The call Robert Orlik had been waiting for years to receive came unexpectedly on Tuesday evening.
Gov. Bill Richardson was on the other end of the line, and he told the local attorney he’d just been appointed as the new district judge in the 9th Judicial District.
“When I got the governor, I knew I had gotten the appointment,” Orlik said. “My wife was ecstatic in the seat next to me.”
This was the third time Orlik was nominated for a district judgeship. “It’s the third time and it’s the best time,” he said.
“I’m very humbled and very pleased and gratified,” Orlik said, “and I intend on doing the very best job I can for Curry and Roosevelt counties.”
As a result of the appointment, the 58-year-old lawyer will now start a new career. On his desk Wednesday afternoon was a list of 20 to 30 client cases that will need to be resolved. After 27 years in private practice, he is closing shop.
“This is closing an entire book of my life,” he said. “It’s just very sobering to grasp, but I think the opportunity to provide service to a greater (number of) members of the community is a great opportunity, and I certainly look forward to it.”
Orlik served the 9th district as Chief Public Defender from 1977 to 1978 and as a judge advocate general for the U.S. Air Force. He graduated from Rutgers University School of Law in Camden, N.J., a press release from the governor’s office said. Orlik said he expects to start his new job by early or mid-August.
“As a leader in the business community, Robert Orlik displays a sense of fairness and compassion,” Richardson said. “I am confident he will handle his new responsibilities with the utmost respect for justice.”
In all, four applied for the position. The application process is intense, Orilk said. Each candidate must submit 20 to 30 pages of documents, provide references and pass a 16-person committee before being recommended to the governor for appointment.
That committee meeting occurred July 1 in Clovis, and two local attorneys were recommended for appointment to the governor. Attorney David Peter Reeb was the other nominee.
The seat opened in April when Richardson signed a $1.8 million bill to establish eight new judgeships in the state. The 9th district will now have four seats altogether.