Julie Ann Grimm William R. Hendley, who served nearly two decades as a judge on the New Mexico Court of Appeals, died in Rio Rancho last week.
Hendley, 86, will be remembered by colleagues as a person who brought efficiency to the court, said Tom Simons, a Santa Fe attorney who clerked for Hendley in the 1970s.
"He was plainspoken, honest, straightforward and he just was results-oriented," Simons said. "I came to emulate him in my own practice as a way of practicing law that I thought was great. It did not involve all of the arcane legalism."
Simons said Hendley — who served on the court from 1968 to 1986 — was responsible for establishing systems in the court that "quickened the pace of deciding cases" and was known for issuing opinions in crisp ways.
In 1978, The New Mexican wrote a story about how the judge started using conference calls to conduct motions hearings and other proceedings that helped save money and time.
Former Court of Appeals Judge Lynn Pickard, who clerked for Hendley in 1974, said he was always interested in new ideas and deserves the credit for creating a staff of professional attorneys to form the Prehearing Division at the court.
"He was the one who thought that having a central staff of attorneys would enable the court to better manage its caseload and to get the cases done quicker," she said.
Pickard, who worked as the chief staff attorney for the court before becoming a judge, said Hendley's humility and hard work were also remarkable. Instead of allowing clerks to work from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with an hour and a half break for lunch, as was the custom in the 1970s there, he worked — and expected everyone else to work — from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"That is what he was like," she said. "He was a role model for me and for all of his law clerks."
His widow, Virginia Hendley, a former state librarian, said her husband was active in the Democratic Party and loved spending time in downtown Santa Fe, especially on the Plaza and along the Santa Fe River near the courthouse.
"One story that he tells, he and (a friend) were standing on the bridge there and some tourist came by with a map. She was looking for the Santa Fe River, and when they pointed out the Santa Fe River, she wouldn't believe them," she said. "He was one of those Santa Fe people that would go out at lunch and talk to people and see people."
Hendley was born in 1925 in Chadron, Neb., and first came to New Mexico in the 1940s as a U.S. Army construction foreman. He helped build the research complex that later became known as Los Alamos National Laboratory and witnessed the detonation of the first atomic bomb at White Sands Missile Range in 1945.
After working as a ranch hand with no high school diploma, he enrolled at the University of Michigan, then attended law school at The University of New Mexico, earning his degree in 1956.
He was elected to the Court of Appeals in 1968 and left the bench in 1986 to practice law as an arbitration judge. He kept his license until 2008, and was a member of the state bar for more than 50 years.
Hendley died at home from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He will be buried June 17 at the Santa Fe National Cemetery at 10:30 a.m.
Contact Julie Ann Grimm at 986-3017 or firstname.lastname@example.org.