September 11, 2012

Bingaman & Udall Recommend Five Candidates to Fill U.S. District Court Vacancy

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall have identified five highly-qualified candidates to replace retiring U.S. District Court Chief Judge Bruce D. Black. They sent the names to the White House for President Obama's consideration. 

The Senators solicited applicants from around the state for the position on the court, which Black has held for 17 years. They are recommending the following candidates, who are named in alphabetical order:

Norman Bay: Currently the Director of the Enforcement Office at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Mr. Bay served as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico (2000-2001) and taught criminal law, evidence, and constitutional law at the UNM School of Law (2002-2009).

The Honorable Carmen Garza: Since 2006, Judge Garza has been a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Las Cruces. Judge Garza also served as an Assistant Public Defender for the State of New Mexico (1986-1989) and has extensive private practice experience, primarily in criminal matters.

U.S. Attorney Ken Gonzales: Serves as the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico. Prior to his appointment in 2010, Mr. Gonzales served for more than ten years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in both the Las Cruces and Albuquerque branches. As an Adjunct Professor in the U.S. Army Reserves, Mr. Gonzales also teaches criminal law at the Judge Advocate General Legal Center & School.

Andy Schultz: Mr. Schultz is a Director in the Rodey Law Firm and heads the firm's complex and commercial litigation group. Mr. Schultz clerked for Justice Byron White (1985-1986), the only graduate of the UNM School of Law to have served as a clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Honorable Linda Vanzi: Currently sits on the New Mexico Court of Appeals. Judge Vanzi also served as a state judge for the Second Judicial District (2004-2008) and taught evidence and trial practice at the UNM School of Law (2001-2012).

"Judge Black has served New Mexico and the judiciary very well, and will be very hard to replace. But I believe we have identified several excellent candidates for President Obama to consider," Bingaman said.

"Judge Black's successor will preside over important border-related cases on issues like immigration, gun trafficking and drug smuggling," said Udall. "After numerous interviews and much deliberation I am confident that we have presented President Obama with a strong group of candidates to fill the position."

It is customary for Senators from the state with a vacancy on the federal district court to offer a list of recommended candidates, but it is entirely the president's decision to select a name from that list or nominate his own candidate.

Once the president has made his nomination, that candidate will have a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The final step is a vote in the U.S. Senate.