The 9th Judicial District Court is now complete after Joe Parker was sworn in by district judge Stephen Quinn on Tuesday in the courtroom of the Roosevelt County Courthouse.
“He’s going to hit the ground running,” Quinn said about Parker’s new position. “He’s going to start (this) morning. We’ve been extremely busy (with only two district judges).”
Parker, a former Clovis lawyer, gave a 10-minute gratitude speech to over 130 family members, city officials and friends in the courtroom.
“It was nostalgic for me to do it in Portales,” Parker said. “I’m impressed with the turnout.”
Quinn said the workloads are tough to handle when some of the cases need immediate attention.
“The juvenile cases require immediate decisions,” Quinn said. “I’m tickled to death to have Joe with us.”
Quinn talked about Parker’s qualities and mentioned his keen sense of humor. Ninth Judicial District Judge Ted Hartley helped Parker get into his robe and immediately his sense of humor took effect.
“Is it warm in here or is it just me?” Parker joked while wearing his new black robe. “This feels pretty good.”
Gov. Bill Richardson appointed Parker on Sept. 15 to fill the void left by Judge Robert Brack. Brack was assigned to the federal district court bench in Las Cruces.
The district judges’ commission selected two out of the six candidates as final candidates. Both of them were Clovis lawyers, Parker and Bob Orlik.
“(Gov. Richardson) was very gracious when he offered me the position,” Parker said. “He is a very charismatic man. He was encouraging.”
Lonnie Leslie, assistant superintendent of Clovis schools and long-time friend of Parker, gave a brief welcome speech to the audience. Leslie and Parker have been friends for 15 years, according to Leslie.
Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega followed up with a congratulation speech, saying with confidence that Parker will do a superb job.
“We had a nice visit about his appointment,” Ortega said. “I immediately felt comfortable with him. He has a good heart and I know he will do a good job in this community.”
University of New Mexico Law School Dean Suellyn Scarnecchia headed the 17-member commission, which was composed of local lawyers and state judges.
Parker graduated from Causey High School in 1966 where he played on the varsity basketball team. Parker graduated from law school at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan.
Parker has had 21 years of experience as an attorney. He said he has mostly dealt with civil suits in his private practice.
“When I was a lawyer I had to advocate for my position,” Parker said.
“As a judge my position is to apply the law. I have to be objective.”