N.M.’s chief deputy defender accused of misconduct resigning

July 14, 2018

Chief Deputy Defender Chandler Blair, second in command of the statewide Offices of the Public Defender, is stepping down.

Bennett Baur, the state’s chief public defender, confirmed Friday that Blair — accused of sexual misconduct last year by two female attorneys in the 9th Judicial District in southeastern New Mexico — sent a letter “sometime last week” notifying the agency that he was leaving to go into private practice.

Baur said he didn’t have Blair’s letter at hand when he spoke with The New Mexican on Friday, but said he thought Blair’s resignation was effective “sometime before the end of the month.”

He has not yet selected anyone to fill the chief deputy defender’s position, Baur said.

Blair did not respond to a message seeking comment Friday afternoon.

Jocelyn Garrison, who had worked with Blair in Public Defender’s Office in Clovis, accused him of coming up behind her in her office and choking her, grabbing her genitals and whispering vulgar comments in her ear.

An assistant district attorney in the 9th Judicial District, who spoke to the newspaper in February on the condition of anonymity, said Blair had made unprofessional comments to her and had inappropriately rubbed his body against hers in open court on two separate occasions.

Blair denied the women’s claims, and the New Mexico Disciplinary Board declined to take action on complaints filed by the women’s supervisors.

But Garrison said she later filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

And the prosecutor has asked the state Supreme Court to review the Disciplinary Board’s decision on her complaint, according to her boss, District Attorney Andrea Reeb.

Garrison could not be reached for comment on what became of her EEOC complaint.

Reeb said Friday that she called the Supreme Court a month or so ago seeking information on her employee’s appeal but had not heard back.

Baur said he could not comment on whether Blair had faced any internal discipline related to the complaints because it was “a personnel issue.”

Update hourly