Hon. Ralph D. Shamas


In 2005, Judge Shamas was appointed by Governor Bill Richardson to fill the vacant seat in Division VI for the Fifth Judicial District, representing Chaves, Eddy and Lea counties for the state of New Mexico. In 2006, he was elected to this position, and served until his death.


Judge Shamas grew up in Roswell and attended St. Peter Catholic School to the 5th grade, Mesa Middle School, North Junior High, Roswell High School, and was a member of the first graduating class of Goddard High School in 1966. He received his undergraduate degree at UNM in 1970, where he was a member of SAE fraternity. In May 1973, he received his Juris Doctorate Cum Laude from the University of Iowa, and served on and was published in the Law Review.

Work history:

Judge Shamas began his 32year legal career with Atwood, Malone, Turner and Sabin in 1973 1977, where he was made partner. In 1977 1979, he was a partner in the Hunt and Shamas Law Firm, the only plaintiffs firm in Roswell at that time, where he was the first lawyer in Chaves County in 25 years to win a punitive damages award from a jury. In 1979, he opened his solo practice as a plaintiffs and criminal defense lawyer. At that time, he was the first lawyer in the state of New Mexico to receive a milliondollar verdict for a wrongful death. This case was tried with current Judge Charles Currier. In 1985 1991, he began a partnership with K. Douglas Perrin and Phil Brewer. 
Judge Shamas then took a sabbatical from practicing law for 1 12 years to train and race his beloved racehorses at Ruidoso Downs, Sunland Park, Albuquerque Downs, Turf Paradise, Santa Anita, Los Alimatos, Golden Gate, Raton and Santa Fe. He also trained for his close friends and their families, Paul Taylor Jr. and Paul Taylor III, becoming a leading trainer in New Mexico.
In Judge Shamas earlier years of practice, he represented four capital murder cases, receiving not guilty verdicts. In the 1990s, while in private practice, he was the lead attorney for Clay vs. Ferrell Gas Co., which was decided in his favor in the United States Supreme Court. 

Do you have additional information or corrections for this judge?

Let us know!

Small firm and Pro users see detailed information on verdicts and rulings here.

News and Links

There are no links for this judge.

Appointment History

Fifth Judicial District Court 01/01/05 - 01/17/13

Judge Shamas served until his death on 1/17/2013.