District judge putting down gavel

CNJ file photo Joe Parker, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, regrets having to leave the legal world.

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom Newspapers

District Judge Joe Parker has resigned his position, effective today, citing an ongoing battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Though it may seem like a sudden announcement, Parker said it was a very difficult decision that he and his wife talked and prayed about at length.

“In reality my wife and I were laboring over it for the last several months,” he said. “It was not an easy one.”

Diagnosed four years ago, Parker said he came to the decision it was best he step aside.

The 25-year legal veteran said Monday he tendered his formal resignation last week.

“(I) have done my best to try to stay ahead of (Parkinson’s) and I feel I have stayed ahead of it but it is a noble foe,” he said.

Parker said it is a sad decision in many ways and he will greatly miss the legal world, especially in the local district.

“I will miss the courtroom setting. It’s a delightful way to make a living — it’s a good environment right now in our district court.”

Formerly splitting his time between the Clovis and Portales court, Parker became a full-time Portales judge in May. The recent move to Portales weighed heavy on his mind while contemplating his decision but he said he is confident a solution will be found in his absence.

As to the future, he is still figuring out what he will do with his time. After so many years in legal work, he said laughing, “I’ll probably try to apply the law to everything.”

Parker, one of five judges serving the 9th Judicial District, was appointed to the position by Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson in 2003. At that time he was distinguished as being the first Republican appointed to a judgeship by Richardson.

Prior to his appointment he ran a private law firm for 21 years.

Retired District Judge Bill Bonem will fill in as judge pro-tem until a new candidate is selected, a court official said Monday. The position has not yet been announced.

When the position opens, candidates will submit applications, documents, provide references and must pass a 16-person committee before being recommended to the governor for appointment.

The governor will then make the final determination who will fill the position.