Judge Ricky Purcell
U.S. District Court Judge Ricky Purcell seemed a little out his comfort zone on Friday. He was sitting in the jurors box.
Purcell sat quietly as court administrator Diane Ulibarri hosted a light roast for the 75 people who had gathered for the judge’s retirement party.
Purcell who has served as judge for 15 and a half years will retire June 30.
Ulibarri recalled how all the court’s office staff, mostly women, had convinced the judge of the need to redecorate and how it would only take about 10 days. “Well, about three months,” later, she said, it was finally completed.
Ulibarri said the judge had an open door policy and was fair-minded.
That sentiment was seconded in a letter of congratulations from New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Edward Chavez. “The open door policy you have maintained for courthouse staff and the legal community created an environment of trust; an example of leadership style all of us can aspire to emulate,” wrote Chavez.
Purcell said he was looking forward to having more time to spend at home and at his ranch.
The San Jon native has several horses and is also a musician who plays the steel guitar.
After his years on the bench, Purcell said he’d learned that “life is complicated” as he watched people’s lives play out from one extreme to the other.
Also, from his point of view, one of the biggest problems he’s seen escalate is the preponderance of drugs.
“It’s increased and it’s really going to be a problem for society,” he said. “And we’d better get it under control.”
Purcell also said he thought that there was less congeniality among lawyers these days.
However, in the small community of Tucumcari, he said, fellow attorneys were more cooperative and friendly.