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Inside the Beltway

Washington politics and government with a New Mexico flavor

Senators suggest Damon Martinez for New Mexico U.S. attorney position

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New Mexico’s U.S. senators have suggested that President Barack Obama nominate Albuquerque native Damon P. Martinez as the next United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico.

Martinez has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney since 2001 and currently supervises the Organized Crime and Gang Section in Albuquerque. His professional experience is most concentrated in national security and anti-terrorism, immigration and narcotics cases.

“We are pleased to recommend Damon Martinez to be the top enforcer of federal laws in New Mexico,” Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, said in a statement provided to the Journal this morning. “Damon has shown a strong commitment to justice throughout his exemplary legal career. His strong prosecutorial background, education and commitment to upholding the law will make him a great U.S. attorney.”

Kenneth J. Gonzales, New Mexico’s nominee for federal district judge and its current U.S. attorney, praised the selection of Martinez. Gonzales’ nomination has been voted out of the Judiciary Committee but a vote of the full Senate is pending.

“He brings a phenomenal work ethic all the right intentions and incredible amount of respect among his peers, professional experience in the U.S. attorneys office and in government in general,” Gonzales said in a telephone interview. “I congratulate and commend the senators for this selection and certainly if he is nominated and he is confirmed, I hope the process moves along expeditiously. New Mexico will be in very good hands.”

Martinez also knows his way around Capitol Hill. He has served as a legislative assistant to former Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. and legislative director for current Sen. Udall

Martinez began his career as a federal prosecutor in the Las Cruces branch of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and transferred to Albuquerque in 2005. Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s office, he served as an Assistant New Mexico Attorney General.

Martinez is an Albuquerque native and graduate of St. Pius X High School. He holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees, a Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration from the University of New Mexico. He was also a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army Reserve until 2009, when he transferred to the New Mexico National Guard. He recently returned from a deployment to Sinai, Egypt.

“We expect this extremely important position to be vacant sometime this summer, and by making our recommendation early we hope that it will be filled as soon as possible,” the senators added.

U.S. Attorneys serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the U.S. Attorney General. They are appointed by, and serve at the discretion of, the president.

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