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Senior U.S. District Judge James A. Parker, who served the District of New Mexico for more than three decades, died Friday. He was 85.
“We were privileged to work with and know this exemplary man,” Chief District Judge William Johnson said in a federal court news release announcing Parker’s death, the cause of which was not given.
Parker was one of the longest serving district judges in New Mexico’s history, remaining on the bench for 35 years. In January, a sixth floor courtroom at the Historic Courthouse on Gold Avenue in Downtown Albuquerque was renamed in his honor, according to the release.
Johnson ordered flags to be flown at half-staff outside the District of New Mexico courthouses.
President Ronald Reagan nominated Parker to the U.S. District Court on July 10, 1987, according to the release, and in 2000 he was elevated to chief judge before assuming senior status in 2003.
“Even as a Senior District Judge his energy, work ethic and ability to maintain a heavy caseload was legendary,” according to the release.
Parker “will be remembered for his public service within the judiciary, both on the bench handling complex cases and behind the scenes serving on national and local committees,” the court said.
The release states Parker was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and in 1959 graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from Rice University. He earned his law degree – graduating first in his class – from the University of Texas School of Law in 1962.
Parker worked for the Modrall Law Firm in Albuquerque for 25 years before Reagan’s nomination had him fill a judicial vacancy for the District of New Mexico. During his career, Parker also served on the U.S. Judicial Conference Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedures and the Federal Judicial Center Board of Directors, among others.
The release states Parker was a proponent of Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR, in appropriate cases and was proud of the state’s ADR program.
“Judge Parker was also a mentor to judges, lawyers, and court personnel and those of us who were privileged to know and work with Judge Parker will always be indebted to him for his inspirational guidance and leadership,” according to the court news release.