SANTA FE, N.M. (Legal Newsline)-Charles Daniels was sworn in Wednesday as New Mexico's new chief justice.
Daniels was selected by the state's other four justices to serve as the Supreme Court's administrative chief and presiding officer for a customary two-year term.
He succeeds Edward Chavez, also a Democrat, as the state's chief justice. All of the other justices currently on the court have served terms as the court's figurehead.
The high court's newest jurist, Daniels, 67, was recommended in 2007 to fill a Supreme Court vacancy by New Mexico's bipartisan Judicial Selection Commission.
From a list of possible candidates, Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson tapped Daniels to complete the unexpired term of Justice Pamela Minzner, who died in August 2007.
The appointment marked Richardson's second pick to the five-member court. The governor appointed Chavez in January 2003.
Daniels ran uncontested for a full eight-year term in 2008. Even so, he is up for retention this November simply because of the Supreme Court seat position he holds. He may remain on the court by winning a simple majority of approval votes.
Before his appointment to the bench, Daniels was a longtime senior partner and a criminal defense attorney at the Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Ives & Duncan P.A. law firm in Albuquerque, N.M.
Daniels received his undergraduate degree in fine arts from the University of Arizona, his law degree from the University of New Mexico and his master of laws degree in trial advocacy from Georgetown University.
His personal interests include playing bass guitar. The justice was once a semi-professional race car driver.