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Professor Leo M. Romero

Leo Romero

Emeritus Professor of Law
A.B. 1965, Oberlin College
J.D. 1968, Washington University
LL.M. 1972, Georgetown University
Member of the New Mexico and District of Columbia Bars

 Curriculum Vitae

Contact Information

 Ph.: 505-277-8817
 Office: 3121


Professor Leo Romero, former dean, has been a member of the UNM law faculty since 1972. He teaches primarily in the area of criminal law and procedure, sharing with students a fascination with the theory underlying doctrine, as well as the practical application of the law. His scholarship has focused mostly in the area of criminal law, but recent publications have dealt with judicial selection issues, a subject with which he became familiar when he served as chair of the judicial nominating commissions for all courts in New Mexico.

Romero has served the law school as associate dean for academic affairs, dean and later as interim dean. During his six years as dean, Romero focused his efforts on expanding the Indian Law Program and the school's International Law course offerings. His efforts led to the establishment of an Indian Law Certificate program and the Southwest Indian Law Clinic. His focus on international law led to the creation of the U.S.-Mexico Law Journal, an exchange program with the University of Granada in Spain, and an exchange program under NAFTA with law schools in Mexico and Canada.

During his term as dean, as mandated by the New Mexico Constitution, Romero chaired the New Mexico Judicial Selection Commission. Because the commission system for selecting judges was relatively new when he became dean, he drafted the "Rules of Procedure Governing Judicial Nominating Commissions" and generally oversaw the development of this process for selecting judges in New Mexico. Based on this experience, he published two articles on judicial selection--"Proposal for an Alternative System of Judicial Selection Combining Commission Nomination and Election Methods," in the Government, Law, and Policy Journal of the Albany Law School (2001) and "Judicial Selection in New Mexico: A Hybrid of Commission Nomination and Partisan Election," in the New Mexico Law Review (2000).

Before joining the University of New Mexico Law School, Romero practiced criminal law in Washington, D.C., and began his teaching career at the Penn State University Dickinson School of Law as director of clinical studies. In addition to his service at the University of New Mexico, Romero has taught at a number of other law schools. He has been a visiting professor at Stanford University, The University of Oregon, George Washington University, Washington University at St. Louis, Roger Williams University, The University of California, and Hastings College of Law.

Active in legal education at the national level, Romero has served on the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law Schools and on the Board of Trustees of the Law School Admission Council, including a two-year term as chair. He currently serves on the board of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (Chair for two years) and the National Council of Washington University, St. Louis, School of Law. He recently finished a six-year term as Trustee of Oberlin College.

Professor Romero was recently appointed by The New Mexico Supreme Court to The New Mexico Public Defender Commission.

A graduate of Oberlin College, he received his law degree from Washington University at St. Louis, and earned a Masters in Law from Georgetown University Law Center (E. Barrett Prettyman Fellow).

He received The American Bar Association's 2014 Spirit of Excellence Award for his work in promoting racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession. The Supreme Court, in 2015, also appointed Romero to Chair the New Mexico Supreme Court Ad Hoc Pretrial Release Committee.


Proposed New Mexico Criminal Code and Commentaries (Univ. N.M. Sch. L. Inst. Pub. L. 1986).

Teachers' Manual for Problems and Cases in Trial Advocacy (Nat'l Inst. for Trial Advoc. (NITA), CLE ed., Rev. 1983) (co-author).

Examining Expert Witnesses (Legal Services Corp., 1981) (a two-volume set of teaching materials and trainer guide prepared for the Legal Services Corporation, Advocacy Training and Development Unit).

Chapters in Books

Chs. 6, 8, & 11 in Teachers' Guide to Rothsein, Evidence: Cases, Materials and Problems(1988).

Hispanics and the Criminal Justice System, in Hispanics in the United States, A New Social Agenda (1985) (co-authored with Luis Stelzner).


Punishment for Ecological Disasters: Punitive Damages and/or Criminal Sanctions, 7 U. ST. THOMAS L.J. 154 (2009).
Available at: SSRN

Punitive Damages, Criminal Punishment, and Proportionality: The Importance of Legislative Limits, 41 Conn. L. Rev. 109 (2008).
Available at: SSRN

Proposal for an Alternative System of Judicial Selection Combining Commission Nomination and Election Methods, Gov't L. & Pol'y J. Albany L. Sch. (2001).

Judicial Selection in New Mexico: A Hybrid of Commission Nomination and Partisan Election, 30 N.M. L. Rev. 177 (2000).

El Proceso de Acreditacin para las Facultades de Derecho en Estados Unidos, Cuaderno Numero 3, La Ensenanza del Derecho, Universidad Miguel de Cervantes, Santiago, Chile 99 (2000).

Reflections on the LSAC National Longitudinal Bar Passage Study: Two Findings That Have Immediate Impact, 67 B. Examiner (No. 4, Nov. 1998).

Unintentional Homicides Caused by Risk-Creating Conduct: Problems in Distinguishing Between Depraved Mind Murder, Second Degree Murder, Involuntary Manslaughter, and Noncriminal Homicide in New Mexico, 20 N.M. L. Rev. 55 (1990).

A Critique of the Willful, Deliberate, and Premeditated Formula for Distinguishing Between First and Second Degree Murder in New Mexico, 18 N.M. L. Rev. 73 (1988).

Discovery of Work Product and Liability Insurance, 12 N.M. Trial Law. 67, 76-79, 91-92 (1984).

An Assessment of Affirmative Action in Law School Admissions After Fifteen Years, 34 J. Legal Educ. 430 (1984).

Sufficiency of Provocation for Voluntary Manslaughter in New Mexico: Problems in Theory and Practice, 12 N.M. L. Rev. 747 (1982).

Competency to Stand Trial Under the Senate and House Proposed Provisions of the Federal Criminal Code, 72 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 434 (1981).

New Mexico Mens Rea Doctrines and the Uniform Criminal Jury Instructions: The Need for Revision, 8 N.M. L. Rev. 127 (1978).

The Quest for Educational Opportunity: Access to Legal and Medical Education in New Mexico, 53 N.M. Hist. Rev. 337 (1978).

The Admissibility of Scientific Evidence Under the New Mexico and Federal Rules of Evidence, 6 N.M. L. Rev. 187 (1976).

The Legal Education of Chicano Students-A Study in Mutual Accommodation and Cultural Conflict, 5 N.M. L. Rev. 177 (1975) (co-authored with Richard Delgado & Cruz Reynoso).


Rules of Procedure for the New Mexico Judicial Nominating Commissions, in N.M. STAT. ANN. (1996).

Desafio al Modelo de la Rehabilitacion en el Sistema Judicial del Menor en los Estados Unidos (1979) (published as a monograph for the Congreso Panamericano de Criminologia en Buenos Aires).

NATO Status of Forces Agreement: Its Application to American Juvenile Offenders in Germany, in Juvenile Justice Textbook Series (Nat'l Center for Juv. Just., 1975).

Book Reviews

Book Review, 57 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 388 (1988) (reviewing S. Kassin & L. Wrightsman, The American Jury on Trial: Psychological Perspectives (1988)).