Calvin Neumann is retiring later this month after 25 years as a Curry County public defender. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer
For 25 years he has served as Curry County’s public defender. But on Oct. 29, Calvin Neumann will officially retire from public service at the age of 72. He won’t be without things to do, however.
“I have all kinds of crafts and hobbies,” he said. “I’ve got two stained glass projects under way that have been collecting dust for many years.”
The local attorney also has a penchant for making silver and turquoise jewelry, a pursuit he hopes to take up once he has the time.
Neumann went to law school at the University of Detroit and in 1961 managed to pass the bar exam, he said. He did not start as a public defender in Clovis until 1979.
He works about 50 hours per week, he said, and when he is preparing for trials, that number goes up. After retirement he will have the freedom to finally focus on personal projects that have escaped him for years.
“The thing I would like to say is, ‘I will do what it pleases me to do,’” he said. “ Unless you lived with us (the pubic defender office) every day, you would have no idea how many people we do our best to represent.”
One of the things he said will please him to do is continuing to work on a proposed drug court he and District Judge Teddy Hartley have pursued.
Hartley said he is sorry to see Neumann leave.
“I’ve had utmost respect by the way he conducts his practice,” Hartley said. “He brings to the courtroom the experience and the intelligence necessary for representation of his clients.”
His entire career has consisted in representing those individuals society generally frowns upon. He continues to believe people addicted to controlled substances are in desperate need of help in order to get better. His continuing advocacy for those hooked on drugs or alcohol has given him the respect of his peers.
“I actually hate to see him retire,” said District Attorney Brett Carter, who will take over the public defender’s office after Neumann’s retirement. “He’s one of those lawyers that most attorneys hope to be.”
Carter said Neumann’s compassion for his clients gained him the respect of those he faced off with in the courtroom.
“You can go to court with Cal, and the very next day you could see him on the street and still be friends,” Carter said. “Two words that come to mind (to describe Neumann) are integrity and compassion.”
One reason Neumann relates to his clients: His daughter had a bout with substance addiction.
“I have learned things about addictions and the hold it has on people I represent. I don’t make judgments on those people. ” Neumann said. “They don’t know they have choices and they don’t reach out for help.”
His daughter is in her 11th year of sobriety, he said, and is now working full-time and pursuing a course of study at Texas Tech that will lead to a master’s in substance-abuse counseling.
From time to time Neumann will see former clients in public, he said. He is happy to know he helped people in his career.
Ninety-eight people showed up to his retirement dinner thrown Friday.
“I appreciate all the people I’ve ever worked with,” Neumann said. “I got some really nice acknowledgments (at my retirement dinner), and being the crybaby I am, I had to do some blubbering there.”