By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun
Local prosecutor Donald C. Schutte was appointed to fill the vacant position in the 10th Judicial District Court on Thursday by Gov. Bill Richardson.
Schutte’s swearing in ceremony will be Sept. 7, he said.
There are several trials that he said he wants to see through to completion before he is sworn in.’
For the past seven years Schutte has been the chief deputy district attorney for the 10th Judicial District.
In those cases, where he has served as the lead prosecutor or been on prosecution team, the New Mexico Supreme Court will appoint a judge to hear those cases, Schutte said.
What does he think it will be like to be on the other side of the bench?
“There’s going to be some adjustment. I’ve been out there on the playing field,” he said.
Schutte “brings over 30 years of legal experience to the bench,” said Richardson in the press release announcing the appointment.
Prior to serving in the DA’s office, Schutte was a civil litigator involved in personal injury cases in Albuquerque, he said.
But he has served as a mediator in Albuquerque and was trained by the bar in mediation so he expects that experience will come into play, he said.
Schutte said he hopes to bring in several programs now available in Albuquerque. One such program is Legal FACS (Forms and Courthouse Services) which helps people represent themselves in some legal procedures such as name changes, simple probates and simple divorces, when there is no property and no children, Schutte said.
Another program would be legal aid services where attorneys could provide their services pro bono, or free, to low-income individuals who cannot afford the services of an attorney. “I think that through the legal services we can provide legal assistance through telephone consultation and maybe get a free lawyer here on a regular basis,” Schutte said.
Schutte will replace Judge Ricky D. Purcell who retired on June 30, before his term was completed.
Schutte will have to run for the office in the fall elections of 2008.
Based on a salary set by the state legislature, Schutte will earn $109,000 annually.
Schutte is a commissioner of the State Bar of New Mexico and is the president of Tucumcari’s MainStreet program to redevelop the city’s downtown district.
Schutte and Tucumcari Albert “Scooter” Mitchell applied for the position.
Donald C. Schutte, 59
l Bowling Green University, 1970
l University of Akron Law
l New Mexico Bar, 1974
l Private practice, civil litigator, Albuquerque, 1974-1999
l Chief Deputy District Attorney,
2000 to present
l Appointed judge to 10th Judicial Court, July 19, 2007.
“So, it’s not foreign to sit and judge someone else’s presentation.”