Gov. Susana Martinez has named a former judge and prosecutor from Las Cruces to a commission that will oversee an independent Public Defender Department.
The governor appointed Susan Riedel to the 11-member commission that also will hire — and can fire — the chief public defender.
Riedel was a prosecutor in the 3rd Judicial District when Martinez served as district attorney. The governor named Riedel to a state district court judgeship in 2011, but she lost in last year's general election and retired from state government.
Voters approved a constitutional amendment last year to make the department independent rather than having it under the control of a gubernatorial appointee.
Public defenders represent criminal defendants who can't afford a lawyer.
The commission must select a chief public defender by Oct. 15.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.