Editorial: NM's newest federal judge an inspiration - Albuquerque Journal

Editorial: NM’s newest federal judge an inspiration

The story of David Herrera Urias’ rise to the federal bench could be a movie script. It shows anything is possible with inspiration and determination — even for a high school dropout from Albuquerque’s South Valley.

Urias, 54, was appointed a U.S. District judge for the District of New Mexico by President Joe Biden last month. Urias still isn’t accustomed to being called “judge,” but he has a lifetime appointment to get used to it.

His intellect and work ethic are much needed on a bench that has been hamstrung by pure partisan politics, which delayed new confirmations and slowed the administration of justice in one of the busiest federal district courts in the nation. New Mexico still remains one short of its seven judges authorized by Congress.

After losing interest in school while a senior at West Mesa High in 1985, Urias dropped out and entered the workforce, busing tables and bartending for seven years to pay the rent. During that time, he met his future wife, Yolanda Roybal, who was his inspiration. He got his GED, and she encouraged him to enroll at the University of New Mexico, which he did while bartending his way through college.

It was at UNM Urias found his calling, learning about the civil rights movement while recalling the segregated schools and cemeteries of Texas border towns he knew as a child. After more encouragement from Roybal, Urias enrolled in UNM Law School in 1998. “I wanted to represent people like those I grew up with — lower middle class, not a lot of money,” he says.

Long story short, Urias’ rise to the federal bench should inspire countless other New Mexicans. His office on the seventh floor of Albuquerque’s Pete V. Domenici United States Courthouse overlooks the West Side, where he grew up and lives.

With his working-class background and passion for civil rights, Urias brings much-needed diversify to the federal bench. His story is the American Dream, a true-life movie script.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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