Dear Members of the NMDLA:
Welcome to 2015! With a heartfelt thank you to Richard Padilla, the entire NMDLA Board, and all of you, our members, I am proud to report that 2014 was a very successful year for the organization. In addition to our Annual Meeting, where Stephen French and Alicia Santos were honored as the Outstanding Civil Defense Lawyer of the Year and Young Lawyer of the Year, respectively, we also organized three popular and long- standing CLEs. The Defense Practice Academy: Basic Skills, Women in the Courtroom V, and the Civil Rights Seminar were, as always, informative and well-attended. While we certainly owe a debt of gratitude to the judges, attorneys, and other speakers who presented at these programs, they would not have been possible without the hard work of Brenda Saiz, Richard Hatch, Carolyn Ramos, Bryan Garcia, and Cody Rogers. Thank you! In addition to these CLEs, our Editorial Board, co-chaired by Courtenay Keller and Erica Neff, published enlightening newsletters throughout the year.
This year will be a particularly exciting one for the NMDLA. In October, at the invitation of Justice Edward Chavez, a seminar was held regarding the summary jury trial and its use in potentially reviving the civil jury trial. The program was co-sponsored by the NMDLA, the New Mexico Trial Lawyers’ Association, and the American Board of Trial Advocates. During the seminar, it was revealed that at least five federal jurisdictions and twenty-two state jurisdictions
have implemented some form of summary jury trial, and that the system has generally been met with favor due to its flexibility, cost-effectiveness, relaxed (but not abrogated) rules of evidence, and fast and final civil verdicts. The NMDLA is continuing its dialogue with Justice Chavez regarding use of a summary jury trial system in New Mexico. We welcome any volunteers who would like to be part of a committee charged with exploring the issue and request input from all members with their thoughts on such a system.
I am honored and humbled to serve as president of this organization in 2015. I am also fortunate to have the support of a hard-working, thoughtful, and dedicated Board of Directors. The Executive Board will include Lorena Olmos (President- Elect), Courtenay Keller (Secretary / Treasurer), and Richard Padilla (immediate Past-President). I am also pleased to report that Mark Standridge will become the new chair of the NMDLA Amicus Committee. The NMDLA Board will continue working hard to promote the mission of the organization and we welcome input on ways we can better serve you. Please let me or any board member know if you would like to volunteer or if you have ideas for CLEs or other services the NMDLA can provide.
On behalf of the NMDLA Board, I wish you a happy, healthy, and productive 2015.
Sean E. Garrett