Photo: Leo M. Romero

Leo M. Romero

Professor Emeritus


  • 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

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.


Criminal Law in Practice

Course Description

Pre-req.: Evidence, co-req.: Ethics

Highly Recommended: Criminal Procedure I, Criminal Procedure II, Trial Practice, Evidence & Trial Practice

This course will be led by Professor Leo Romero or Professor Kevin Washburn. The professor will be assisted by four adjuncts--two adjuncts assigned to the course by the Bernalillo County Public Defender’s Office and by two assigned by the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s office.

Law School Credit and Grading

The course will be offered for four credits, and will be graded on a “CR”, “C-”, ”D+”, “D”, “D-“, “F” basis. Although the course includes a field experience component, it does not count toward the required six credit hours of “in-house” clinic.

Classroom component

The class will meet for two hours each week. Instruction will include topics of applied criminal law, evidence, professional responsibility, and trial practice. Students will view problems from the perspectives of both criminal defense lawyers and prosecutors. The perspective of others in the criminal justice system, such as judges and corrections workers will also be included to the extent possible. Because the classroom component will involve both defenders and prosecutors, principles of professionalism will be explored.

Field Experience Component

Up to eight students will be assigned to the Bernalillo County Public Defender’s Office and up to eight will be assigned to the District Attorney’s Office for field experience work. The field experience will consist of ten hours per week. The supervision of the students’ field work will be provided by assistant public defenders and assistant district attorneys. These attorneys will work with students to assure that the students have meaningful field work each week. In addition to hands on experience, students’ field work will include observation of many of the lawyering tasks undertaken within the respective offices. Students may be assigned to either the felony or misdemeanor division. Depending on a student’s qualifications (having completed courses in criminal procedure, evidence, and trial practice) she or he will be assigned direct case responsibility (under the supervision of an experienced lawyer) for handling all or portions of their assigned cases, including motions and trials in a wide array of cases. The experience will be rich, intensive, and diverse. Students interested in working in the District Attorney's Office will need to undergo a criminal background check.

Criminal Procedure II (Bail to Jail)

Course Description

This course will focus on the aspects of criminal procedure that are not covered in Criminal Procedure I. Thus, we will not address the Fourth Amendment (search and seizure) or the Fifth Amendment (due process and confessions). Using a problem oriented approach, this class will cover topics such as: charging decisions, bail, preliminary hearings, grand jury proceedings, discovery, Brady issues, double jeopardy, joinder and severance, speedy trial, plea bargaining, effective assistance of counsel, sentencing, and habeas corpus.

This class will also be open to first year students.


Books & Book Chapters

Proposed New Mexico Criminal Code and Commentaries (UNMSOL Institute Public Law, 1986).

Teachers' Manual for Problems and Cases in Trial Advocacy (National Institute for Trial Advocacy, 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).

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

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

The Administrative Model of Juvenile Justice: The NATO Status of Forces Agreement Application to American Juvenile Offenders in Germany (1975).
Available at: Law Library


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

Punitive Damages, Criminal Punishment, and Proportionality: The Importance of Legislative Limits, 41 CONN. L. REV. 109 (2008).
Available at: UNM-DR

Enhancing Diversity in an Appointive System of Selecting Judges, 34 FORDHAM URBAN L.J. 485 (2007).
Available at: UNM-DR

Procedures for Investigating and Prosecuting White Collar Crime, 11 U.S.-MEX. L.J. 165 (2003).
Available at: US-MEX

Panel Discussion: Mexico and U.S. White Collar Crime Prevention at the Millennium, 11 U.S.-MEX. L.J. 183 (2003).
Available at: US-MEX

Resolving Land-Use Disputes by Intimidation: Slapp Suits in New Mexico, 32 N.M. L. REV. 217 (2002).
Available at: NMLR

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

El Proceso de Acreditacin para las Facultades de Derecho en Estados Unidos, 3 LA ENSENANZA DEL DERECHO 99 (2000) (Universidad Miguel de Cervantes, Santiago, Chile).

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).
Available at: NMLR

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).
Available at: NMLR

An Assessment of Affirmative Action in Law School Admissions After Fifteen Years: A Need for Recommitment, 34 J. LEGAL EDUC. 430 (1984).
Available at: UNM-DR

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

Competency to Stand Trial Under the Senate and House Proposed Provisions of the Federal Criminal Code, 72 J. CRIM. L. & CRIMINOLOGY 434 (1981).
Available at: UNM-DR

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

The Quest for Educational Opportunity: Access to Legal and Medical Education in New Mexico, 53 N.M. HIST. REV. 337 (1978).
Available at: UNM-DR

The Admissibility of Scientific Evidence Under the New Mexico and Federal Rules of Evidence, 6 N.M. L. REV. 187 (1976).
Available at: NMLR

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).
Available at: NMLR

The Federal Air Pollution Program, 19 WASH. U. L. REV. 283 (1968).
Available at: UNM-DR

The New Jersey Estoppel Statute in Subdivision Control Administration, 1968 URBAN L. ANN. 163 (1968).
Available at: UNM-DR

Bar & Trade Publications

Proposal for an Alternative System of Judicial Selection Combining Commission Nomination and Election Methods, GOV'T L. & POL'Y J. (2001).

Reflections on the LSAC National Longitudinal Bar Passage Study: Two Findings That Have Immediate Impact, 67.4 B. EXAMINER (November 1998).
Available at: UNM-DR

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

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

Desafio al Modelo de la Rehabilitacion en el Sistema Judicial del Menor en los Estados Unidos (Congreso Panamericano de Criminologia en Buenos Aires, 1979).


Introduction, 37 NAT. RESOURCES J. 1 (1997)
Available at: NRJ

Concluding Remarks, 2 U.S.-MEX. L.J. 181 (1994).
Available at: US-MEX

Concluding Remarks, 1 U.S.-MEX. L.J. 347 (1993).
Available at: US-MEX

Book Reviews

S. Kassin & L. Wrightsman's The American Jury on Trial: Psychological Perspectives (1988), 57 GEO. WASH. L. REV. 388 (1988).
Available at: UNM-DR

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