Editor's Note: The ENMU News will be running a law series about Greyhound Grads who are now serving as judges. This week's feature focuses on United States District Judge Robert C. Brack, who will be giving a presentation titled "Pathway to the Judiciary - from Greyhound to 'Your Honor'" with New Mexico District Judge Donna Mowrer on Sept. 28 from 9:30-11 a.m. in the Zia Room of the Campus Union Building.
The purpose of the presentation is to encourage ENMU students of all majors to consider a career in the law and to discuss law school. Since both of the judges giving the presentation are Greyhound Grads, it is evident that a degree from ENMU can lead you to a wonderful career. The judges will tell them about their journey from Eastern to law school and answer any questions students may have.
United States District Judge Robert C. Brack, who graduated with honors from Eastern New Mexico University in 1975, was sworn into his Las Cruces-based position on July 25, 2003. He was appointed by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate.
"My experience at Eastern was positive," said Judge Brack, who received a bachelor's degree in economics with a minor in French. His "enjoyed" his professors, including Fred Wuori, M.E. Bolin and Bob Matheny. He "developed a high personal regard" for Wayne Gares, the dean of students.
He studied economics due to a fascination with the "various competing economic systems around the world" and wanted to do a comparative study of them.
Judge Brack chose to attend ENMU because of a "combination of factors. I was from the Clovis area, and that was where my support system was. I chose Eastern because I could afford to go there. My wife, my girlfriend at the time, lived in Clovis. She [Sheila K. Massey], too, is a Greyhound. (BS, '86)."
He was not planning to go to law school, but professor M.E. Bolin suggested that he take the LSAT during his junior year.
"At that point, I was about to become engaged, and I was giving serious consideration to how I was going to support myself and my wife. Law school seemed to be a responsible alternative," explained Judge Brack, who was on the Dean's List during his time at ENMU and received a pre-law award/scholarship in the spring of 1974.
"The law school education, I believed, would be a helpful springboard into any number of careers. As I entered law school, I wasn't at all sure I wanted to practice law, but very quickly I fell in love with trial practice and was hooked."
Judge Brack practiced law from 1978 to 1997. He had a general civil trial practice, which he "enjoyed immensely."
In 1997, he was appointed to the State District Court by then Governor Gary Johnson. He served for six years until being appointed to the Federal Bench.
"I love what I do, coming to work every day. I have a fantastic staff, I'm surrounded by a really wonderful, competent, hard-working court family," said Judge Brack. "My greatest joy comes from being in the courtroom. I love the interaction with the lawyers and defendants.
"I hope to be remembered as a good man, a good judge who tempered justice with mercy; and who gave everyone who came in front of him a full hearing."
A typical day at work for Judge Brack starts with being in his office at 8 a.m. Starting at 8:45 or 9 a.m., he is on the bench. He has a daily sentencing docket that consists of those who have violated immigration and drug laws, which lasts most of the morning. He is typically in his Chambers tending to his civil docket and other matters in the afternoon.
Judge Brack advises students interested in following his career path to have a "strong educational background in English - given that writing skills are so important, or history, or political science, given that those education tracks all fit beautifully with a law school education. I would recommend getting the best possible legal education you can get without incurring huge amounts of debt."
With the help of some friends, Judge Brack started the Southern New Mexico Honor Flight, an organization designed to honor World War II Veterans and get them to Washington, D.C., to view the WWII Memorial (which wasn't completed until 2004).
"These are men and women of the Greatest Generation that are dying at a rate of 3,000 per day now. At the time we began the organization, veterans were dying at the rate of 1,500 a day," he explained. "The organization continues in Las Cruces, getting veterans from southern New Mexico back to Washington, D.C. to view the war memorials."
Judge Brack has conducted a Bible study at his church and, later, at his home for 30 years.
He was born in Lynwood, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. His father, W.E. Brack, worked for the Santa Fe Railroad. When he was three, the ENMU graduate moved to Chicago for his dad's next posting. At age 12 in 1965, the family transferred to Clovis, where his father served as a superintendent for the New Mexico Santa Fe Railroad. His father transferred back to Chicago in 1971, the year Judge Brack, who also goes by Bob, graduated from high school.
"I had fallen in love with New Mexico and decided to stay," said Judge Brack, one of six children. His two older brothers are deceased. His oldest sister, Pat Cantwell, was a pharmacist in Portales before she retired. His younger brother is a lawyer in Albuquerque. His younger sister, a retired cardiac care nurse, also retired from a second career in management training.
He went out with his now-wife for their first date on April 1, 1972. They married right after his graduation from ENMU in May 1975. The couple, who have been married for 42 years, have three "outstanding daughters, who all, praise God, took after their mother, beautiful as she is." Katy, their oldest daughter, is a lawyer and lives in Las Cruces with her husband, vet Dr. John Morrow from the Clovis Morrows. Their second daughter, Christy, lives in Phoenix, where she and her husband own/operate a printing company. Their youngest daughter, Carly, is in Abilene, Texas, working on a Master's in Christian Family and Addiction Counseling at Abilene Christian University. They have "four wonderful grandchildren and three grandogs."
Judge Brack's role models are Jesus ("As a Christian, my greatest influence is, of course, Jesus"), Abraham Lincoln ("From secular history, Abraham Lincoln has been a great influence. I can't read enough about our 16th President. A man of vision, courage and great intellect. Besides all that, he was a wonderful storyteller.") His role models "closer to home" are his father, Judge James Parker and deceased Portales businessman, Frank Poyner.
In spite of numerous joint replacements and major back surgery, Judge Brack continues to enjoy golf, travel, and Bible study and anything that involves my family getting together.
Judge Brack has received the following awards:
2001- Heart Award for Extraordinary Heart and Commitment to the Community; Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce
2003 - Outstanding Alumni, Eastern New Mexico University, Homecoming
2007 - Co-Founder, Honor Flight, Honoring WWII Veterans
2010 - Best of 2010, Southwest Contractors, Building Design Award for the Federal Courthouse
2011 - Outstanding Federal Jurist, American Board of Trial Advocates
2011 - Art in Public Places Award, for the Federal Courthouse, Dofia Ana Arts Council
2011 - Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary Club of Las Cruces, New Mexico
2011 - 'lnstrumento de Paz' (Instrument of Peace) Award, Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico
2011 to 2013 - Judicial Council Member, 10th Circuit
2015 - Distinguished Resident, Las Cruces Sun-News, Las Cruces, New Mexico
Click here for more information about Judge Brack, including photos.