Professor Veronica C. Gonzales-Zamora
Assistant Professor of Law
B.A. 2008, University of New Mexico
J.D. 2015, University of New Mexico School of Law
Member of the New Mexico Bar
Veronica Gonzales-Zamora has taught the Southwest Indian Law Clinic, appellate decision-making, civil procedure I and II, poverty law, and ethics. A New Mexican native, Gonzales-Zamora is a first-generation college graduate.
During law school, as an Arturo Jaramillo Summer Clerk, Gonzales-Zamora worked for David H. Urias (’01) at the civil litigation firm Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward P.A.. She later worked for other notable alumni including as an extern for retired Justice Charles W. Daniels (‘69) of the New Mexico Supreme Court; as a law clerk for Morris Chavez (‘98) at SaucedoChavez, P.C.; and as a research assistant for Beth Gillia (’97) at the Institute of Public Law. As a student in the Southwest Indian Law Clinic she co-briefed and argued an appeal before the New Mexico Court of Appeals under the supervision of Professor Barbara Creel (’90), and graduated with clinical honors.
After law school, Gonzales-Zamora worked as a judicial law clerk for the chambers of retired Justice Petra Jimenez Maes (’73) of the New Mexico Supreme Court, and as a senior law clerk for Chief Judge M. Monica Zamora (‘87) of the New Mexico Court of Appeals. She gained litigation experience as an associate attorney, first, at the David Walther Law Firm (now known as Walther, Bennett, Mayo, Honeycutt, P.C.), a boutique family law firm located in Santa Fe, NM, litigating family law cases involving intricate finances, multiple geographies, or complex custody. Then, she worked at the Albuquerque office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Shreck, LLP, a regional law firm representing corporations in a variety of commercial litigation matters.
Gonzales-Zamora served as a board member of the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association’s Civil Rights Law Section. She currently serves as board member of the New Mexico chapter of the Federal Bar Association, for which she has chaired the Law Student Mentorship Program beginning with the national pilot program in 2016. Gonzales-Zamora is also the founding and current Chair of the Governance Board for Solare Collegiate Charter School, which will be located on the southwest mesa of Albuquerque.
In addition to civil procedure, her academic interests include access to justice, appellate access to justice, resources for self-represented litigants, and unbundled legal services. For example, as a member of the ABA’s Council of Appellate Lawyers, Gonzales-Zamora was a contributing author to the ABA’s Appellate Pro Bono Manual Update (2nd ed. 2017). Gonzales-Zamora currently serves as a member of the Volunteer Attorney Panel with NM Legal Aid and the American Bar Association’s (ABA) www.abafreelegalanswers.org initiative in New Mexico.
The goal of this class is to offer a “behind-the-scenes” look into the appellate court, which, in turn, will offer insight into how to practice before the trial and appellate courts. Students will act as judges on the N.M. Court of Appeals and work in panels of three to resolve actual cases before the Court. Students will gain an understanding of how judges approach issues, decide cases, and write opinions. This will include the way in which judges limit issues, decide cases narrowly, try to get to the critical and decisive issue, and struggle with cases that can rationally be decided either way.
In addition, students will complete this course with:
- An awareness of the importance of careful trial practice (e.g., preservation of error; preservation of argument; identification of critical issues; development of facts, issues, and arguments; offers of proof).
- An understanding of appellate briefing (e.g., quality product; identification of issues; lack of development of facts, issues, or arguments; identification of the standard of review; raising preservation issues; following rules; avoiding obvious mistakes; good writing skills; brevity; editing by colleagues).
- An understanding of the importance of collegiality and the processes of panel discussions, collaborative decision-making, and opinion writing.
Course Content: Class time will include training on the concepts underlying appellate review generally and the challenges appellate judges wrestle with daily, as well as the specific processes involved in the administration of the New Mexico Court of Appeals. Guest speakers will be invited to discuss appellate practice, judicial selection/elections, differences between the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and other topics.
Each panel of three students will receive three cases (including briefs, excerpts of the record proper, and transcripts of proceedings) to resolve. We will hand out all case materials and assign panels and primary authorship to students on the first day of class. During the semester, each student will draft an opinion to circulate to the other two participants on their panel. Each participant will also draft a “participation memorandum” that makes substantive and technical suggestions with respect to the circulating proposed opinion. At some point, the panel members will discuss whether any participant will be writing separately in a dissent or special concurrence. A portion of class time will be devoted to discussing common challenges encountered at each step of the opinion drafting process and allowing students to receive guidance from and share their experiences and challenges directly with the professors. Students will be graded on their primary opinion and the opinions they join (or, alternatively, their special concurrence or dissent) as well as smaller assignments and class participation.
Location: The class will meet in the library on the third floor of the N.M. Court of Appeals. The building is secured, so it is important that you arrive with enough time to gain access to the third floor.
Min/Max Students: This course requires a minimum of nine (9) and a maximum of twelve (12) students.
Civil Procedure I
Civil Procedure I is an introduction to procedures employed by state and federal courts for resolution of civil disputes. The course investigates the process of forum selection, the rules implementing the requirement of notice and an opportunity to be heard, the pleadings stage of litigation, the discovery process, and the summary judgment mechanism as a device for terminating litigation prior to trial. The advanced course, Civil Procedure II, is offered to 2L and 3L students and continues the chronological study of civil litigation through the appellate process.
Civil Procedure II
This course continues the analysis (begun in Civil Procedure I) of the procedural stages of a simple lawsuit, considers special problems raised by complex litigation, and explores alternatives to traditional litigation as a means of resolving disputes.
Course topics include: pre-trial conference; judge and jury selection; judgment as a matter of law; jury instructions and form of verdict; findings of fact and conclusions of law; post-trial motions for new trial and renewed requests for judgment as a matter of law; appeal; motions for relief from judgment; collateral estoppel, res judicata and law of the case; joinder, impleader, intervention, interpleader, declaratory actions and class actions; and arbitration. The focus is on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, but New Mexico procedural law is also considered throughout the course.
We will study the rules governing the professional conduct of lawyers and explore the values of the legal system which justify and explain those rules. Specific subject matter includes: the duties of competence, confidentiality, and loyalty; acquisition and retention of clients (including undertaking representation, advertising, solicitation, and withdrawal from representation); and problems concerning the manner of representation (the "Principle of Professionalism" and "zealous advocacy within the bounds of the law"). Concepts will be illustrated through application of the rules to problems, use of video and audio clips for discussion, supplementary readings, and student presentations of rules and cases related to assigned fact patterns. In addition to the traditional final essay examination, quizzes on various topics, using questions taken directly from the MPRE practice exams, will be given throughout the semester.
Indian Civil Rights
Exploring tribal sovereignty; status of Indians and tribes through history; the historical context and purposes of enactment of ICRA; scope, limitation, and enforcement of ICRA; impact on tribal sovereignty and individual rights; modern application in federal/ state/ tribal courts; evolution and impact of TLOA, VAWA, AEDPA; criminal and civil jurisdiction in Indian country; state power over Indian affairs; case studies regarding equal protection, due process, religious freedom, education, identity and enrollment, prisons, indian gaming, child welfare; and broader policy considerations such as human rights and tribal self-determination.
- The Indian Civil Rights Act at Forty, 2012 ed., Edited by Kristen A. Carpenter, Matthew L.M. Fletcher, and Angela R. Riley, ISBN 978-0-935626-67-4
- The Rights of Indians and Tribes, 4th ed. (2012), Authored by Stephen L. Pevar, ISBN 978-0199795352
Moot Court Competition - National Native American Law Student Association
Contact instructor for course description.
Contact instructor for course description.
Southwest Indian Law Clinic
Background –The Southwest Indian Law Clinic (SILC) provides high quality legal representation and clinical practice experience in Indian Country. SILC is pro-active in the advocacy, promotion and establishment of indigenous people’s rights. SILC students may represent individual clients and/or tribal groups or Indian communities. Through representation, students may be exposed to issues arising from historical oppression, poverty and under-representation, and other issues related to culture, race and socio-economic status in the legal system. Students are taught to approach legal solutions premised on tribal sovereignty, cultural rights or traditional internal law, as well as general legal principles.
Type of Case Work – The type of case work depends largely on the existing caseload and new case intake, but the Clinic experience is also driven by individual student interest and energy.
The Southwest Indian Law Clinic handles cases arising under federal, state or tribal law. Students may have opportunities to appear in all courts and to assist clients in access and use of tribal traditional dispute resolution in their community. SILC cases allow students to engage in vigorous defense, active motion practice and extensive brief writing. These cases typically involve people that would go without representation, but for SILC.
Clients – Potential clients come from the outlying and nearby Pueblos and tribal communities, and the urban Indian population. In addition to serving walk-in clients, SILC may provide legal services or intake at community intake sites in and around Albuquerque. Students may also engage in project work with tribal governments, non-profit organizations and non-governmental Indian organizations.
Clinic Class and Office hours – Students will be required (1) to attend and actively participate in up to five classroom sessions (ten during summer’s first three weeks) during each week of the academic semester and (2) to maintain, in addition to classroom hours, a schedule of 24 (2-hours block) fixed office hours (physically present in the clinic, working on clinic matters) each week during Summer, or 16 (2-hours block) fixed office hours each week during Fall and Spring semesters.
Classroom learning complements and supports both the high quality representation and professionalism in all dealings with clients, staff, supervisors, the judiciary, opposing parties and others. Classroom discussions of pending cases and assigned readings; role-play and simulation; and cultural and racial literacy exercises enable students to practice and gain confidence in skills such as, client interviewing and counseling, advocacy, and communication.
Questions about the Southwest Indian Law Clinic? Please feel free to visit with Profs. Creel or Zuni Cruz. Have a great Clinic experience!
Tribal Law Journal
Students enrolled in the Law of Indigenous Peoples class will be invited to join the Tribal Law Journal staff for the fall and spring semesters of their second and third years. The journal is an exclusively on-line journal devoted to advancing indigenous self-determination through promoting scholarship and discussion on internal indigenous law. Students will meet throughout the year to learn, not only correct Bluebook citation styles, but also how to cite sources of traditional law. Students will be given the opportunity to edit and source check scholarly papers submitted to the journal, including substantive and technical editing, as well as opportunities to promote the mission of the journal in the community and submit their own written work for publication. The journal provides students the opportunity to learn more about indigenous law and to contribute their voice to the discussion relating to the internal law of the world’s indigenous people.
Bar & Trade Articles
Comment in Support of Proposal 2018-006 – Immigration status of bar applicants (Rule 15-103(B)(7)), N.M. HISP. BAR ASSOC. (April 11, 2018).
Available at: UNM-DR
State Habeas and Tribal Habeas: Identical or Fraternal Twins, 36(4) ABA APP. PRAC. J. (August 31, 2017) (co-authored with Barbara Creel).
Appellate Pro Bono Manual Update (2d ed. November 4, 2017) (co-authored).
Available at: UNM-DR
Brief for Washington Legal Foundation as Amici Curiae, Arguedas v. Seawright, D-0101-CV-2013-10293 (2017) (N.M. APP. CT. NO. A-1-CA-35699) (co-authored with Harold D. Stratton, Jr.).
Available at: UNM-DR
Brief for Association of Commerce & Industry as Amici Curiae, Beaudry v. Farmers Ins. Exchange, et al. D-101-CV-2011-00646 (2017) (N.M. SUP. CT. NO. S-1-SC-36181).
Available at: UNM-DR
Brief for National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as Amici Curiae, Fortino Alvarez v. Randy Tracy (2015) (US CT. APPEALS NINTH CIR. NO. 12-15788) (co-authored with Barbara Creel).
Available at: UNM-DR