Ideas for streamlining process fuel judge campaign
For the first time in his 32 years of practicing law, Kerry Kiernan has shifted his focus to the other side of the bench.
Kiernan said he has been dreaming of becoming an appellate judge for years because he wants to decide the law for the citizens, as well as do the researching and writing the job requires. He is running against incumbent Judge Miles Hanisee for a seat on the New Mexico Court of Appeals in the Nov. 4 election.
“From 1986 on, I have had it in my mind that I wanted to be an appellate judge,” Kiernan said. “After doing appellate brief writing, I told myself that I really want to work in the New Mexico Court of Appeals.”
Kiernan said he has always enjoyed the process of research, writing and analysis in the appeal process. New Mexico court of appeal judges review cases, both criminal and civil, in order to revisit the circumstances of trial and district courts.
Kiernan said he is ready to become an appellate judge a year after winning the Albuquerque Appellate Lawyer of the Year in 2013.
“He is an expert in appellate practice,” said attorney Allan L. Wainwright, who has worked with Kiernan in the past. “He is a very competent attorney, but an extremely competent attorney in the appellate area of the law.”
In this, his first electoral race, Kiernan said he is enthusiastic and optimistic on account of his experience and credibility. Like Hanisee, Kiernan has chosen to be financed by the public meaning that he won’t be able to seek private donations in the electoral race. Both candidates have $189,000 each, to finance their campaigns after receiving the required amount of $5 donations.
Assorted law practice
Once he moved to New Mexico at a young age, Kiernan said that it was hard to leave. The lawyer graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1982.
In 1982, Kiernan worked as an associate attorney for Keleher and Mcleod, in Albuquerque. Following his two years at that firm, Kiernan became a law clerk for Judge A. Joseph Alarid, getting his first taste for the New Mexico Court of Appeals.
Kiernan advanced to become an assistant appellate public defender followed by working as an associate shareholder and an associate attorney.
The years spent studying different types of law — and serving different types of clients — will prepare him for the opportunity to take a seat on the New Mexico Court of Appeals, Kiernan said.
“I feel well versed in every area of civil law and I feel well versed in criminal law,” he said. “I’ve represented people who sue, versus people who have (been) sued. I’ve represented victims of sexual abuse. I’ve represented small business owners, the State of New Mexico and the University of New Mexico.”
“So the range of clients I’ve had, I think, is as diverse as any lawyer I can think of,” he said.
Kiernan says he’s uniquely qualified to serve on the bench.
Speeding things up
Kiernan said he can help cases more through the system more rapidly if he’s elected. Although the New Mexico Court of Appeals sees about 900 cases a year, Kiernan said he wants to speed up the process while making sure the outcomes are just.
“I always have to remember that there are hundreds of people out there waiting on these decisions,” Kiernan said. “You’re not an isolated ivory tower instrument that can take as much time as you want. There is a demand for these opinions because people need to move on with their lives.”
Wainwright said he thinks the ability to achieve a quicker process is not an impossible mission.
“Judges at the state court level have achieved this task,” he said. “If he goes into the court of appeals with that attitude, there is no way that it could hurt him.”
One way that Kiernan said he could speed up the process would be to decide the outcomes in a quicker manner, rather than “philosophizing” for copious amounts of time.
Another way the lawyer said he might speed things up is by taking a proactive approach when determining what cases are accepted by the appellate courts. Kiernan said that he would look at cases that would ultimately garner a Supreme Court decision. Important public policy issues are something that Kiernan said he would preemptively take on.
“There’s always something you can do to speed things up,” Kiernan said. “If we have enough evidence that the case should be dismissed, let’s dismiss it, as opposed to waiting for the end of the briefing period which can take up to six to 12 months.”[/text_output][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][image type=”none” float=”none” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” src=”2958″][text_output]