognition for contributions made in public service (awarded at NMHBA's annual banquet in 1994; National Hispanic Bar Association's Award and Certificate of Recognition for contributions made to the judiciary (awarded at HNBA's annual convention held in Albuquerque in 1988); Certificate of Recognition from the Speaker of the House of Representatives of New Mexico, for outstanding contributions to the State of New Mexico—circa 1988; Outstanding Alumnus of College of Arts and Sciences, New Mexico State University; April 1988, during centennial year celebration; American Southwest Theater Company 1985 award for service to the ASTC Board of Trustees; Commendation award by the New Mexico State University Board of Regents in February 1983 for service and contributions to the university; Service Award for Distinguished Voluntary Leadership in the fight against birth defects from the National Foundation of the March of Dimes—1969; Phi Kappa Phi Honorary Society; Listed in Who's Who in American Law, 1st and later editions; Who's Who in the West, 22nd Edition; Listed in Who's Who Among Hispanic Americans; Listed in Who's Who Among Fiction Writers & Poets; Listed in Men of Achievement, 13th Edition; Member, Poets & Writers, Inc.; Member, PEN Center USA West; Member, PEN New Mexico; Member, American Mensa Society; Member, Intertel; Listed in Dictionary of International Biography; Listed in Directory of American Poets & Fiction Writers; International Authors and Writers Who's Who; University Honors: Blue Key Honorary Service Fraternity; Phi Mu Tau Honorary (Vice President); Alpha Psi Omega Honorary; Nu Mu Alpha Honorary.


LECTURES, PRESENTATIONS, AND PARTICIPATIONS

     Pro Se Litigants—An Ethical Dilemma?, an essay presented for a webcast presentation entitled Pro Bono/Pro Se Issues: Conflicts for Justice? and produced/broadcast by the State Bar of Texas on June 18, 2009 via the Internet; Video presentation entitled The Law and Mental Illness, as part of a video module on mental illness and the courts, produced to train law enforcement officers throughout the United States in dealing with the mentally ill (taped at New Mexico State University on February 27, 2007; Featured Speaker at NAACP-Dona Ana County Branch’s “Race to Vote” Banquet, NMSU, October 26, 2000; Guest Speaker at New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation’s annual student research conference, NMSU, September 29, 2000; Guest Speaker at Martin Luther King Annual Breakfast, NMSU, January 4, 2000; Participant at Law Day activities sponsored by Dona Ana Bar Association, Las Cruces, May, 1996; Address at Annual Dinner, New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association, Albuquerque, May 4, 1996; Commencement Address at graduation ceremonies, Dona Ana Branch Community College, NMSU, May 12, 1995; Address at Transition Ceremony, Primero Los Ninos, September 17, 1995; Participant at Law Day activities sponsored by Court of Appeals and Dona Ana County Bar Association, Las Cruces, May, 1994; Participant and Small Group Facilitator at Just-Solutions: A Public Forum on the Justice System, sponsored by the ABA, Lansdowne, Virginia, May 1-3, 1994; Welcoming Address at Environmental Law Conference sponsored by State Justice Institute and New Mexico Judicial Education Center, July 29-30, 1993; Panelist and presenter at Forum on Judicial Selection (sponsored by the New Mexico Women's Bar Association), at New Mexico State Bar Convention, Ruidoso, September 25, 1992; Panelist at 2nd Annual Appellate Practice Institute, on appellate practice, briefing and oral argument, August 23, 1991, Santa Fe; Panelist and lecturer on Effective Oral Argument at New Mexico State Bar Convention, October 1991, Albuquerque; Lecturer and facilitator at Hispanic Leadership Training Program, NMSU, Las Cruces, March 9, 1990; Lecture presentation at Advanced Public Defender Training Conference (sponsored by the New Mexico Public Defender Department), May 16-18, 1990, Las Cruces; Keynote Speaker at naturalization ceremony, U.S. District Court, Las Cruces, October 13, 1989; Lecturer on appellate practice at New Mexico State Bar Convention, October 1988, in Ruidoso; Presenter and lecturer at Martin Luther King Celebration, Albuquerque Convention Center, Albuquerque, January 15, 1987; Guest lecturer in numerous university and high school classes in government and social services, and luncheon speaker at civic clubs and local bar association meetings.


PUBLICATIONS

    Essays/Speeches:

    1. Let Us Open Our Eyes ; published in the August 28, 2006 issue of the New Mexico Bar Bulletin, Volume 45, No. 35, and in the South Carolina Trial Lawyer Bulletin (Summer 2007 Issue).

    2. On Racism—How Prevalent Is It?; published in the Spring 2001 issue of the New Mexico Bar Journal, Volume 7, No. 1.

    3. Is Our Brush Too Broad?; published in the May/June issue of the New Mexico Bar Journal, Volume 2, No. 3. Published verbatim from an address given at the Annual Dinner, New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association at the Doubletree Hotel, Albuquerque, on May 4, 1996.

    4. The Law and Mental Illness; video presentation for a program produced in 2007 at New Mexico State University to train police officers nationwide in Crisis Intervention Training, under the auspices of the National Sheriffs Association.

    5. Pro Se Litigants--An Ethical Dilemma?; an essay prepared for a webcast presentation entitled Pro Bono/Pro Se Issues: Conflicts for Justice? and produced/broadcast by the State Bar of Texas on June 18, 2009 via the Internet.

    6. Stereotyping—Who’s Eating Whose Crackers?; delivered at the annual Martin Luther King Breakfast, Corbett Center, New Mexico State University, on January 14, 2000.

    7. The Expedited Bench Decision Process; published in the January/February issue of the New Mexico Bar Journal, Volume 1, No. 1.

    Commentaries/Articles:

     1. Death Penalty, in practice, just isn't working out ; published in the July 2, 2011 issue of the Austin American-Statesman, (Copyrighted 2011)

     2. Together, we can all make a difference; published in the September 24, 2011 issue of the Austin American-Statesman, (Copyrighted 2011)

     3. A story, an assumption and an opportunity to learn from it; published in the February 25, 2012 issue of the Austin American-Statesman, (Copyrighted 2012)

     4. Partisan elections are not best way to choose judges; published in the January 29, 2015 issue of the Austin American-Statesman, (Copyrighted 2015)

     5. Lessons of law from West Africa; published in the April 13, 2015 issue of the Austin American-Statesman, (Copyrighted 2015)

     6. Thank those great teachers who shaped best part of us ; published in the June 4, 2015 issue of the Austin American-Statesman, (Copyrighted 2015)

     7. Bail bond requirements unfair to inmates, costly to taxpayers ; published in the October 28, 2015 issue of the Austin American-Statesman, (Copyrighted 2015)

     8. Addressing mental health key in helping Austin's homeless ; published in the Frebruary 10, 2016 issue of the Austin American-Statesman, (Copyrighted 2016)

     9. Are Hispanics in the U. S. a unified voting bloc? ; published in the April 2, 2016 issue of the Austin American-Statesman, (Copyrighted 2016)

     10. We've come a long way in fighting racism-but we still have far to go; published in the May 12, 2016 issue of the Austin American-Statesman. (Copyrighted 2016)

     11. Jury system far from perfect, but makes justice system the best; published in the December 8, 2016 issue of the Austin American-Statesman. (Copyrighted 2016)

     12. Trinity site offers visitors a reminder of the horrors of war; published in the December 28, 2016 issue of the Austin American-Statesman. (Copyrighted 2016)

     13. Misconceptions, rhetoric about judiciary help make it a target; published in the May 14, 2017 edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2017)

     14. No help for those spiraling under law; published in the June 18, 2017 edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2017)

     15. Adversarial system flawed way of finding 'truth'; published in the August 1, 2017 edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2017)

     16. As in the past, today's youth getting bum rap; published in the September 10, 2017 edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2017)

     17. The beginning of the end for the United States?; published in the October 15, 2017 edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2017)

     18. The Story of Virgil Hawkins; published on this website on October 5, 2015 (Copyrighted 2015)

      19. Essay on Faith; published on this website on October 5, 2015 (Copyrighted 2015)

     20. The Elusiveness of Happiness; published on this website on October 5, 2015 (Copyrighted 2015)

     21. The Decline of American Politics; published on this website on October 5, 2015 (Copyrighted 2015)


OTHER INTERESTS

    (1) Sports such as sail boating, both water and snow skiing, tennis, and racquetball, as well as hobbies and other interests such as creative writing, sculpting, calligraphy, needlepoint, chess, coin collecting, playing the guitar and piano, and gardening.

    (2) Author of (i) A Rare Thing, a novel (published 2012); (ii) Pursuit, a novel (published 2003; Finalist Award in ForeWord Magazine's 2003 Book of the Year Awards); (iii) The Waxen Image, a novel (published 1977); (iv) A Rare Thing, a screenplay; (v) Bataan—The Untold Story, a screenplay.

(Revised: 10-20-2017)