Gov. Bill Richardson Appoints Criminal Defense Lawyer to NM Supreme Court

My opinion of Gov. Bill Richardson has just grown by leaps and bounds. He has appointed veteran criminal defense lawyer Charlie Daniels (a real criminal defense lawyer, by the way, who truly believes in and has been passionate about defending the rights of the accused his entire career) to be a Justice on the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Charlie, whom I've known for 15 years or more (along with his wife Randi McGinn, a stellar criminal defense lawyer in her own right), will be sworn in on November 9.

Here's the announcement from the Governor's office (no link, I received it by e-mail.)

SANTA FE - Governor Bill Richardson has appointed Albuquerque lawyer Charles W. Daniels to serve as a Justice on the New Mexico Supreme Court.

"Charles Daniels exemplifies the qualities necessary to serve on New Mexico's highest court," said Governor Richardson. "I am confident that Charles Daniels' leadership, work ethic and impeccable integrity will be a tremendous asset to the state Supreme Court."

Charles Daniels replaces Justice Pamela B. Minzner, who passed away in August after a distinguished career on the bench.

Mr. Daniels has been a senior partner of the Friedman, Boyd, Daniels, Hollander, Goldberg and Ives law firm in Albuquerque for more than thirty years. Daniels was admitted to the New Mexico Bar in 1969.

"I chose Charles Daniels for the Supreme Court given his keen intellect, outstanding reputation and unwavering commitment to uphold the rule of law," Governor Bill Richardson said.

Daniels grew up in Albuquerque. He and his wife, attorney Randi McGinn live in Albuquerque.

Charles Daniels earned his bachelors degree in fine arts from the University of Arizona. Daniels graduated first in his class at the University of New Mexico School of Law and served as a Prettyman Fellow at Georgetown University Law Center where he received a masters of law degree in trial advocacy. He also served as a Professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law.

Daniels has been recognized by his legal peers with the highest Martindale-Hubbell "AV" ratings, he is a member of the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers and has been recognized as one of the "Best Lawyers in America," for the past two decades.

Daniels served as both a full-time and part-time law professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law over the course of several years and continues to teach litigation related topics at courses and seminars across the country to lawyers and judges.

The appointment is effective until the next general election in 2008.

Charlie is also a great musician. His band, Lawyers, Guns and Money, used to play at many of our defense organization events.

Congratulations, Charlie! And to Governor Richardson, you rock!

Update: And to those of you who are complaining our Democratic candidates are too centrist, remember that Republicans put tough-on-crime prosecutors on the bench. The quality of our federal judiciary will vastly improve with a Democratic president.

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    Outstanding choice (none / 0) (#1)
    by larrythered on Fri Nov 02, 2007 at 02:00:40 PM EST
    Being a NM criminal defense lawyer myself for many years, I can also attest to what a great selection this is. There were a number of excellent candidates for Richardson to pick from. Although politics might have played a part here, since Daniels is a Richardson supporter and a founder/leader of the NM Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Charlie is nevertheless an outstanding choice by any measure.

    Hooray! (none / 0) (#2)
    by scribe on Fri Nov 02, 2007 at 02:40:20 PM EST
    Someone to counteract the career ladder for entirely too many prosecutors - first the head prosecutor's office, then the judgeship, then the appellate judgeship.

    It's sad, though, that the appointment of a defense lawyer to a judgeship is so extraordinary that everyone sits up and takes notice....

    PS - I'd like to think Richardson was reading my diary "If I Were President", particulary "Second week, #12", which reads:

    I'd start vetting - and maybe making - judicial appointments.  I'd make my selection criteria include having actually defended criminal cases and represented injured plaintiffs, and try to limit the appointment of corporate lawyers and prosecutors to the bench in favor of the criminal defense and plaintiff's PI bar.  Off the top of my head, I can easily think of a dozen or so lawyers who did a lot of good work in the Detainee and Torture cases who deserve a judgeship far more than another former US Attorney;

    Regarding that point, I remember taking some flak in the comments from the usual suspects.  Hmmm.

    "Usual suspects"; mea culpa (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Fri Nov 02, 2007 at 03:33:49 PM EST
    but I was thinking of S. Reinhardt, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals;I have no clue if he was ever a criminal defense attorney.

    is he going to have to give up (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Fri Nov 02, 2007 at 08:20:15 PM EST
    the band? :)

    sorry, low-hanging fruit.

    Ha. I subjected myself to (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Fri Nov 02, 2007 at 10:12:35 PM EST
    this particular music in St. Louis once just so I could see the interior of the theatre where the Chuck Berry special was filmed.