Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Thank you for those kind words. It is a pleasure to be here in Albuquerque with you today as we celebrate the latest step in Damon Martinez’s remarkable career. It is an honor to join such a distinguished group in marking his official swearing-in as United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico. I’d like to extend a special welcome to Damon’s family and friends – including his wife Holly and his mother Carmen – along with exceptional leaders and dedicated public servants like Senator Udall, Chief Judge Armijo and other members of the federal bench here in New Mexico, Mayor Berry, former U.S. Ambassador to Spain Ed Romero, former Chief Justice Serna and Justice Chavez of the New Mexico Supreme Court, and Jim Marquez, Damon’s uncle who is a former U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas. Thank you all for helping to make this event so special.
Damon has devoted his career to serving the people of his home state of New Mexico. From his earliest days in the offices of U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman and Congressman Tom Udall, to his work as Assistant Attorney General in the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, to his service in the New Mexico National Guard, he has always stood ready to support, protect, defend, and advance the lives and livelihoods of his fellow citizens, both in this state and throughout the country. With his years of outstanding work as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Office he now leads, he expertly managed sensitive national security and anti-terrorism matters for the District of New Mexico. And today, he builds on that rich experience and steadfast commitment by formally taking on his biggest professional responsibility yet.
As someone who has worked with U.S. Attorneys throughout the country, I can tell you that Damon has the expertise, the good judgment, and the integrity to be a U.S. Attorney of terrific distinction in New Mexico and across the nation. As we have already seen over the last several months, he is well-prepared to serve as this state’s top federal law enforcement official. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s one of the nicest guys working in public service today.
My colleagues at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division – and I personally – have had the great fortune of working with Damon and the staff at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. For years as we have collaborated closely on critical civil rights cases and other important priorities. Nowhere has his leadership been more important, or more necessary, than during the Justice Department’s extensive investigation of the Albuquerque Police Department’s practice of using deadly force. Damon was instrumental in ensuring that all individuals who were impacted by our investigation will have a voice in the future of their police department. Since we released our report, Damon’s office and mine have continued to engage with everyone affected in the community – including Mayor Berry and Chief Eden – and we hope soon to announce a forward-looking, comprehensive agreement for reform that we can all get behind.
Damon’s leadership was also vital to advancing the cause of civil rights in the District of New Mexico beyond this very important matter. Damon’s predecessor, Judge Ken Gonzales, began the process of developing a strong partnership between the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Damon has not missed a beat in building upon that foundation. As a result of this great partnership, together our offices have filed charges and successfully prosecuted a number of criminal civil rights cases, including cases against corrections officers, probation officers, and law enforcement officers who have abused their authority, and individuals who have committed violent racially-motivated assaults.
The partnership between our two offices has extended to civil enforcement of civil rights by enforcing federal statutes that prohibit discrimination. Together we have successfully resolved civil cases filed under the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act to the USAO.
In addition to case-related work, attorneys from the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney’s Office have collaborated in community outreach activities by making presentations at civil rights and Indian Country conferences and training programs.
As a result of this good work, and due to Damon’s leadership here, there is a growing sentiment in the District of New Mexico that the community can look to the Department of Justice to seek justice when civil rights have been violated.
In the few short months since he took office, Damon has hit the ground running, stepping forward to address some of the most pressing issues this community faces. He has quickly moved forward with forging and reinforcing the important partnerships necessary to address crime and corruption, and to fight against violence in the community. I know that Damon will bring the same level of professionalism, dedication, and passion to the myriad of complex issues he will face in the months and years to come.
As we administer the oath of office to him, we can all recognize that Damon Martinez is superbly qualified to lead the hardworking men and women who serve this important United States Attorney’s Office; to draw upon his experience and expertise in advancing its critical work; and to extend the tradition of excellence and integrity that has always defined our very best United States Attorneys.
Damon, I’m honored to count you as a colleague and partner, and I’m delighted to share this moment with you. On behalf of the Department of Justice, I congratulate you, once again, on this well-deserved honor.