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Rudy S. Apodaca

Rudy S. Apodaca

Rudy S. Apodaca, born on August 8, 1939, is an American Lawyer and former jurist, having served on the New Mexico Court of Appeals. He was first elected to that position in November of 1986, and later re-elected. Taking office as a Judge on the Court on January 1, 1987, he served in that position for almost 14 years, over 2 years as Chief judge. He is presently performing mediation/arbitration services in central Texas, officing in the Austin metropolitan area. He is licensed to practice law in Texas and New Mexico.


Bilingual in English and Spanish, Apodaca was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico to Mexican-American parents, Reymundo Apodaca and Elisa Alvarez Apodaca.

Raised a Catholic, he grew up in Las Cruces, where he attended parochial and public schools, graduating from Las Cruces High School in 1957.

He has been married to Nancy Mitcham, a native of Arkansas, for 54 years, and together, they have four children and eight grandchildren.

Apodaca and his spouse currently reside in the Austin, Texas metropolitan area. He is a U. S. Army veteran, having served on active duty from October 1964 to October 1966 as a Communications & Electronics Security Officer in the United States Army Security Agency, a branch of the U. S. Army. He was honorably relieved from active duty in October 1966, having attained the rank of Captain. Having later fulfilled his Army Reserve commitment, he received his Honorable Discharge from the United States Army on May 31, 1972.

He graduated with honors from New Mexico State University in June 1961 with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics. Three years later, in June 1964, he graduated from Georgetown University Law Center with a Juris Doctorate degree.

Upon his graduation from law school, he returned to his native New Mexico, where he was admitted to practice law in August 1964.

He practiced law in the southern New Mexico area for several months, while awaiting orders to begin his two-year tour of duty as a first lieutenant with the U. S. Army.

After his discharge from active duty, he returned to Las Cruces to practice law as a solo practitioner for a 22-year period, before taking a seat as a jurist on the New Mexico Court of Appeals.

During that period of his practice, he handled an extensive trial practice, some appellate practice, criminal law, contracts, torts, administrative law and proceedings, adoptions, business and corporate law, real estate law, civil rights litigation and proceedings, administrative law, and municipal law.

A description of typical clients and the nature of Apodaca's practice: General Counsel and town attorney for the Town of Mesilla, an incorporated village; General Counsel for the school board of the Gadsden Independent School District; appointed Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of New Mexico by the Attorney General to represent the New Mexico Highway Department in selected condemnation (eminent domain) cases in Dona Ana County; represented Citizens Bank of Las Cruces as General Counsel for nine years; during the first ten years of practice, concentrated heavily on criminal defense work; later handled cases as a trial attorney, representing clients in personal injury, products liability, and wrongful death cases.

In addition to serving as attorney for Citizens Bank, he was elected as a member of that bank's Board of Directors, where he served as director for 11 years.

In 1975, he was appointed by the Governor of New Mexico as a regent to serve on the Board of Regents of his alma mater, New Mexico State University, where he served for eight years, two years as Board President.

Aside from having authored 1,127 opinions, specially concurring opinions and dissents as an appellate judge, he has written numerous essays and commentaries not only on the law but covering many other subjects and areas.

Thirty four of these commentaries were published and appeared in daily newspapers: The Austin-American Statesman, the San Antonio Express-News, and the Houston Chronicle.

Apodaca has authored three novels, The Waxen Image, in 1977, Pursuit, in 2003, and A Rare Thing, in 2012, the latter, a coming-of-age story set in the 1950s and 1960s in the small town of San Carlos in southern New Mexico.

The book received positive pre-publication endorsements.

Pursuit, a suspense-thriller, was selected as a Finalist in ForeWord Magazine's 2003 Book of the Year Awards.

It placed among the top 10 mystery novels out of about 100 entries in that competition.

In addition, Pursuit placed among the top 5 entries out of 98 entries entered in Independent Publisher's 2004 Book Awards in that publication's mystery/suspense/thriller category.

Early life

Apodaca was born on August 8, 1939 in Las Cruces, what was then a small town in southern New Mexico.

His father, Raymond Apodaca, and his mother, Elisa Alvarez, were also born in Las Cruces, both in 1907.

Because their respective family’s needs required each of them to seek employment at an early age, neither of them completed high school.

Raymond (Reymundo, the Spanish spelling), or “Mundo”, as he was called by his friends, managed to get odd jobs during the early years of the couple’s marriage, working at times at the Las Cruces Coca Cola bottling plant, the railway express at the train depot, and at Barker Farms, loading chile and other vegetables and fruit for transportation.

He eventually found employment as a salesclerk at the local J. C. Penny, or Penny’s, department store, where he knew everybody in town and everybody knew him.

During World War II, Raymond, being classified IA, was subject to the military draft, even though he had not only a wife but 5 young children.

Despite such circumstances, the local selective service board selected him for the military draft.

He was drafted for service in the United States Army, where he served honorably for several years.

In 1947, the couple opened a small neighborhood grocery store, which Elisa operated during the day and Raymond took over in the evenings and at night, after his work at Penny’s.

The couple closed the store in 1962.

He worked at J. C. Penny for almost 25 years before retiring, after which he and his wife purchased the only Dairy Queen store in the city, which they owned and operated from 1961 to 1985.

Before Raymond's death in 1998, at age 91, and Elisa's death in 2002, at age 95, they had been married for over 70 years.

The presence of Apodaca’s lineage (on his father’s side) in New Mexico, New Spain, a territory that is now part of the United States, goes back more than three centuries to a time before the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 (See Wikipedia).

According to Wikipedia, for more than 100 years beginning in 1540, Pueblo Native Americans of present-day New Mexico were subjected to violent and cruel confrontations and treatments at the hands of the Spanish colonists, ending with many killings and enslavements. Eventually, the Native Americans rebelled against the atrocities. During the period of the revolt, the Native Americans destroyed many Spanish settlements and besieged Santa Fe, the capital. The Spaniards fled New Mexico from Santa Fe southward along the Rio Grande, then to or through El Paso del Norte (the Pass of the North), where some of them settled.

Based on a genealogy study and chart researched and prepared on or about June 20, 2009 by Gilbert R. Apodaca, and his wife, Rose Chavez Apodaca, Apodaca descended from Francisco Gonzales de Apodaca, who was born around 1672 in La Canada de Santa Fe, New Mexico, New Spain.

The study shows that Francisco was married on October 5, 1692, in Ysleta del Sur, Paso del Norte, New Spain, an area which was then known as the villages of Socorro and Ysleta, near present-day El Paso, Texas.

Given those two dates and locations (his birth in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1672 and his marriage in Socorro, Texas in 1692), it is probable that Francisco fled Santa Fe during or immediately after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and settled in the Paso del Norte area among other Spaniards who fled along with him.

Apodaca’s paternal grandfather, Feliz Apodaca, immigrated to Las Cruces, New Mexico, from Socorro in the Paso del Norte area, where he had been born on December 15, 1862.

He was married at St. Genevieve’s Catholic Church in Las Cruces on April 29, 1890, so he moved to New Mexico as a young man sometime between 1862 and 1890.

He died in Las Cruces on October 1, 1912.

Apodaca’s maternal grandmother, Beatriz Alvarez (nee Garcia), was born and raised in the village of Dona Ana, a community located only a few miles north of Las Cruces, before she married Narciso Alvarez and moved to Las Cruces to raise a family.

Apodaca’s paternal grandmother, also named Beatriz, was born and raised in Las Cruces.

Apodaca had two older brothers, Raymond and Jerry, an older sister, Juliette, and a younger sister, Priscilla.

Juliette, born in 1928, for many years was an insurance executive with the New Mexico Farm Bureau in Las Cruces before retiring to raise her four children.

She died in 2003 in Las Cruces.

Raymond, born in 1929, became a banker at a Las Cruces bank, Farmers & Merchants Bank, attaining the position of vice-president.

He later became the President of Cabrillo State Bank in southern California for a few years, before returning to New Mexico, where he worked in real estate until his retirement.

He died in 2006 in Las Cruces.

Jerry, born in 1934, during his early adult life and his marriage, was a football head coach and teacher at an Albuquerque high school.

A few years later, he and his family moved to Las Cruces, where he became an insurance executive for several years.

He later entered politics and was elected and served as a senator in the New Mexico legislature before being elected a few years later in 1974 as Governor of New Mexico for a four-year term.

He presently lives in the state’s capital, Santa Fe.

Priscilla, who still lives in Las Cruces, raised her three sons there.

Raised a Catholic, Apodaca attended Holy Cross School, a parochial school affiliated with St. Genevieve’s Catholic Church, then the only Catholic church in Las Cruces.

He completed his first four years of elementary school there, before transferring to complete his elementary education in the city’s public schools.

He graduated from Las Cruces High School in May 1957, which was then the only high school in the city.

During his high school years, he participated in several extra-curricular activities, such as the school’s chapter of the National Honor Society, the high school band (where he played the alto saxophone and was selected to All-State Band), and competitive sports.

Undergraduate school and law school

Apodaca was inspired by his parents and their strong work ethic to work hard at whatever he chose to do in life.

Such inspirational support helped him to excel in his schooling.

Having obtained a scholastic tuition scholarship upon graduation from high school, he attended the University of New Mexico for the first semester of his freshman year (1957-1958), before transfering his scholarship to New Mexico State University, where he graduated with honors in June 1961, receiving his Bachelor of Science degree with a major in mathematics.

Having participated in the ROTC program at the university, he received his commission as a reserve officer in the United States Army upon receiving his undergraduate degree.

Although his university degree was in mathematics, Apodaca had dreamed of becoming an attorney ever since his high school days, and so he applied for admission to Georgetown University’s law school in Washington, D. C. He was attracted to the nation’s capital because he had early thoughts that someday he would run for public office.

He felt that the capital would offer an important environment to enter politics.

He was accepted for admission to the law school at Georgetown and began his legal education there in the fall of 1961.

He was the only Hispanic in his class of over 160 entering first-year students.

He graduated in the upper 30 percent of his class in June 1964, before returning to his native state of New Mexico to study for the bar examination, which he took in August of that year.

He felt extremely fortunate to have passed the exam and was proudly sworn in as a New Mexico attorney that same month.

Because he had obtained a deferment from active duty in the military to complete his post-graduate studies in law, he still had to fulfill his two-year active duty military commitment.

While awaiting his orders from the U. S. Army to begin that commitment, he returned to Las Cruces to practice law.

He reported for active duty in the military in October 1964.


Apodaca entered military service on October 30, 1964, when he reported for active duty at the Infantry School at Ft.

Benning, Georgia.

While there, he attended the Infantry Basic Course for three months, graduating on January 25, 1965.

Having completed his infantry training, he reported a few days later to the United States Army Security Agency School at Ft.

Devens, Massachusetts, where he successfully completed the USASA Communications and Electronic Security Officer Course, graduating on April 28, 1965.

Having received orders to report to his permanent duty station, he next traveled to Panama, to report to the Headquarters of the United States Army Security Agency Southern Command at Ft.

Clayton, Canal Zone for the remainder of his tour of duty.

One of his many duties as a signal security officer, in addition to providing communications and electronics security support to the numerous Canal Zone military administrations and tactical and field support to the Zone’s infantry units, was to inspect crypto facilities.

These facilities included those located in a military base in Puerto Rico, as well as one located in the United States Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia.

After his tour of duty in the Canal Zone, he was assigned to Ft.

Jackson, South Carolina, where he reported to be relieved from active duty and for assignment to an Army ready reserve group for a number of years to complete his commitment in the United States Army Reserve.

He was relieved from active duty at Ft.

Jackson on October 26, 1966.

He completed his military service as an officer in the Ready Reserve on May 31, 1972, when he was honorably discharged from the United States Army.

Having completed his military active duty, he returned to live in Las Cruces in October 1966, where he began his law practice as a solo practitioner.

It was unusual at that time for an attorney to start his practice alone, without affiliating with an established attorney or law firm.

Apodaca had received offers to establish his practice with a few law firms, but he opted to give it a go on his own.

After all, he felt, Las Cruces was his hometown, where he and his extended family had lived most of his life, so he knew many of the area’s residents.

Although it was a bit rough the first few years of his practice, he was glad he had made the choice to be in practice on his own.

The era of specialization in New Mexico and elsewhere in the United States in the legal field was just establishing itself when Apodaca returned to private practice.

As a result, he entered what was then known as the general practice of law, instead of working in a specialized field, such as commercial law, criminal law, trial practice, personal injury, domestic relations, and other fields of specialized practice.

And so, he began by building up his clientele in most areas of the law.

In the first half of his 22 years in practice, he handled a relative high volume of criminal cases, but as he became better known, he succeeded in building up a clientele in many other areas of the law that provided him and his family security and a good life.

During his early years as an attorney, he applied, and was admitted to practice law before three federal courts, the United States District Court for New Mexico in Albuquerque, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado, and the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D. C.

Even though thoughts of running for public office had occasionally entered his mind since his college years, he realized he was too busy during his early years of law practice to attempt to enter politics as a candidate for any public office.

The state legislature appealed to him.

His brother, Jerry, had attempted to run for the New Mexico Senate against an incumbent and lost the year Apodaca returned to Las Cruces from the military.

But Apodaca knew the day would come when his brother would try again.

And he did.

As it happened, Apodaca finally made his entry into politics in the early 70s but only as a supporter of his brother, helping him get elected to the state senate on his second attempt.

Later, when Jerry decided to run for the office of Governor as a candidate in a Democratic field consisting of six candidates, Apodaca helped his brother first, win the primary in June 1974, and then defeat the Republican candidate in the November general election that year by about 3,500 votes.

He served as Governor for a four-year term, from 1975 to 1978, not permitted by law to serve another term.

Although Apodaca had never aspired to be a judge at any level, the opportunity came for him in 1985-86 to consider a position on the New Mexico Court of Appeals, a state-wide intermediate appellate court that handled all criminal and civil appeals from throughout the state, with the exception of death penalty cases, writs of habeas corpus, and other writs.

An incumbent on the court was retiring and Apodaca’s friends encouraged him to run for the seat soon to become vacant.

As fate would have it, he finally became his own candidate for public office.

Eventually, Apodaca ran against two other candidates in the Democratic primary, but one was later disqualified.

During his campaign, he travelled to and campaigned in every one of the state’s 33 counties.

He defeated his opponent in the primary election in June 1986 by 55% of the vote.

There was no Republican candidate for the office, except for a write-in candidate, and so, virtually unopposed, Apodaca won the general election in November 1986 and took office on January 1, 1987.

During his almost 14-year tenure, he authored 1,127 opinions, specially concurring opinions and dissents.

At a retirement banquet held for Apodaca in June of 2000, his colleagues on the Court honored him by presenting him with a Nambe Ware plate upon which was inscribed the following: “To: Rudy Apodaca--In honor of your contributions to the New Mexico Court of Appeals, where you served with dedication, compassion, and common sense from 1987 to 2000, always reminding us of our role as defenders of the constitutional individual liberties that are essential to a free society.

With gratitude, from your colleagues, June 2000.”

Since his retirement as a judge on the Court, he has on several occasions been appointed by the Chief Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court to preside at various trial courts in New Mexico, as judge pro tempore.

Such appointments assist in handling the court’s caseloads, due to vacancies caused by the retirement or leave of absence of the regular sitting trial judge.

He was also assigned to numerous litigated court cases for settlement facilitation (mediation) and arbitration, as well as designated or assigned to several solo or 3-panel arbitration cases.

He has been appointed as special master on several occasions in various New Mexico state court proceedings.

He was selected for an extended period by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to arbitrate some of the claims against the federal government as a result of the Cerro Grande fires in Los Alamos, New Mexico as one member of a 3-arbitrator panel.

On various occasions, he has been either court appointed or selected by the parties to act as arbitrator/hearing officer in appeals from teacher termination cases involving local school boards and public schools throughout New Mexico.

In addition, he has been under contract with the County of Dona Ana, State of New Mexico, to provide services as an arbitrator in resolving employee grievances or disputes with management.

He was also designated by the County of Dona Ana to preside as hearing officer at probable cause hearings involving forfeiture of motor vehicles operated by drivers with a suspended or revoked driver’s license.

In December of 2007, having been appointed as a hearing officer by the Cabinet Secretary of the Environment Department, State of New Mexico, he presided at a landfill application hearing in Sunland Park, New Mexico.

The hearing, which was the longest solid waste disposal hearing ever in New Mexico, required 15 full days of testimony and documentary evidence, each day consisting of 9 to 12 hours of evidence.

The hearing transcript consisted of almost 6,000 pages and required his submittal of a 314-page report to the Cabinet Secretary with his proposed findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

Those findings and conclusions, as well as his recommended decision to the Secretary, were later upheld on appeal.

During his practice of law in the Austin area, he was appointed to hear and decide arbitration cases by Texas Rural Mediation Services in Lubbock, Texas.

These cases consisted mostly of crop damage insurance claims and disputes involving farmers and various insurance companies.

In the summer of 2014, Apodaca participated as an instructor in a week-long judicial program during a 10-day stay in Accra, Ghana in West Africa.

He was part of a faculty team that included a U. S. federal judge and two Canadian judicial colleagues.

Sponsored by the State Department of the United States, the program involved 38 judges as students, including 12 women, from the countries of Ghana, Liberia, and Nigeria.

The main focus of his teaching presentations was judicial independence, the concept that judges should be kept separate from other branches of government and shouldn’t be subject to influence from private and special interest groups.

He is presently performing mediation and arbitration services in the central Texas area.

Awards and honors

Seth D. Montgomery Distinguished Judicial Service Award, awarded by the State Bar of New Mexico, June 2001; Outstanding Judicial Service Award, awarded by the State Bar of New Mexico, October 2000; New Mexico State University Hiram Hadley Founders’ Award of Excellence, June 2000; 1996 Outstanding Alumnus Award, College of Arts & Sciences, New Mexico State University (awarded at awards presentation on October 26, 1996); Special Recognition Award, New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association (awarded at annual banquet in May 1996; New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association’s Certificate of Recognition for contributions made in public service (awarded at NMHBA’s annual banquet in 1994; National Hispanic Bar Association’s Award and Certificate of Recognition for contributions made to the judiciary (awarded at HNBA’s annual convention held in Albuquerque in 1988); Certificate of Recognition from the Speaker of the House of Representatives of New Mexico, for outstanding contributions to the State of New Mexico—circa 1988; Outstanding Alumnus of College of Arts and Science, New Mexico State University, April 1988 during centennial year celebration; American Southwest Theater Company 1985 award for service to the ASTC Board of Trustees; Commendation award by the New Mexico State University Board of Regents in February 1983 for service and contributions to the university; Service Award for Distinguished Voluntary Leadership in the fight against birth defects from the National Foundation of the March of Dimes—1969; member, Phi Kappa Phi Honorary Society; present member, American Mensa Society; present member, Intertel; NMSU honors: Blue Key Honorary Service Fraternity; Phi Mu Tau Honorary (Vice President); Alpha Psi Omega Honorary; Nu Mu Alpha Honorary.

Other activities

(1) Bar associations and professional societies (past and present): Member, State Bar of Texas; Member, State Bar of New Mexico; Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (TCDLA); Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (ACDLA); Williamson County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (WCCDLA); Williamson County Bar Association; Founding President of American Inn of Court, South-Central New Mexico Charter No.

30250; ABA Appellate Judges Conference; ABA Council of Chief Judges; New Mexico Bar Association; New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association; Hispanic National Bar Association; Dona Ana County Bar Association; PEN Center USA West; PEN New Mexico; Georgetown Club of New Mexico; Georgetown Club of Austin; United States Tennis Association (USTA); Las Cruces Tennis Club; American Bar Association; Association of Trial Lawyers of America; New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association; National Legal Aid and Defender Association; First Judicial District Bar Association; Institute of Judicial Administration; Judicial Fellow of the New Mexico Bar Foundation; American Institute of Banking; Las Cruces Board of Realtors; National Association of Realtors; Realtors Association of New Mexico; Las Cruces Homebuilders Association; National Association of Homebuilders; International Platform Society.

(2) Charitable or communal activities (past and present): New Mexico State University President's Associates; Board of Trustees, American Southwest Theater Company; Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce; New Mexico GI Forum; Director, Las Cruces Community Arts Center Foundation; Museum of New Mexico Foundation; Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges; Greater Las Cruces Industrial Development Board.

(3) Other organizations and associations (past and present) other than bar associations or professional associations or professional societies, including civic, charitable, religious, educational, social and fraternal organizations: Board of Visitors, an advisory board of Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas; Board of Directors, Citizens Bank of Las Cruces; Board of Directors, Amador Bancshares (a bank-holding company); Advisory Board, Mesilla Valley Hospital; Governor's Coordinating Council for Higher Education (1976-78); New Mexico State University Board of Regents (1976-83) (President and Vice President); Advisor to Registrants, Dona Ana County Selective Service Board.

Personal life

Apodaca met his wife, Nancy Mitcham, in the spring of 1965, while serving on active duty in the U. S. Armed Forces.

He persuaded her to move to New Mexico soon after he set up his law practice in Las Cruces.

They married on January 16, 1967, after her move from Arkansas, her native state.

They have four children, three girls and one boy: Cheryl, the oldest, followed by Carla, Cindy, and Rudy, Jr. The couple has eight grandchildren.

For a few years after the couple was married, when introducing Nancy to his friends or acquaintances, Apodaca was often heard explaining that Nancy was “the one good thing” he found while serving his country in the Armed Forces.

They raised their family in Las Cruces, where the children attended public school and graduated from high school.

About the time that Apodaca decided to run for a seat on the New Mexico Court of Appeals, their children were almost leading separate lives.

When he took a seat on the Court, he and Nancy moved to Santa Fe, where they purchased a home and lived for about a year.

At a two-week school for new appellate judges held at New York University about six months after taking office, he learned that the judges on the Pennsylvania Court of Appeals resided and officed in three different cities in the state.

That gave him an idea.

Because the Court in Santa Fe had limited space required for operation of the Court, he persuaded his colleagues to permit him to open a satellite office in Las Cruces, from where he could commute for judges’ meetings and oral arguments held in the numerous appeals the Court handled.

After logistics and funding were worked out, the couple moved back to Las Cruces, where they soon built a new home.

The satellite office proved successful.

As a result, the judges on the Court eventually opened a satellite office in Albuquerque.

That change of location for several of the judges later led to the Court obtaining funding from the New Mexico legislature for the construction of a new building in Albuquerque to house the majority of the judges on the Court.

That building was named in honor of Pamela B. Minzner, a former member of the Court, who was later appointed, then elected as a justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court.

She had died of cancer a few years earlier and the members of the Court unanimously agreed that the Court’s newest building should be a tribute to her as a respected past member of the Court.

The youngest of the couple’s children, Rudy Jr., got interested in drumming while in high school.

It was that interest that caused him to temporarily move in with a friend in Austin in 1989, which at that time was known as the music capital of Texas.

Soon after his move, he succeeded in obtaining employment with a rock band, and so he made Austin his permanent residence.

Eventually, his sisters frequented Austin to visit him.

They soon took a liking to the Austin area, and eventually moved there themselves.

The children had been living there for several years when Apodaca retired from the Court.

They had often suggested to their parents that they should consider selling their home in Las Cruces and move to Austin, to be close to them and the grandchildren.

A little over four years after Apodaca’s retirement, influenced by their grown children, the couple made the move to Austin in September of 2004 and bought a home, where they still live.

Apodaca has always enjoyed participating in sports.

He took a liking to sailing while attending law school in the nation’s capital.

One of his classmates, with whom he became good friends, was a graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy and was an avid sailor.

He taught Apodaca the basics of sailing, and together, in their leisure time, they would often each rent two small sailboats and sail for a couple of hours in the Potomac, the river separating the capital from Virginia.

He continued his interest in sailing after he left D. C., purchasing a sailboat during his one-and-half year stay in the Canal Zone.

He sold the boat upon leaving the Canal Zone but soon bought another one after he and Nancy married, even though sailing spots were rare in New Mexico.

Water and snow skiing soon became a family activity.

Apodaca later took up tennis and became good enough in the sport to join the United States Tennis Association and a local tennis club, where he played in USTA sanctioned tournaments in Las Cruces and El Paso, Texas.

He also often played racquetball when that sport became popular.

He took up playing chess, doing needlepoint and calligraphy for a time, and enjoyed coin collecting and just doing plain-old yard work.

He even took lessons to learn how to play the piano.

Playing the guitar was also an interest he had acquired since his college years.

He took up playing the guitar seriously when he purchased one while stationed in the Canal Zone.

He took guitar lessons from a Cuban citizen, a master guitarist who resided in Panama City only a few short blocks from the apartment Apodaca shared with two other lieutenants.

Under the tutelage of his instructor, he learned to play Mexican ballads and classical music.

Apodaca has continued playing the guitar, and after moving to Austin, purchased a new classical guitar, which he plays when time permits.

Within a few weeks of his and Nancy's arrival in Austin, and within a 15-minute ride from their new home, he happily discovered three marinas on the northeast shores of Lake Travis, which attracted him.

It wasn't long before he purchased a 22-foot Catalina sailing vessel, which he kept docked at one of the marinas.

Once again, he enjoyed the free spirit that sailing provided him and whenever time permitted, he sailed Lake Travis, Austin's one of two lakes, usually alone, for members of the newly established family clan in Texas, Nancy especially, found the sport a bit boring.

They preferred the enjoyment that water skiing and faster motor boats provided.

Eventually, he himself got busy with his writing and legal work and so found less time to enjoy sailing.

Within a couple of years, to avoid the maintenance costs and docking fees, he reluctantly sold the sailboat to continue his other interests.

In recent years, he has rekindled his interest in the piano and bought a Yamaha digital piano.

Being self-taught, he continues to learn new pieces.

When he and Nancy aren't involved in a project or enjoying their time together at home or in activities elsewhere, Apodaca enjoys reading, listening to music, and playing the guitar and the piano.



The following commentaries/essays were published in the daily newspapers noted below or on the website, www.rudyapodaca.com.

They are available for reading at that website.

  1. Death Penalty, in practice, just isn't working out; published in the July 2, 201l issue of the Austin American-Statesman (Copyrighted 2011).
  1. Together, we can all make a difference; published in the September 24, 2011 issue of the Austin American-Statesman (Copyrighted 2011).
  1. A story, an assumption and an opportunity to learn from it; published in the February 25, 2012 issue of the Austin American-Statesman, (Copyrighted 2012).
  1. Partisan elections are not best way to choose judges; published in the January 29, 2015 issue of the Austin American-Statesman, (Copyrighted 2015).
  1. Lessons on law from West Africa; published in the April 13, 2015 issue of the Austin American-Statesman, (Copyrighted 2015).
  1. Thank those great teachers who shaped best part of us; published in the June 4, 2015 issue of the Austin American-Statesman, (Copyrighted 2015).
  1. Bail bond requirements unfair to inmates, costly to taxpayers; published in the October 28, 2015 issue of the Austin American-Statesman, (Copyrighted 2015).
  1. Addressing mental health key in helping Austin's homeless; published in the February 10, 2016 issue of the Austin American-Statesman, (Copyrighted 2016).
  1. Are Hispanics in the U. S. a unified voting bloc?; published in the April 2, 2016 issue of the Austin American-Statesman, (Copyrighted 2016).
  1. We've come a long way in fighting racism-but we still have far to go; published in the May 12, 2016 issue of the Austin American-Statesman. (Copyrighted 2016).
  1. Jury system far from perfect but makes justice system the best; published in the December 8, 2016 issue of the Austin American-Statesman. (Copyrighted 2016).
  1. Trinity site offers visitors a reminder of the horrors of war; published in the December 28, 2016 issue of the Austin American-Statesman. (Copyrighted 2016).
  1. Misconceptions, rhetoric about judiciary help make it a target; published in the May 14, 2017 edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2017).
  1. No help for those spiraling under law; published in the June 18, 2017 edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2017).
  1. Adversarial system flawed way of finding 'truth'; published in the August 1, 2017 edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2017).
  1. As in the past, today's youth getting bum rap; published in the September 10, 2017 edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2017).
  1. The beginning of the end for the United States?; published in the October 15, 2017 edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2017).
  1. The public's complacency may set a new norm; published in the December 3, 2017 edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2017).

19*. Property taxes, bail and drunken driving fees--a triad of unfairness*; published in the January 7, 2018 edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2018).

  1. Let those without immigration origin cast the first stone; published in a shorter version in the April 29, 2018 edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2018).
  1. Unjust civil forfeiture laws turn policing into a for-profit venture; published in the June 3, 2018 edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2018).
  1. Guardians, not warriors: How to get better cops; published in the August 5, 2018 edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2018).
  1. Tired of ’negative’ news? Then, why do we prefer it?; published in the September 23, 2018 edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2018).
  1. How can we trust our judges when they run in partisan elections?; published on October 20, 2018 in the online edition and on October 21, 2018 in the print edition of the Houston Chronicle (Copyrighted 2018).
  1. Almost every state picks judges by some form of merit selection, often with retention elections. So why does Texas still run judges in partisan elections?; published on November 1, 2018 in the online edition of the Houston Chronicle (Copyrighted 2018).
  1. Confused about the difference between state and federal courts? Read this; published on October 20, 2018 in the online edition of the Houston Chronicle (Copyrighted 2018).
  1. Understand Texas courts to choose the best judges on the November ballot; published on October 20, 2018 in the online edition of the Houston Chronicle (Copyrighted 2018).
  1. Do democracy a favor and research Texas judges before voting; published on October 24, 2018 in the online edition of the Houston Chronicle(Copyrighted 2018).
  1. As a nation, we will all pay the price of anger and division; published in a slightly shorter version in the November 3, 2018 online edition and the November 4, 2018 print edition of the San Antonio Express-News and the November 5, 2018 online edition of the Houston Chronicle (Copyrighted 2018).
  1. Reset the legal system? It's not going to happen; published in the January 19, 2019 online editions of the San Antonio Express-News and the Houston Chronicle and the January 20, 2019 print edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2019).
  1. In Texas, Mexican-Americans the 'forgotten dead'; published in the February 23, 2019 online editions of the San Antonio Express-News and the Houston Chronicle and the February 24, 2019 print edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2019).
  1. Sex registry a life sentence for those who pose no risk; published in the April 13, 2019 online editions of the San Antonio Express-News and the Houston Chronicle and the April 14, 2019 print edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2019).
  1. Despite lawyers' pro bono efforts, the justice gap remains; published iin the May 23, 2019 online edition of the San Antonio Express-News, the May 25, 2019 online edition of the Houston Chronicle, and the May 24, 2019 print edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2019).
  1. Disparities abound in sentencing in our judicial system; published in the July 6, 2019 online edition of the San Antonio Express-News, the July 7, 2019 online edition of the Houston Chronicle, and the July 7, 2019 print edition of the San Antonio Express-News (Copyrighted 2019).
  1. The Story of Virgil Hawkins; published at www.rudyapodaca.com on October 5, 2015 (Copyrighted 2015).
  1. Essay on Faith; published at www.rudyapodaca.com on October 5, 2015 (Copyrighted 2015).
  1. The Elusiveness of Happiness; published at www.rudyapodaca.com on October 5, 2015 (Copyrighted 2015).

38*. The Decline of American Politics*; published at www.rudyapodaca.com on October 5, 2015 (Copyrighted 2015).

  1. Reflections on Life and the World Around Us; published at www.rudyapodaca.com on March 28, 2018 (Copyrighted 2018).
  1. Private Prisons―The Concept Isn't Working; published at www.rudyapodaca.com on November 23, 2020 (Copyrighted 2020)

The following essays, speeches, and articles were published where shown below and are available for reading at www.rudyapodaca.com.


  1. Let Us Open Our Eyes; published in the August 28, 2006 issue of the New Mexico Bar Bulletin, Volume 45, No. 35, and in the South Carolina Trial Lawyer Bulletin (Summer 2007 Issue).
  2. On Racism—How Prevalent Is It?; published in the Spring 2001 issue of the New Mexico Bar Journal, Volume 7, No. 1.
  3. Is Our Brush Too Broad?; published in the May/June issue of the New Mexico Bar Journal, Volume 2, No. 3. Published verbatim from an address given at the Annual Dinner, New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association at the Doubletree Hotel, Albuquerque, on May 4, 1996.
  4. The Law and Mental Illness; video presentation for a program produced in 2007 at New Mexico State University to train police officers nationwide in Crisis Intervention Training, under the auspices of the National Sheriffs Association.
  5. Pro Se Litigants--An Ethical Dilemma?; an essay prepared for a webcast presentation entitled Pro Bono/Pro Se Issues: Conflicts for Justice? and produced/broadcast by the State Bar of Texas on June 18, 2009 via the Internet.


Stereotyping—Who’s Eating Whose Crackers?; delivered at the annual Martin Luther King Breakfast, Corbett Center, New Mexico State University, on January 14, 2000.


The Expedited Bench Decision Process; published in the January/February issue of the New Mexico Bar Journal, Volume 1, No. 1.


Apodaca is author of three novels:

The Waxen Image, published in 1977, a mystery-suspense thriller;

Pursuit, published in 2003, a mystery-suspense thriller;

A Rare Thing, published in 2012, a coming-of-age story set in the 1950s and 1960s in the small town of San Carlos in southern New Mexico.

Additional information on these books can be found published online at www.rudyapodaca.com, or at the websites of Amazon or Barnes and Noble.


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