Judge Garcia has always been known for his detailed preparation, analysis, and interactive approach to resolving difficult cases. As a trial judge, he presided over numerous cases of significance in New Mexico, including large wrongful death, product liability and class action cases. After appointment to the appellate court, he also authored several high-profile appeals before the New Mexico appellate courts including Morris v. King, 2015-NMCA-100; Sanders-Reed v. Suzana Martinez, 2015-NMCA-063; and Elane Photography v. Willock, 2012-NMCA-086. During his tenure on the trial and appellate bench, Judge Garcia either presided over, tried, ruled on, or wrote the decision in thousands of New Mexico cases.
Judge Garcia also has a life-long background in the sport of tennis and has assisted the United States Tennis Association in numerous capacities, including serving as the chairman over the administrative hearing and grievance process before the USTA Grievance Committee. He was also the USTA president for the Southwest Section and served two terms as a national counsel chair for youth tennis in America. Presently, Judge Garcia is a designated arbitration panel member for USTA arbitration cases.
Judge Garcia was in private practice from 1984 to 2002. He started as an associate attorney with the firm of Schwartz, Davenport, McDonald & Perelson, until the firm merged to become the Santa Fe office for Modrall, Sperling, Roehl, Harris & Sisk. He later joined the firm of Sommer, Udall, Othmer, Hardwick & Garcia as a shareholder. He left the Sommer firm to form the Garcia law firm in 1996 and practiced in that capacity until 2002, when he was nominated and later elected to the trial court bench in the First Judicial District. While in private practice, he had a broad civil practice that involved both plaintiff and defense work in state and federal courts, including the appellate courts. Notable litigated cases included the Estate of Georgia O’Keefe, the Weddidge Estate v. Treasury Dept., and the Estate of Lupita Cantu.
While Judge Garcia served on the bench with the First Judicial District Court, he primarily presided over the civil and criminal docket in Rio Arriba County, a smaller portion of the civil and criminal docket in Santa Fe County, and the habeas corpus docket for the entire district. In addition, the judge was often designated by the Supreme Court to preside in Taos and San Miguel Counties when excusals or recusals required an available judge. During his tenure at the trial court, new case assignments to Judge Garcia fluctuated between 800-2000 each year.
While serving on the Court of Appeals, Judge Garcia was one of three judges who occupied assigned chambers at the Supreme Court Building in Santa Fe. The Court’s new complex in Albuquerque was built to accommodate the remaining seven members of the Court. Sitting in random panels of three judges assigned to each case, Judge Garcia sat on more than one hundred cases assigned to the general calendar each year and several hundreds more assigned to the Court’s summary calendar. The Court of Appeals addressed all direct appeals from the trial courts around the state, excluding capital homicide cases, public regulation commission appeals, habeas corpus appeals, and a few other appeals allowed to be filed directly with the Supreme Court by special writ or similar procedures. During his tenure on the Court of Appeals, Judge Garcia was assigned to several thousands of cases.
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