Albuquerque lawyer tapped for Appeals court vacancy

Henry ‘Hank’ Bohnhoff

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has appointed Albuquerque native Henry “Hank” Bohnhoff to fill a vacancy on the state Court of Appeals created by the retirement of Judge Roderick T. Kennedy.

Bohnhoff, 60, a lawyer with the Rodey Law Firm in Albuquerque, was one of seven applicants seeking appointment to the post. He’ll have to run in the next general election, in 2018, if he wants to retain the seat.

In a written statement provided by the Governor’s Office, Bohnhoff, a Republican, said he is “deeply honored” by the appointment and is “looking forward to upholding the law in a fair and impartial manner.”

He began his legal career as a clerk for the U.S. District Court in New Mexico in the early 1980s. He worked in the state Attorney General’s Office as a chief assistant and deputy attorney general under former Attorney General Hal Stratton from 1987 to 1989. During his time there, he participated in post-compact financial negotiations between New Mexico and Texas on the Pecos River Compact. He’s been in private practice since then, handling a variety of cases dealing with water and natural resources, tribal issues, and business and real estate.

Bohnhoff, who has never before run for or held a public office, is a graduate of Stanford University and earned his law degree from Columbia University.

According to online campaign finance records, the litigator made donations of $500 to Gov. Martinez in 2010, 2013 and 2014 and has made contributions to other Republican lawmakers, including state Rep. Nate Gentry of Albuquerque, the House minority leader, in years past.

Nationally, Bohnhoff has donated to the campaigns of former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, a New Mexico Republican, and U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

This is the second appointment Martinez has made to the 10-member court recently to fill a vacant seat left by a retiring senior jurist. In December, she appointed Albuquerque lawyer Stephen French to fill the slot left by the retirement of Judge Michael D. Bustamante. It was the second time that French, a Republican, had been appointed to a seat on the Court of Appeals. He ran in the Nov. 8 election to retain his first appointed seat on the appellate court but lost the race to Democrat Julie Vargas.

The state Court of Appeals considers all criminal and civil appeals originating from the state’s judicial systems, except those involving life sentences, and it handles about 900 cases per year.

Appellate court judges are paid about $125,00 per year, must have practiced law for at least 10 years and must have lived in New Mexico for at least three years.

Contact Phaedra Haywood at 986-3068 or phaywood@sfnewmexican.com. Follow her on Twitter at @phaedraann.

Correction: Court of Appeals appointee Henry Bohnhoff participated in post-compact financial negotiations between New Mexico and Texas on the Pecos River Compact. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that he was involved in negotiations that led to the compact.

In addition, The Court of Appeals sees about 900 cases per year. A previous version of this story incorrectly said the court sees about 9,000 cases per year.