The position was long held by Judge Kenneth Martinez, a former prosecutor, whose resignation was effective at the end of 2014 though he was on leave before that to deal with a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s disease and his wife’s cancer.
Metro Court Chief Judge Judith Nakamura was appointed to his seat and worked hard to make up the delay in cases – until she was appointed to the New Mexico Supreme Court.
The Judicial Nominating Commission took applications for the Nakamura vacancy, but ultimately recommended only a single name to the governor as being qualified for the job, and that applicant was a Democrat. The governor rejected the short list and required the commission to reconvene.
And ultimately, the governor appointed longtime federal prosecutor and appellate attorney David Williams to fill the seat.
Williams, a Republican, has no opposition in the primary, but he will face the victorious Democrat, Cindy Leos or John Grubesic, in the general election.
Grubesic, 50, has been both a prosecutor and a defense lawyer.
He earned an English degree from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., and his law degree from the University of Denver in 1992. He joined the litigation division of the state Attorney General’s Office and spent four years there, worked at a private law firm, the District Attorney’s office in Santa Fe before becoming deputy director and environmental prosecutor in the civil division in the AG’s Office.
He’s been in private practice since 2004. He also served as a state senator for District 25 in Santa Fe from 2004 to 2008 before moving to Albuquerque with his wife, Dana, also an attorney, and their three children.
Grubesic has been recommended twice by the Judicial Nominating Commission to fill a judicial vacancy.
Leos, 41, graduated from high school in Moriarty and attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, earning a degree in sociology.
She earned a law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law, which selected her for the Public Interest Award in 2009, seven years after her graduation.
Leos spent three years working as a Children’s Court attorney with Child Protective Services and four years with the Law Office of the Public Defender, where she became a supervisor in the violent crimes division. She’s been a sole proprietor handling criminal defense work for the past two years and has taught as an adjunct at UNM School of Law.
Both Grubesic and Leos say their children represent their proudest personal accomplishments.
Leos says she’s running to bring her years of experience to the criminal bench “to strengthen and better our city.”
Grubesic also cites his experience as prosecutor, litigator and legislator – training that he says will allow him to balance public protection and aiding individuals in regaining control of their lives.
Bios and questions for Division 9/criminal seat in the 2nd Judicial District Court
John T.L. Grubesic
POLITICAL PARTY: Democrat
PLACE OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
EDUCATION: Juris Doctorate from University of Denver College of Law, 1992; BA English Cum Laude from Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colo., 1989
OCCUPATION: Attorney. Office of the Attorney General, Assistant Attorney General, Litigation Division 1993-1996; White, Koch, Kelly & McCarthy PA, Associate Attorney, 1996-1998;
1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Senior Trial Prosecutor, 1998-2001; Office of the Attorney General Environmental Prosecutor, Deputy Director Civil Division, 2001-2004; Clark, Grubesic, Jones & Baur LLC, Attorney, Partner 2004-2008; Kanter & Grubesic PA , Attorney, Partner, 2008-2015; Machol & Johannes LLP, Attorney, 2015-present.
FAMILY: Spouse Dana, three children
POLITICAL/GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE: State Senator, District 25, 2004-2008; Assistant Attorney General,1993-1996; Assistant District Attorney 1998-2001; Environmental Prosecutor, Office of the Attorney General, 2001-2002; Deputy Director, Office of the Attorney General, 2002-2004.
MAJOR PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: Recommended twice for appointment as judge by bipartisan selection committees. As state senator, I saw several significant pieces of my legislation signed into law. This legislation assisted and protected senior citizens, crime victims and animals.
MAJOR PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: With my wife Dana, I have raised three intelligent, competent and caring young people.
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: facebook.com/ElectJohnGrubesic
POLITICAL PARTY: Democrat
PLACE OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
EDUCATION: J.D., Chicago-Kent College of Law, Chicago, 2002; B.A. in Sociology, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colo., 1997; High school diploma, Moriarty High School, Moriarty, 1992.
OCCUPATION: Criminal defense attorney, sole proprietor, two years; Public Defender Felony Division (Serious Violent Attorney, Supervisor, Assistant Public Defender, Adjunct UNM Law Professor), four and a half years; Children Youth & Family Department Children’s Court attorney, three years; civil defense attorney for three years.
FAMILY: Stephen Leos, two children.
POLITICAL/GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE: I worked for the state of New Mexico as a Children’s Court attorney with CYFD (Child Protective Services) for three years and with the New Mexico Public Defender for over four years.
MAJOR PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: I received the Public Interest Award from Chicago-Kent College of Law in April 2009. Alumni receive this award following nomination for dedication and leadership in the public interest arena.
MAJOR PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT: I am most proud of being a mother to two smart, empathetic and wonderful children.
Why are you running and what strengths would you bring to the judiciary?
GRUBESIC: Twenty-three years of experience that includes being a prosecutor, litigator and legislator. This training will allow me to balance the need to protect the public and assist individuals in regaining control of their lives.
LEOS: I want to bring my years of experience to the criminal bench in an effort to strengthen and better our city. I am dedicated, hard-working, fair and well-versed in the challenges inherent in the criminal justice system.
Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?
Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?
Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state?
GRUBESIC: Careless driving 2005. I acknowledged my responsibility; $175 fine. I overcame the problems that confronted me. I will use this experience to benefit others and make our community stronger, safer and better place to live.