Judge Fred Hensley, 70, worked for 35 years in the local judicial system, spending the last decade as officer of the Curry/Roosevelt Domestic Violence Office.
He is retiring June 29.
Hensley talked with the CNJ about his experiences.
The early years: I was planning to be a rancher. I was attending Oklahoma State University, studying animal husbandry and I thought, “This is crazy and I don’t have the slightest idea or want to do this.”
On my way home from school on break, I was in a head-on collision with a drunken driver. (My passenger) died and I was sent to Roswell for my injuries. It was a defining moment in my life. God didn’t like the way my life was going and God had the plans. After I recovered, I went to Chicago and went to law school.
On domestic violence court: I enjoy talking to people and working with people without lawyers. I don’t usually wear a judge’s robe because I like to come down off the bench and sit with them and talk to them about what they want.
On changes in dealing with the domestic violence over the years: Some of the changes are good. If a man has a domestic violence order against him, he cannot buy a gun until the order expires. Information about the domestic violence order is entered into the National Crime Information Center database and can be accessed from all over the nation. That’s good; we never had that before.
On women as victims of domestic violence: If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times. God would not have sent women to be helpmates to men if they were of lesser intelligence.
I see women that have just put up with so much day after day.
On men as domestic violence victims: It doesn’t happen very frequently but it happens.
One of the first male victims I had called me and asked how he could get a domestic violence order against a woman he said was abusing him.
I honestly told him I didn’t know if I could help him but I told him to come in and fill out a petition. When he showed up he had slashes all over his face where she had cut him. He made a believer out of me — I signed the order.
On the best part of the job: When I get two people and I take time and figure out what they need and they are both happy, both smiling and they thank me.
On what retirement holds: I am going to work out at the gym as much as I can to look out for my health.
And now I have a good chance to do the laundry and housework. We have a dog that we just love and I’m going to spend time with him.
This story was edited for content and style.
Born in Portales, 1937
Married 42 years to Linda Hensley, real estate agent
Raised three children in Clovis; has eight grandchildren, all under age 7, living in Texas
1964 — Law clerk for the Honorable David Chavez Jr., chief justice, New Mexico Supreme Court
1965 — Special Assistant Attorney General for New Mexico State Engineer’s office
1967 — Private law practice, Clovis and Portales
1972 — District Attorney, 9th Judicial District Attorney’s office
1977 — District Judge, 9th Judicial District Court
1996 — Domestic Violence Hearing Officer, District Judge Pro Tempore
Retirement party: 3:30 p.m.-5 p.m. June 29 in the Main Courtroom, Curry County Courthouse. Hosted by the 9th Judicial District Court, open to the public.
“It’s kind of a bittersweet thing. We’re going to miss him.” — Sherry Hamilton, worked as Hensley’s secretary for 13 years. “(Judicial work is) a serious subject, but we had a lot of fun.”