Former New Mexico Chief Justice Charles Daniels passes away

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(KRQE)- Former New Mexico Chief Justice Charles Daniels has passed away Sunday at the age of 76.

Daniels was a former criminal defense and civil rights attorney who was appointed a justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court by Governor Bill Richardson in October 2007 and served as chief justice from 2010 until 2012 and from 2016 until 2017.

Justice Charles W. Daniels (image courtesy UNM School of Law)

Several officials are expressing their condolences to the late chief justice including current Chief Justice Judith Nakamura and Attorney General Hector Balderas.

Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura issued the following statement on Sunday on behalf of the New Mexico Supreme Court.

“Members of the New Mexico Supreme Court and the entire Judiciary are saddened to learn of the passing of our colleauge, Justice Charles W. Daniels. Our state has lost a titan of the law. From humble roots as the son of sharecroppers, Justice Daniels grew into a towering figure as an attorney and jurist who for a half century tenaciously defended our consitutional rights and advanced equal justice under the law. His brilliant legal mind and sharp wit made him an eloquent and compelling presence in the courtoom. Justice Daniels leaves a deep and lasting imprint on the legal landscape. His vision and advocacy for changing an antiquae pretrial system represents one of the mosti significant justiceredforms in New Mexico history. All New Mexicans have benefited from his lifelong devotion to a fair and impartial system of justice. We mourn the loss and extend our depest sympathy to his family and friends.”

Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura

Attorney General Hector Balderas also expressed his condolences for the late chief justice calling him “a champion of fairness and equality in our judicial system”. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in a statement recalled his time during chief justice saying “he led New Mexico’s highest court with clarity and conviction, leaving a legacy rivaled by few”.

Daniels was a member of the Air Force and earned his bachelor’s from the University of Arizona and his law degree from the University of New Mexico. He graduated first in his class when he earned his master of laws degree from Georgetown University.