District Court gets new judge

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Sarah Singleton will replace Judge James Hall

By Carol A. Clark

Longtime Santa Fe attorney Sarah Singleton will replace 1st Judicial District Judge James Hall who retires Dec. 31. Hall most recently presided over the Vives v. Hull civil case in Los Alamos.

Singleton, 60, commended her predecessor during a telephone interview from her office late Monday, expressing her desire to follow his professional example.

“I hope I’m like him. I’ve had many cases heard by Judge Hall and he has excellent judicial temperament, he is very fair and always well prepared,” she said. “Judge Hall is one of the best trial judges in the state and this district is only going to be that much worse without him. I hope I can be half as good as he has been.”

Singleton recalled meeting Hall years ago when they coached T-ball.

“One of his twin sons was on the team. He was five or six-years-old at the time and he’s about to graduate from college so that was a long time ago,” she laughed.

Gov. Bill Richardson appointed Singleton to the post on Monday.

“Ms. Singleton is bringing with her more than 30 years of legal experience and I am confident she will serve the 1st Judicial District Court and the people of New Mexico justly,” Richardson said in a news release.

Singleton is a shareholder at Montgomery & Andrews and has been an attorney at the firm since 1985. She previously worked at the Singleton Law Office and in the Public Defenders Office in Santa Fe.

“I’m honored and I want to thank the governor for selecting me,” Singleton said.

In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Singleton and the U.S. Senate confirmed her to serve on the bipartisan Board of Directors for the Legal Services Corporation, a leading provider of civil legal aid for the poor in the United States.

Singleton received her bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College and her juris doctorate degree from Indiana University School of Law. She has been a member of the New Mexico Bar Association for 35 years, serving as president from 1995 to 1996.

Singleton is a member of the Texas State Bar, the Federal Bar for the District of New Mexico and the Tenth Circuit Bar. She is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court and the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Singleton has received the State Bar Outstanding Contribution Award four times, the Outstanding Service to the Court and Judiciary Award for service on the Board of Bar Examiners, the State Bar Distinguished Service Award, the State Bar Pioneer Award, the Woman’s Bar Power and Caring Award and the State Bar President’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

While appointed to fill Hall’s  remaining 12-month term, Singleton must run in the June primary and November general elections in order to continue serving on the bench past Dec. 31, 2010.

The 1st Judicial District Court has jurisdiction over Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Rio Arriba counties.