News Release

NACDL Past President Barbara E. Bergman to Receive Prestigious University of New Mexico School of Law Distinguished Achievement Award

Washington, DC (Oct. 20, 2017) – Tonight, at the University of New Mexico School of Law, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) Past President Barbara Bergman will be presented with the 2017 Distinguished Achievement Award. The purpose of the Distinguished Achievement Award is to honor the dedicated service of lawyers and others in the legal community to the UNM School of Law, the New Mexico legal community, and the greater community inside and outside of New Mexico. Past awardees include NACDL Past President Nancy Hollander, Senator Tom Udall, and the first female justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court, Mary C. Walters.

The 2000 recipient of NACDL's Robert C. Heeney Award, Bergman served as President of NACDL from 2005-06 and currently serves as national co-chair of NACDL's Amicus Curiae Committee. She also serves as Director of Advocacy and Professor of Law at the University of Arizona and as Emerita Professor of Law at the University of New Mexico. Bergman is renowned both locally and nationwide for her leadership in academia and criminal defense. She received her undergraduate from Bradley University and her J.D. from Stanford Law School.

NACDL President Rick Jones said, "I cannot think of a more appropriate recipient of this award. Throughout her lifelong career as an advocate, educator, and criminal defense lawyer, Barbara has established herself as a champion of justice. Her commitment to her students and her community is a testament to her professionalism and compassion for others."

"Barbara Bergman is the quintessential professional," said NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer. "With her keen intellect, her passion for justice, and her unstinting service to clients and community, she has contributed immeasurably to the honor of the legal profession. UNM School of Law could not have selected a more appropriate honoree to serve as a role model for future generations of lawyers."

Recently, the Barbara Bergman Fund was established to honor her distinguished service to legal education as well as her commitment to the Innocence and Justice Project of New Mexico—the only program in the state that conducts in-depth investigations and coordinates DNA analysis for those who claim to be factually innocent and wrongfully convicted. 

For more information about the October 20, 2017, Distinguished Achievement Awards Dinner, including a list of past recipients, please see the event page of the University of New Mexico School of Law. 

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Ian Nawalinski, NACDL Public Affairs & Communications Assistant, (202) 465-7624 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.