By Chris Romero, PNT Correspondent
Name: Drew Tatum
Job: District Judge, Division II of the 9th Judicial District
Background: Tatum grew up in the area and graduated from University of New Mexico with a degree in political science and psychology, then went to law school at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. Afterwards he joined the Air Force and became a judge advocate general (military attorney) for eight years. After the Air Force he came to Clovis and worked for the District Attorney’s Office and later went into private practice. He was appointed district judge by Governor Bill Richardson in October.
Time on job: Six months
Q. Describe what your job entails?
A. I’m a tryer of the law and as a district judge there are both felony cases, misdemeanors the district court can hear. Criminal cases are the bulk of the work. A jury trial docket hears 20 cases. On Monday we have jury selection. The next four days those 20 cases are tried.
Q. What is a typical day on the job like for you?
A. A typical day can be a hodge-podge of all types of cases, some days the day starts in hearing cases and suddenly it is five o’ clock. In one day it can go from sentencing to a divorce case that could involve child custody. “I’ve yet to have the same day”, says Tatum.
Q. Why did you choose this job?
A. “Most of my career has been public service and the one thing I enjoy the most is feeling good about what I do.” So when this position was open Tatum decided to put his name in for it. Experience, Tatum felt, was what qualified him for this position.
Q. What type of training, if any, do you need for your job?
A. The training is to be a licensed attorney, plus a certain amount of years of experience, and practice and once you get here, your training is your experience. As a judge you’re not expected to know everything however it’s important to find the right answer. Required education is three years of law school plus four years of undergraduate work at a four-year college or university. You need a good amount of courtroom experience and real world experience, says Tatum.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?
A. Each day is extremely challenging and I ask for the strength from God to do the right thing. There are many issues on which to make a decision and you can’t dwell on decisions you have made. “It’s better to take your time to make the right decision then be hasty and possibly make the wrong decision.”