Governor appoints new District Court judge in southern N.M.

By: - September 1, 2021 5:30 am

Las Cruces, N.M., (Photo by Santana Ochoa for Source NM)

Casey Fitch, a Las Cruces-based attorney, will fill the vacant seat on the Third Judicial District Court, which covers Doña Ana County. He will handle civil and criminal cases.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appointed Fitch to the seat left open by retiring Judge Lisa Shultz. District Court judges are first appointed but then have to be on the ballot in the next general election and lock down 57% of the vote. 

Lujan Grisham first tried to appoint Fitch to the court in July 2020. But judicial elections are partisan in N.M., and the state’s Democratic Party did not put him on the ballot that November. The Dems chose former magistrate judge Richard Jacquez instead, who ran unopposed for the seat.

Fitch was one of five New Mexicans appointed by Lujan Grisham that year to fill new positions in state courts created by the Legislature.

Fitch, 47, was born in Albuquerque and raised in Socorro. While he was a senior in high school, he was an exchange student in East Germany after the Berlin Wall fell, according to his bio on the Hartline Barger law firm website with offices in Albuquerque and Texas.

He got his law degree from Seattle University School of Law in 2004. He was admitted to the bar of Washington State in 2006, clerked for the U.S. District Court in Detroit and later for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit based in San Francisco.

As an attorney attorney, Fitch primarily defended clients against civil rights claims, civil litigation and employment discrimination claims, according to his bio for Las Cruces law firm Holt, Mynatt, Martinez.

Fitch left private practice in 2017 and took a job as a career law clerk for the U.S. District Court in New Mexico.

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Austin Fisher
Austin Fisher

Austin Fisher is a journalist based in Santa Fe. He has worked for newspapers in New Mexico and his home state of Kansas, including the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Garden City Telegram, the Rio Grande SUN and the Santa Fe Reporter. Since starting a full-time career in reporting in 2015, he’s aimed to use journalism to lift up voices that typically go unheard in public debates around economic inequality, policing and environmental racism.