A federal court of appeals judge from New Mexico, who is expected to step down soon, could be replaced by a lawyer with less than 10 years of legal work under his belt and very loose ties to the state. NM Political Report learned the White House sent a short list of possible replacements for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Paul Kelly Jr. Names on the list include prominent judges and lawyers who currently practice in New Mexico—and one is a lawyer from Washington D.C. who previously worked for a Utah senator and whose family owns a cattle ranch in New Mexico. William Levi, a lawyer in his early 30s who graduated law school in 2010, spent a year as a clerk for U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Anthony Scirica and later for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Levi also spent about two years as a staffer for Utah Senator Mike Lee, a libertarian-leaning member of the Republican Party. NM Political Report left a voice message for Levi at his Washington D.C. office and emailed him, but only received an out of office reply.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals said did not overturn the conviction for a former Rio Arriba County Sheriff who is serving a ten year sentence after a traffic stop gone bad. Rodella was convicted of violating a man’s civil rights during the traffic stop, which took place when Rodella was off-duty. After his conviction last year, Rodella was removed from office but he vowed to fight on and brought his appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. On Wednesday, the Appeals Court affirmed the jury’s decision, saying that “the evidence of Rodella’s guilt was overwhelming” and found only small errors. “We conclude that their cumulative effect was harmless,” the court said of the errors in the case, including references during the government’s closing argument.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]VIKI HARRISON is the Executive Director of Common Cause NM and the former Executive Director of NM Repeal, where she led the successful campaign to abolish the death penalty in NM. A stalwart of NM politics and advocacy and a graduate of UNM, Viki was also part of the team that secured NM’s historic cockfighting ban.[/box]
There’s an old classic by Ray Charles titled “You Don’t Know Me,” that features these lyrics: No you don’t know the one Who dreams of you at night; And longs to kiss your lips And longs to hold you tight Oh I’m just a friend. That’s all I’ve ever been. Cause you don’t know me. And boy is that an apt description of all the money flowing into our elections here in New Mexico!