Gene Franchini, retired justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court and a champion of moral principles, died on Nov. 4, doing what he loved best: sharing his ethical philosophy with first-year students at the UNM School of Law. He was 74.
Franchini, beloved by the legal community and a longtime friend of the law school, collapsed during his annual talk with new law students, during which he shared his personal convictions and encouraged them to pursue their legal careers with courage and high ethical standards.
"He has been a wonderful friend to the law school for many years and we will miss him greatly," said Dean Kevin Washburn. "Everyone at the school is mourning his tragic death, but we will always remember him for his commitment to our students and the profession."
Franchini was born and raised in Albuquerque and earned a BBA from UNM Anderson School of Management in 1957. (In 2008, he was inducted into the UNM Anderson School of Management Hall of Fame.)
He went on to Georgetown University for law school, but returned to his home state to practice law. After 24 years in private practice, he joined the Second Judicial Court bench, where he served for six years. In 1990, he was appointed to the New Mexico Supreme Court, and served as chief justice from 1997-1999. He stepped down in 2002. As an appellate justice he authored more than 160 opinions and participated in more than 425 published opinions.
He helped create the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission in 1997 and recently had served as vice chair. After stepping down from the bench, he worked as a mediator.
In addition to his dedication to law students, at the law school, Franchini had served as commencement speaker and master of ceremonies of the Distinguished Achievement Awards Dinner.