Former city of Santa Fe attorney and Santa Fe County probate judge Mark Basham died at a local hospital Sunday following a short illness, a family member said.
He was 61.
Basham was born in Las Vegas, N.M., and moved to Santa Fe with his family as a small child, said his ex-wife, Katherine Howington, with whom he had three children who are now grown.
His mother, Judy Basham, was state personnel director under several governors, and his father, Austin Basham, was the head football coach at Santa Fe High School and later the director of the state Motor Vehicle Division.
Mark Basham graduated from Santa Fe High, where he was a standout football player under coach David Church. He then attended Princeton University and obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science before returning to New Mexico and earning a law degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law.
After graduating from law school in 1990, Howington said, Basham worked as a prosecutor in the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office and then transitioned into private practice.
He was the city attorney from about 1996 to 2000, according to newspaper reports.
Santa Fe County spokeswoman Carmelina Hart said he served as the county probate judge from 2007 to 2016.
“[He] became city attorney during a very difficult time at the city,” said Mark Allen, an attorney who worked with Basham in the City Attorney’s Office. “There was a lot of conflict at the time. He was very skillful in navigating that terrain. He had a very keen mind.
“He was one of those lawyers who had the gift of finding a pragmatic solution to complex problems,” Allen added. “He didn’t get wrapped around the axle on in-depth legal theories. He was the guy that could figure out a solution the parties could accept, rather than taking a hard stance on what he believed the law was or wasn’t.”
Basham worked briefly as a prosecutor for the city of Española in 2018 but resigned after being found in contempt of court for having shown up to a courtroom impaired, according to a newspaper report at the time.
“He was not perfect,” Allen said. “But he was a really generous person, very kind, and he really had a soft heart and a quick wit.”
Howington said funeral services for Basham had not yet been planned.