Ned was raised by a single mother as the oldest of 5 children as his mother worked to raise her family and put herself through nursing school. From an early age, Ned learned from his Mother the value of hard work and a great sense of humor. When he was 19 years old Ned served as a missionary in Nagoya, Japan for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. On this mission, Ned learned the importance of service, respect for other cultures and every person’s individual worth. Upon returning home from his mission, Ned attended Arizona State University graduating cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English. It was there that he met his wife of 32 years, Julie Jensen. He attended Brigham Young University law school graduating cum laude with his Juris Doctor and then moved to New Mexico to practice law and raise his family.
Ned and his wife, Julie, have been married for over 32 years. Julie was raised in Northern New Mexico. She received her degree in chemical engineering at Brigham Young University and her masters from Arizona State University. Ned and Julie met while she was tutoring him in Algebra. They recognized their personal chemistry and began dating. After a whirlwind courtship they were married in Mesa, Arizona. When Ned finished law school, they moved back to New Mexico where they built their home and raised their four wonderful daughters. Ned and Julie now have three grandchildren. They enjoy spending time with their family, being outdoors, hiking, kayaking, running and enjoying ice cream together.
Ned has practiced law in New Mexico for over 26 years representing a variety of clients in contract, tort, civil rights and workers compensation matters. Under Governor Susana Martinez, Ned served as Director of the Workers’ Compensation Administration where he oversaw the Court system helping to reduce delays while ensuring that Employers, Insurers and Health Care Workers followed the laws and rules to provide quick, efficient and effective care for injured employees. He was later appointed as Acting Cabinet Secretary of the General Services Department where he oversaw approximately 300 employees and a $140 million budget. In 2014, he was appointed as a 2nd Judicial District Court Judge. Ned is currently a Deputy District Attorney in the Eleventh Judicial District Attorney Office in Farmington handling mostly felony cases.
Service is an important part of Ned’s life. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ned has served in a number of capacities including as a Bishop overseeing the spiritual and temporal needs of approximately 500 people, youth teacher and working with Julie at the jail helping inmates with addiction recovery. Ned has also served on his homeowners’ association board when the board reduced the association fees. Ned served as a youth sports coach in basketball, soccer and softball. Ned also worked as an AVID instructor with high school youth at Highlands High School. Ned and Julie also served as merit badge counselors for the Boy Scouts of America.
Judges are the guardians of the Constitution and the law. No one wants a guardian to rewrite the rules to favor one side or another. It is critical to have judges who follow the law and do not rewrite it. The most important quality for a judge is humility. A judge must enforce the Constitution to protect civil liberties and restrain political leaders. However, in doing so a judge must restrain him or herself to ensure that he or she is not simply imposing his or her will in place of the will of the people. As Alexander Hamilton said in Federalist Papers No. 78, “[t]he Courts must declare the sense of the law; and if they would be disposed to exercise will instead of judgment, the consequence would equally be the substitution of their pleasure to that of the legislative body.”
Ned’s priorities are to preserve the Constitution by putting the law above politics, ensure the safety of our community, and reduce delays. The Constitution and laws should be applied to protect individual rights regardless of the political party, race, gender or economic status of those affected.
Criminal justice requires that we balance the rights of the accused with the safety of our community. Additionally, the New Mexico Supreme Court has instituted pre-trial detention rules for criminal suspects. Ned believes that we need to revisit those rules to ensure that the right balance is being met between holding dangerous defendants in jail pending trial and honoring the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty. If a person is convicted or pleads guilty, then they should be held accountable for their conduct. Rehabilitation is a worthy goal but, upon conviction, the safety of the community must take precedence.
In New Mexico, a victim has a constitutional right to a trial within a reasonable time and a criminal defendant has a constitutional right to a speedy trial. We need to do a better job of reducing delays for both the defendant and the victim. The longer it takes to try a case, the more likelihood that witnesses and victims’ memories will fade, such witnesses and victims will move, and evidence will become lost.