Vote to “Keep Judge Kennelly” (Div. 2, 8th Judicial District)

By: Bill Whaley
18 February, 2020

Recently this writer attended a reception for Judge Melissa Kennelly, who was selected by Gov. Lujan-Grisham and presides over district court in Raton. Now she is running to be elected as district judge by the residents of the Eighth Judicial District, which includes Colfax, Union, and Taos County, where 80% of the voters reside. Taos Friction urges voters to elect Judge Kennelly.

First, Judge Kennelly was vetted by her peers, some eighteen to twenty members of the New Mexico Bar, New Mexico law school, and various legal luminaries and recommended for the vacancy.

Second, in addition to serving the New Mexico and Colorado Courts of Appeal, District Court in Taos, she currently supervises some 850 cases on her Raton docket. She has purchased a home in Raton and owns another in Ranchitos, where she is a ditch commissioner on La Acequia de los Molinos. (At New Mexico law school she graduated with honors and edited the Natural Resources Journal: she’s the District’s “Water Judge.”)

Third, even Judge Jeff Shannon who was recently appointed to District Court Div. 3 in Taos admitted Judge Kennelly was more qualified than he (though she may have to work some to acquire Judge Shannon’s popularity with la gente.)

Fourth, Kennelly, a third generation Ohio police officer, moved to Taos some 15 years ago or more, worked as a waitress at Ranchos Trading Post and at Horse Fly, where she researched what would become the “Catalogue of Tears,” a document detailing ten years or more of Taos homicides, including the names of perps and victims, the prosecuted and unprosecuted. She told this writer the “Catalogue of Tears” was one of the reasons why she went to law school.

Fifth, while one of her former employers and current campaign treasurer Attorney Carol Neelley, emphasized Kennelly’s intelligence and hard work, Co-Campaign chair Peggy Nelson (a retired district judge) emphasized the importance of Kennelly’s integrity and fair but compassionate approach to judicial matters (especially important at this time, given the decay of the federal system under the aegis of Trump-Barr cabal).

Kennelly’s wife Dr. Loretta Ortiz y Pino died of cancer about three years ago even as Kennelly was her caretaker for several years, which speaks to the very real compassion and worldly experience of this judge.

Unlike some 8th Judicial District Judges, whose reputations were tarnished by working for a previous DA, Judge Kennelly’s reputation shines brightly. Besides she’s a fit, young, smarty-pants. One feels very reassured about the practice of justice in her presence, a feeling I also get when I’m around the omni-pleasant Judge Shannon. Both these judges apparently believe in the concept of justice put forth by Plato in the Republic: the restoration of harmony in the community.

Vote to “Keep Judge Kennelly.”