Several attorneys were honored at a luncheon last Friday for their work in providing free legal services to needy people in their community.
Recognized at the event were David Silva, Suzanne Gaulin, Danelle Smith, Robert Sanchez, Craig Fretwell, Oneida L’Esperance, Wilma Brown, Martin Lopez, Art Bustos, Nick Leger, Judith Kilpatrick and Anna Aragon.
New Mexico Chief Justice Petra Jimenez Maes thanked local attorneys for their pro bono service in the 4th Judicial District, which covers San Miguel, Mora and Guadalupe counties.
Underscoring the need for free legal services, Maes said recent census data shows that a fourth of New Mexico families are living in poverty and 26 percent of the state’s children are poor.
She said that in 2011, 29 attorneys in the 4th Judicial District provided pro bono legal services, which is about 60 percent of the attorneys in the district. Attorneys provided an average of 35 hours each for a total of 1,698 hours, and they served 557 individuals, the chief justice said.
“While the number of clients eligible for legal aid continues to increase, your efforts are making a difference,” Maes said.
“I know your work has had a positive impact on each of these individuals, and I want to thank you again for your service,” she added.
The event was held at El Rialto and was organized by Judge Matthew Sandoval, who is the Pro Bono Committee chairman in the 4th Judicial District.
“The judges are very grateful for all the efforts of the attorneys in our community to provide free legal help to the needy in our community,” Sandoval said. “It was a well attended event, and we’re very grateful that the chief justice took time out of her busy schedule to be with us.”
Sandoval said the 4th Judicial District is looking forward to having another free legal clinic in March or April. He said pro se clinics are also held twice a month at the courthouse. They’re held on the first and third Thursdays of the month.
“There’s still help out there,” he said.