Four attorneys nominated for district judgeship

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Of the seven attorneys who were interviewed by the Judicial Nominating Commission on Monday to replace retiring District Court Judge Violet Otero, four names have been sent to the governor for her consideration.

After interviewing the seven candidates, the commission decided to send the names of Cindy Mercer, Geoffery Nims, Pedro Rael and R. Lar Thomas to Gov. Susana Martinez, who will have 30 days to make her selection.

Otero is set to retire next week.

While the governor’s selection will preside over the Division VI bench until the general election, the Republican and Democratic central committees will soon be nominating their own candidates to be placed on November’s ballot.

Mercer, of Peralta, earned and her juris doctorate from the University of Nebraska Lincoln. She has been an attorney with the law offices of Michael S. Sanchez since 1997, where she is a general practitioner with an emphasis in criminal defense and domestic relations law.

During her interview, Mercer told the commission that the best qualities a judge could have is respect and patience.

“I believe I’m a good candidate,” Mercer said. “I grew up here and I practice here. I believe that the law provides solutions.”

After hearing the news that the commission chose to send her name to the governor, Mercer said she believes they are sending up a good list.

“There were a lot of good applicants and I’m sure it was a difficult decision to select just a few to go up to the governor,” Mercer said. “And I’m happy I’m on that list.”

Mercer, a Democrat, says she will still pursue the nomination even if the governor doesn’t appoint her to the bench.

Geoffery Nims, of Los Lunas, is the staff attorney for the 13th Judicial District Court in Los Lunas. He received his juris doctorate from the University of Michigan.

He was an assistant district attorney with the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Valencia County as well as with the District Attorney’s office in Montrose, Colo.

During his interview, Nims told the commission if he were selected, all the cases that came before him would “matter to me and I will matter to them.”

After the commission’s decision, Nims said it was an honor to be selected to be among the group of other attorneys nominated.

“For me, now the hard part begins,” said Nims, a Democrat. “The reason it’s hard is that the process, whether with the governor’s office or with the party central committees, is quite political. My strength is merit; my weakness is politics.”

Pedro Rael, of Los Lunas, received his juris doctorate for the University of Iowa Law School. He served as a Valencia County Commissioner from 2007-2010. Rael has been in private practice as a civil litigator since 1972.

He told the commission even though he doesn’t have a lot of experience in criminal law, he doesn’t expect to need a lot of training in the field.

Afterwards, Rael, a Democrat, said, “I’m delighted. I think it’s a very neat process. They obviously considered all the important factors that go into a judgeship and my strength with experience.”

R. Lar Thomas, 55, of Bosque Farms, earned his juris doctorate from the Mississippi College School of Law.

Thomas was elected municipal judge in Bosque Farms in 2012 and is a private-practice attorney.

He told the commission that if he were selected to become district court judge, there would be a learning curve coming from the municipal court.

“I would rely on resources available by the bar and the bench,” Thomas said. “I realize there will be a learning curve in learning the local rules.”

Thomas, the sole Republican nominee, said he’s excited for the opportunity.

“I’m very pleased and humbled that the commission found me to be qualified,” he said. “I think they have other candidates that are very qualified as well, and now it’s up to the governor to make her choice and then up to the people.”

The other candidates, Bryan McKay, Gerard Treich Jr. and Keith Rinaldi were not selected.

The commission also interviewed 11 candidates for a vacancy in the 13th Judicial District in Sandoval County for a judgeship created by the Legislature. The commission chose three nominees, including Rozan Cruz, Gina R. Manfredi and Carlos A. Obrey-Espinoza.


-- Email the author at cgarcia@news-bulletin.com.