Kari Brandenburg attended Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, receiving her bachelor’s degree in 1976. Following her graduation from Southern Methodist University’s School of Law in 1979, Kari went on to work for the New Mexico Public Defender’s Office, where she honed her skills not only as a trial lawyer, but also as a skillful collaborator and manager of people.
Kari Brandenburg was born and raised in Albuquerque. Her passion for justice began early: She grew up in the courtroom watching her father, Jim Brandenburg, serve with distinction as the Chief Trial Attorney for the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office from 1965 to 1971 and as the District Attorney from 1972 to 1976.
In 1982, Kari joined her father in private practice, specializing in criminal law. She has practiced in New Mexico in Metropolitan Court, Magistrate Courts in the rural areas, District Courts throughout the state and in the Federal District Court in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. She has also had the privilege to participate in Federal cases in California and Arizona and has successfully argued before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado.
Kari’s work as a trial lawyer is of great significance to her, as it represents a willingness to fight personally for the issues she considers important. Throughout her career, Kari has personally tried many high-profile cases, both as a criminal defense attorney and as District Attorney.
Kari is equally at home in the courtroom as in the office, taking a multi-faceted approach to her job. Her priority is addressing her clients’ needs and legal interests–a big part of which is being available to meet with them and discussing their concerns.
In 2000, Kari was the first woman elected to serve as Bernalillo County District Attorney. She was re-elected to four terms, and became the longest serving District Attorney in Bernalillo County. As District Attorney, Kari developed a number of initiatives, attempting to effectively deal with the deep-seated roots of criminal behavior. She worked successfully with government agencies, the New Mexico State Legislature, local Pueblos and other groups.
Teaching and Outreach
From 2004 to 2006, Kari headed the Metropolitan Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, an organization that brought participants in the criminal justice system together to collaborate on relevant issues and work collectively to become more proactive, efficient, and effective.
Annually, Kari taught a course on professionalism at the Second Judicial District Attorney Office. She taught on the same subject at the annual Association of District Attorney’s Fall Conference, which draws attendees from across the state. She has instructed various classes as a guest lecturer at the University of New Mexico School of Law, including a course on ethics and a session on women and the law at UNM’s 2003 Women’s Law Caucus. In 2011, Kari spoke at the New Mexico Bench and Bar Conference.
Kari’s television show, Full Disclosure With The District Attorney, aired on the government channel for more than five years. She saw the program as a valuable tool for educating the public by discussing legal issues and demystifying the criminal justice system.
As part of her commitment to civic awareness, Kari also spends a great deal of her personal time accommodating requests to speak in front of organizations—from community groups like the Rotary Club and Civitan to high-school and middle-school classes. She was co-host on KKOB’s show “The Women’s Room” from 2003 until 2016.
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Awards & Recognition
Kari has been fortunate to receive awards and recognition for her efforts. Some of them are listed below:
- Albuquerque Bar Association Outstanding Attorney of the Year 2010
- The New Mexico Narcotics Officers Association Prosecutor of the Year 2010
- The New Mexico District Attorney’s Association Prosecutor of the Year 2010
- Coordination Honor Award, presented by the United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Community Capacity Development Office, which recognized the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office for ‘exemplary contribution as a partnering agency and member of the Violent Crimes Impact Team in the implementation of the Albuquerque Weed and Seed projects.”
- The United States Department of Justice Certificate of Commendation, for “outstanding performance and invaluable support of law enforcement efforts in the District of New Mexico.”
- Honorary Commander, Kirtland Air Force Base 2003 to 2008
- Special Recognition of Community Service from the Westside-South Valley Weed and Seed Strategy.
- Certificate of Appreciation from the New Mexico Drug Enforcement Advisory Council.
Kari is presently a member of numerous legal associations, including:
- The American Bar Association
- The New Mexico Bar Association
- The New Mexico Trial Lawyer’s Association
- The New Mexico Criminal Defense Attorneys Association
- United States Federal District Court Bar, District of New Mexico
Past Professional Coalitions
Kari has been a member of and participant in a number of professional coalitions, among them:
- The Criminal Justice Collaborative Executive Team
- Albuquerque Family Advocacy Center Advisory Board
- The National District Attorneys Association
- The Association of District Attorneys
- National College of District Attorneys Alumni Association
- Middle Rio Grande Valley Task Force
- New Mexico Gang Task Force
- Financial Institutions Security Officers Association (FIOSA)
- National White Collar Crime Center
- Criminal Justice Collaborative Technical Support Team
- Project Safe Neighborhood
- Weed and Seed
- Albuquerque Retailers Assets Protection Association (ARAPA)
- APD Problem Oriented Policing Partnership (POP)
- Auto Theft Task Force
- APD Public Safety Partnership
- NETWORK to Prevent Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
- Intimate Partner Death Review Team
- Judicial Performance Evaluation Committee
- Children’s Law Section, New Mexico State Bar
- Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative
- Second Judicial District Court Juvenile Drug Court Team
- Sexual Offender Response Team (SORT)
- Metro Court Rules Committee
- New Mexico Pedestrian Death Action Review Team
- Albuquerque Community Collaborative to Reduce Truancy
- Children’s Justice Act Advisory Group (CJAAG)
- Board of Advocacy, Inc.
- Bernalillo County Multi-Disciplinary Team for Child Abuse
- Child Fatality Review Team
- Child Abuse and Neglect Panel
- Supreme Court Criminal Uniform Jury Instructions Committee
- Supreme Court Criminal Rules Committee
- MDT (a multidisciplinary team consisting of law enforcement, CYFD, All Faiths Receiving Home, the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office, and others)
- Juvenile Justice Advisory Council (JJAC)
- New Mexico Sentencing Commission- Juvenile Subcommittee
- A.N.E. Board of Directors
- Legislative Education Study Committee Work Group
- Drug Court
- Judicial Supervision Program (formerly known as Mental Health Court)
- Veterans Court
- New Mexico DNA Identification Oversight Committee
- New Mexico Drug Enforcement Advisory Council (DEAC)
- New Mexico Narcotics Officers’ Association
- New Mexico Sheriffs and Police Association
- New Mexico Crimestoppers
- Construction Industry Crime Alliance
- High Intensity Drug Enforcement Area (HIDTA)
- Albuquerque Fraud Reduction Group
- Community Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice Summit
- Family Advocacy Center Advisory Board
- Various Legislative Memorial Committees
- Mental Health Court
- Courts to School
- Homeless Court
- Teen Court