Skip to main content

Rudy S. Apodaca papers

Identifier: Ms-0443

Scope and Content

The Rudy S. Apodaca Papers detail the life of a well-known southern New Mexico attorney, author, and businessman. The Apodaca family was active in Las Cruces politics and business affairs throughout the 1960s, and rose to prominence within the state of New Mexico in 1974 after Rudy Apodaca's brother Jerry was elected as Governor.

The collection includes book manuscripts, manuscript correspondence, legal case files and correspondence, newspaper clippings, and other printed material that outlines Rudy Apodaca's professional career. The Apodaca Papers are classified into sixteen series. These are Manuscripts, Book Correspondence, Academics, Case Files, Clippings, Correspondence, Court of Appeals, Extracurricular, Financial Records, General Legal, Notes, Personal Papers, Printed Materials, Supreme Court, Oversize, and Photographs.

Book Manuscripts, the bulk of the collection, are classified according to the title of the book, its chapter, and the draft edition number. In some drafts, the author has crossed out the typed chapter and reinserted a different chapter number in its place during the editing process. Researchers should be aware that the numbers listed will change between different draft editions. This single series contains the largest amount of material in the Apodaca papers.

Book Correspondence consists of inquiries to publishers and letters to solicit reviews on manuscripts and published material. Correspondents include Rudolfo Anaya, John Ehrlichman, Desi Arnaz, Jerry Apodaca, Leon Metz, Hugh Milton II, and Gerald Thomas.

The Academic series contains notes from Mr. Apodaca's university studies, including classes taken at New Mexico State University (1957-1961) and the Georgetown University School of Law (1961-1964). Other material pertains to Mr. Apodaca's legal career. The first of these are Legal Case Files. This includes material from Mr. Apodaca's career as a private attorney in Las Cruces, and includes material from his tenure as the town attorney for the village of Mesilla. It contains material covering the years 1966-1979. Following legal conventions, it is arranged alphabetically by case name, and omits any reference to the year of trial. Other legal related series include Clippings and Correspondence. Correspondents in these series include prominent state and national figures, including Jerry Apodaca, Jim Baca, Jeff Bingaman, David F. Cargo, Jimmy Carter, John E. Conway, Jack Daniels, Ray Powell, and Pete Domenici.

Besides the Book Manuscript series, the largest amount of material contained within the Rudy S. Apodaca Papers pertains to Mr. Apodaca's term as a Judge on the New Mexico Court of Appeals (1987-2001). As with legal Case Files, the Court of Appeals series is arranged by case name in alphabetical order. Smaller quantities of material that follow are divided into Extracurricular, Financial Records, General Legal (papers not pertaining to Case Files or Court of Appeals), Notes, Personal Papers, and Printed Materials. The final set of papers contain three series: Supreme Court, Oversize Materials, and Photographs. Supreme Court files pertain to specific cases and are arranged alphabetically by name. The Oversize series contains Awards that Apodaca garnered during his term as an Appellate Judge in the late 1980s and 1990s. Photographs are arranged by subject; not all images have captions. Most were arranged according to their original order.

Restricted Materials

One box of correspondence from the New Mexico State University Board of Regents is closed at the donor's request.


  • 1957 - 2012

Access and Use Restrictions

This material may be examined by researchers under supervised conditions in the Search Room.

Restricted Materials: One box of correspondence from the New Mexico State University Board of Regents is closed at the donor's request.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with copyright and other applicable statutes.

Copyrights associated with this collection have not been transferred and assigned to New Mexico State University.


Rudy S. Apodaca was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico on August 8, 1939. He graduated from Las Cruces High School in 1957. Mr. Apodaca then graduated from New Mexico State University in 1961, with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in Mathematics. He entered Georgetown University School of Law in Washington, D.C., where he earned his J.D. degree in 1964.

Mr. Apodaca served in the U.S. Army for two years, and later entered into private law practice in Las Cruces after his passage of the New Mexico Bar. After working several years in private practice, Mr. Apodaca served as the attorney for the Town of Mesilla. In one important case that brought the original Mesilla Land Grant into dispute in the 1970s. Mr. Apodaca successfully argued to maintain the status of the Mesilla Plaza as Mexican settlers had originally intended by arguing that plaza property was implied to be part of any land grant under guidelines set forth in Spanish Colonial times.

Apodaca was appointed to the NMSU Board of Regents in 1975, serving as President during the administration of University President Gerald W. Thomas. After his second term on the Regents board in 1983, he focused his energies on local business enterprises, including a real estate concern and as a franchisee for Dairy Queen Restaurants in Las Cruces. He also served on the Board of Directors for Citizens Bank, which is based in Las Cruces.

Mr. Apodaca then ran successfully for a position on the New Mexico Court of Appeals in 1986, and took office in 1987. He was retained on the Appellate Court for 16 years. His name was frequently mentioned among potential appointees for a Federal Judge position that became vacant in 1994, yet he was not selected for this position. Mr. Apodaca retired from the bench in 2001.

In addition to his career as a lawyer and judge, Mr. Apodaca has written several novels, including The Waxen Image (1977) and Pursuit (2003). His fiction work has been reviewed favorably, as it draws upon personal experience in the legal profession in the Southwestern United States. Book manuscripts from these works are included among his professional papers.

Mr. Apodaca lives in Las Cruces, with his wife Nancy. They have four children.


28.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Las Cruces-based attorney, New Mexico Court of Appeals judge, author, businessman, and former member of the New Mexico State University Board of Regents.
Guide to the Rudy S. Apodaca papers
Processed by Bill Boehm, with Cecelia Carrasco, Maribel Tellez, and Tiffany Fuller, October 2003.
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Repository Details

Part of the New Mexico State University Library Archives and Special Collections Repository

Branson Hall
PO Box 30006
MSC 3475
Las Cruces New Mexico 88003 USA