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New judge - New judge is HU alumnus

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New Mexico Highlands University

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez appointed New Mexico Highlands University alumnus and criminal defense attorney Edward M. Gallegos as San Miguel County magistrate judge.

Gallegos will be sworn in August 22. He replaces Philip Romero, a longtime magistrate judge who retired in April.

Gallegos, a Las Vegas native, earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Highlands in 1992, graduating cum laude. He completed his doctor of jurisprudence degree from the University of New Mexico Law School in 2005 and was admitted to the New Mexico Bar in 2006.  

“I am very honored that the governor has given me this opportunity to serve the citizens of San Miguel County and my goal is to serve with fairness, honor, and distinction,” Gallegos said. “Having worked as both a prosecutor and defense attorney, I understand the challenges both face.”

He added, “All the judges in the magistrate and district court are very knowledgeable individuals and I’m proud to be working alongside them.”

Since 2010, Gallegos has practiced law in private practice as a criminal defense attorney. His law firm worked in partnership with Gerald Baca, a longtime Las Vegas criminal defense attorney who Martinez appointed to a vacant district judge position in April.

Gallegos started his legal career in 2006 as a prosecutor in the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office. He became a senior trial attorney, with a primary focus on felony DWI cases. He also tried cases involving homicide, child molestation, burglary, larceny, and more.

“Law school gives you book knowledge but doesn’t teach you to be an attorney. Being a prosecutor gave me real-world knowledge of practicing the art of law and gave me my trial experience,” Gallegos said.

Gallegos worked as a prosecutor for Richard Flores, district attorney for the Fourth Judicial District.

“During his tenure with me, Edward was an extremely competent attorney and handled numerous cases at the magistrate court, which I believe will serve him well in his new position,” Flores said. “Magistrate judges handle both criminal and civil cases and Edward is very well rounded in both areas. I’m proud of him and happy that he received this appointment.”

Magistrate courts have jurisdiction over DWI/DUI and other traffic violations, tort, contract, landlord/tenant rights, felony preliminary hearings, and misdemeanor cases.

Gallegos said that he received a quality education from Highlands, giving him the foundation he needed to continue his education.

“My professors at Highlands were excellent. They always had time for their students, and we weren’t just a number,” Gallegos said.

After completing his BBA, he worked as a business manager, including positions with the Presbyterian Medical Services, Cuba Health Center and the Jemez Mountain Public Schools.

While Gallegos considered a law career as a young man, the opportunity to attend law school didn’t occur until he was 45. Before that, he spent five years as a rancher and stay-at-home dad for his daughter Cassidy, while his wife worked as a teacher.

“My wife Tonya and I planned for me to go to law school after Cassidy went to school and that’s what I did,” Gallegos said.

Tonya Gallegos is also a Highlands University alumnus. She is a graduate of the school of education and a longtime elementary school teacher in the Jemez Mountain Public Schools.