On February 14, 2023, the US Senate confirmed President Biden's appointment of Matthew Garcia to sit on the bench for the US District Court for the District of New Mexico. The Senate voted 53 to 46 to appoint Garcia to the bench. Notable votes for Garcia include Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Susan Collins (R-ME).
Why is this in the Dispatch?
Garcia's appointment to the US District Court for the District of New Mexico includes an assignment to the Albuquerque chambers of the court, which handles federal cases for Torrance County. (The US District for New Mexico has chambers in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Las Vegas, Roswell, Santa Fe, and Silver City.) This includes both federal criminal and civil cases from Torrance County.
Prior to the Judiciary, Garcia worked in private practice from 2006 to 2018. In 2019, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham appointed Garcia as General Counsel for the State of New Mexico, and in 2020 served as interim Chief of Staff before being named permanent Chief of Staff of the governor's office. Garcia also worked as an adjunct professor of law at the University of New Mexico School of Law in 2013, 2018, and 2019. Garcia's past roles provide insight regarding his political allegiances.
Some of Garcia's cases provide insight as to his stance on both civil and criminal matters. In Johnson v. Vigil-Geron, 140 NM 667 (2006), Garcia represented Hector Balderas, a candidate for District 68 of the New Mexico House of Representatives. Balderas pulled out of the race when he was appointed Attorney General of the State of New Mexico. Garcia argued that when Balderas pulled out of the race that the Democratic State Central Committee could fill the vacancy, but the Republican Party could not nominate a candidate to run for District 68 because it had no candidate running in the primaries. Garcia represented James Flores in a case before the New Mexico Supreme Court seeking to maintain a Whistleblower Protection Act claim against Secretary of State Mary Herrera. See Flores v. Herrera, 384 P.3d 1070 (N.M. 2016). Herrera had fired Flores, her public information officer (PIO), for cooperating with the FBI in an investigation into Herrera's alleged misconduct.