Since 1996, the Public Law Section has presented the Annual Public Lawyer Award to a lawyer who has had a distinguished career involving public law issues and who is not likely to otherwise be recognized for their contribution. The award is presented in a ceremony at the State Capitol in conjunction with Law Day ceremonies.
2008 Public Lawyer of the Year
Clark de Schweinitz is recognized for his long and dedicated service to low-income residents of northern New Mexico as an attorney with the Santa Fe office of New Mexico Legal Aid. He is also being recognized for his leadership role in the community, and his years of public service working to improve the lives of New Mexico residents
L to R: Henry Alaniz, Chief Justice Edward Chavez, Clark de Schweinitz, and Attorney General Gary King.
Past Award Recipients
2007 - Stuart M. Bluestone
Chief Deputy Attorney General Stuart M. Bluestone is recognized for a career dedicated to public service. He has served in four attorney general's administrations and has been the top deputy in the AG's office for the vast majority of this time. In this capacity, he has been critically involved in numerous legal and administrative decisions affecting the state. Additionally, he has assisted in training several attorneys, many of whom now serve in important public service positions. Aside from his work at the AG’s office, Stuart worked for several years as an attorney with the legislative council service, ultimately as deputy director. He has also served as chair of the board of directors of New Mexico Legal Aid.
2006 - Frank D. Weissbarth
Frank Weissbarth is recognized for his dedicated service as an Assistant Attorney General specializing in the areas of consumer protection and subdivision law.
2005 - Paul L. Biderman
Paul Biderman is recognized for his dedication to public service and public interest law through his service as legal services attorney, as a government lawyer, as a consumer advocate, as cabinet secretary and finally as a leader at the UNM School of Law Institute of Public Law.
2004 - Robert M. White
Bob White is recognized for his leadership and expertise in the areas of local government law and land use law. Bob has served as the long time Albuquerque City Attorney, as an Albuquerque City Councilor and as a leader of state and national municipal attorney organizations.
2003 - Peter T. White
Peter White is recognized for his years of dedicated service as General Counsel for the State Engineer along with his service to community groups concerning water rights after his retirement.
2002 - Jerry Richardson
For the past 16 years, Richardson has served as chief hearing officer for the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department. In addition to deciding administrative protests in tax matters, Richardson is responsible for oversight of license revocation hearings under the New Mexico Implied Consent Act. In addition to his long career as a public lawyer, Richardson has played an active role in the community. He is a founding and current member of the Friends of the Palace, a support group for the Palace of the Governors Museum. Since 1991, he has been a member of the Board of Trustees for the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, serving as chair from 1994-1996. He also spent 10 years on the Public Employees Retirement Board and was chair of the board from 1992-1995. The Public Law Section invites the public and all bar members to the ceremony to be held at 4 p.m., May 1 in the State Capitol Rotunda, in Santa Fe. New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Pamela Minzner will be the keynote speaker and will present the award.
2001 - Mary McInerny
Mary McInerny is recognized for her distinguished career in the public sector including service at the New Mexico Attorney General's Office, as the Financial Institutions Division Director, as a member of the Public Utility Commission and as County Attorney and County Administrator for Los Alamos County.
2000 - Nick Estes
Nick Estes is recognized for his dedicated and distinguished service as an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Albuquerque City Attorney?s Office and, most recently, as University Counsel for the University of New Mexico.
1999 - Marty Daly
Marty Daly is recognized for her distinguished career as a public lawyer, serving as an Assistant District Attorney, the Appellate Public Defender and as an Assistant Attorney General
1998 - Douglas Meiklejohn
Doug Meiklejohn is recognized both as the pioneering founder of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center and for his dedicated service at the New Mexico Attorney General's Office.
1997 - Frank Katz
Frank Katz is recognized for his leadership as the long serving General Counsel at the New Mexico Taxation & Revenue Department. Mr. Katz also served as a Deputy Attorney General.
1996 - Florenceruth Brown
Florenceruth Brown is recognized for her leadership and service as General Counsel for the New Mexico Health and Environment Department, and for her pioneering role as a female attorney in northern New Mexico.
Each year in January and February, a selection committee (consisting of the past 3 Chairs of the Public Law Section) solicit and review nominations for the Award. The Committee accepts nominations from the public and may also consider nominees from previous years.
The following are factors that will be considered in making this award. An applicant need not meet all of these criteria. The work or service recognized by the award must have occurred in New Mexico. A candidate must be admitted to practice law in New Mexico but does not have to be a member of the Public Law Section to be eligible.
Significant length of service in government, which does not have to be continuous, or for one specific employer or for work as an attorney.
Excellence as an attorney/advisor and/or advocate.
Training or education of the public or bar concerning public issues; mentorship for junior attorneys in the public sector.
Role model for other public lawyers.
Involvement in one particularly difficult or important case or negotiation that significantly advanced a governmental policy or purpose.
Service to social welfare organizations, charitable institutions or nonprofit entities connected with the practice or enhancement of an area of public law.
Advocacy of or work on issues or legislation of importance in the public sector, such as open meetings and public records, public procurement and administrative procedures.
A lawyer who is not likely to be recognized for his or her outstanding work as a public lawyer.
A lawyer whose personal character and dedication to public law and public service furthers the integrity and repute of the legal profession.