Garnett Burks, Jr., who served 18 years as a state District Court judge, died in mid-January at a hospice center in Las Cruces. He was 74.
Burks was born and raised in Socorro and followed his father, also a state District Court judge, into the legal field. The younger Burks earned his undergraduate degree in government at the University of New Mexico, followed by his J.D. in 1959.
He moved to Las Cruces and was a member of three law firms before being appointed to the Third Judicial District bench in 1971 when he was 36. Preceding his appointment to the bench, lawyers he practiced with included LaFel Oman, Ralph Wanek, Bill Bivens and Neil Weinbrenner. In 1989, he resigned to return to private practice, which he missed while on the bench.
Throughout his career, Burks maintained a strong commitment to public service. He was a delegate to the New Mexico State Constitutional Convention in 1969, served in the state House of Representatives, was a member of the New Mexico State Penitentiary Board and organized the 1970 gubernatorial campaign of Gov. Bruce King.
Among his many community involvements, he was active in the Yucca Boy Scout Council and several Masonic organizations. He enjoyed classical literature and philosophy, gardening and spending time with his family and his dogs.