Judge candidates have ties to LA

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Courts > Attorneys will take over First Judicial bench

By Tris DeRoma

The University of New Mexico School of Law’s First Judicial Court Nominating Commission announced its list of candidates Tuesday night for the judicial vacancy in New Mexico’s First Judicial District, Division 5.
The First Judicial District covers the counties of Rio Arriba, Los Alamos and Santa Fe. Sheri Raphaelson, the judge that occupied the Division 5 seat for four years, was voted out in the 2014 election.
The candidates for the position include, Jennifer L. Attrep, Julia Hosford Barnes, Paul William Grace, Tyr R. Loranger and Christopher Romero. All of them are practicing attorneys.
At least two of the candidates, Attrep and Loranger, have ties to Los Alamos. Loranger, a private attorney based in Santa Fe, is a regular at the Los Alamos County Justice Center, having defended numerous residents here.
Attrep, meanwhile, grew up in Los Alamos and is a graduate of Los Alamos High School.
She is a practicing attorney currently living in Santa Fe. She is the only attorney on the list that has experience serving as a district judge, having served a few months in 2014 in the First Judicial District.
In July, 2014, Gov. Susana Martinez appointed the 37-year-old Attrep to the bench to fill a vacancy in Division 9 of the First Judicial District Court, which covered mostly Santa Fe County civil cases, as well as cases from Los Alamos and Rio Arriba Counties. The ratio of case types is very similar to what she would face as a judge in Division 5. She served three and a half months until the 2014 general election.
“It was professionally rewarding, and I would absolutely do it again. That’s why I’m running again,” she said, adding that this position would allow her regularly visit her home county of Los Alamos (she grew up in White Rock) as well as where she has her current home, Santa Fe County.
She is currently practicing law with her husband Todd Coberly in a law firm they started together, “Coberly and Attrep LLLP.”
Attrep graduated from Los Alamos High School in 1996. She received her undergraduate degree at the College of William and Mary and received her law degree at the University of Virginia.
The commission will be holding a special meeting Jan. 29 at the First Judicial District Courthouse in Santa Fe.
According to the committee’s coordinator, the meeting will be at 9 a.m. and will be about evaluating the candidates. The meeting will be open to the public and the public’s input is welcome.
Loranger’s most visible and latest case in the Los Alamos was the Vigil, Ortiz-Middlefield burglaries, where a couple from Ojo Caliente committed a series of burglaries in Los Alamos in August of 2014. Loranger was defending Ortiz-Middlefield. Both suspects are out on bail awaiting trial.
Loranger grew up in Rio Arriba County and said he’s very familiar with the people and places in the region, which is his main reason for wanting to serve.
“We need someone up there that understands the diversity of Rio Arriba County,” he said. “I’m not sure how someone who isn’t familiar with that community as well as the other counties, is going to do up there. There are issues that are certainly unique to Rio Arriba County, and they certainly overflow into the other two counties within the judicial district as well.”
Besides attending court on a regular basis in Los Alamos County as a defense attorney, he said his other tie to Los Alamos is through his brother, who attended Los Alamos High School 35 years ago. Loranger attended and graduated from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego and came back to the Northern New Mexico region in 2004.
“One of the things I was determined to do was move home,” he said. “Having grown up there, I can tell you it’s very frustrating when the local talent leaves and no one comes back.”
Julia Hosford Barnes has been practicing private law in New Mexico for 25 years, as well did plenty of work as a professional mediator for New Mexico court system, the New Mexico Environment Department and the New Mexico Public Education Department.
“I loved working in the public sector,” she said. “I’ve been looking at judgeships for a while and this seemed like the right time to apply for one.”
Chris Romero is another candidate who has experience working in the public sector, having served as an assistant district attorney for New Mexico’s First Judicial District from 2005-2008. After that, he went to work as acting general counsel and as assistant counsel at New Mexico’s Children, Youth and Families Department until 2011, when he went into private practice with his own law firm, Romero Law Firm.
He too is a frequent visitor to the Los Alamos Justice Center.
“Being a lawyer in this community, I not only see this as an opportunity to serve not only the judicial system, but the community as well,” he said. “Our judicial system is not perfect, but the role of a judge is to ensure that the system is fair and well run. At the end of the day, it’s important that people feel they got a fair shake, even if they don’t always agree with the results.” Romero lives and works in Santa Fe, but grew up in Pojoaque.
Grace could not be reached for comment.