AZTEC — One lawyer secured important water rights for the Navajo Nation, another represented the city of Farmington and a large New Mexico utility company and the other one smoked in court and hated insurance companies.

The San Juan County Bar Association's Wall of Honor was unveiled at Aztec District Court on Friday afternoon.

The wall was presented along with an art exhibit that will showcase and sell the work of San Juan County artists for the next two months. There are 62 pieces of artwork hanging near the clerk's office in the courthouse and 56 of the pieces will be sold until the end of July. Proceeds from sales go back to the artists.

Charles Tansey, Jr.
People mingle and examine  art work on display at the Aztec District Courthouse on Friday, May 31, 2013.
People mingle and examine art work on display at the Aztec District Courthouse on Friday, May 31, 2013. (Jon Austria - The Daily Times)
, James Cooney and Wade Beavers were chosen as the first three inductees into the local bar association's honor wall for attorneys.

Each of the now-deceased lawyers came to San Juan County in the late 1940s or 1950s from the Midwest and practiced law in the county for years. They were each instrumental in creating and shaping the local bar association in its early years, said San Juan County Chief District Judge John Dean.

"They were all longtime Farmington people who were dedicated to their profession and active in their community," Dean said. "They came out when Farmington was booming, and they stuck."

Though the three attorneys had their own styles and demeanors and were often pegged against each other in court, they were friends and their children grew up together, said Robert Tansey, the youngest son of Charles Tansey Jr.

"All of the kids of the lawyers of this generation knew each other, played together and ate dinner at each other's houses," he said. "For the bar in this era, if you were at the courthouse and you had your client with you, you had a professional relationship. Outside of that, the bar was quite small, and they all enjoyed each other and were close friends."
  • Charles Tansey, Jr. started practicing law in Farmington in 1948. He was associate general counsel for the Navajo Nation from 1951 to 1954, and he helped secure the tribe the water rights needed to make Navajo Agricultural Products Industry possible. He served in the New Mexico Legislature for one term in 1956 and 1957. He was born in 1915 in Kansas City, Kan., and died in 2007.
  • James Cooney was Farmington's part-time city attorney from 1956 to 1962. He also had a private practice firm on the 100 block of Orchard Avenue in downtown Farmington. In 1960, he became the counsel for Public Service Company of New Mexico and later became the business' lobbyist. He was born in Chicago in 1908 and died in 1979.
  • Wade Beavers moved to New Mexico in 1956. "He was a very passionate about representing the little folks who had a righteous cause," Farmington attorney Victor Titus said. Those who knew him said he hated insurance companies and frequently fought them in court. After a 25-year legal career, he died of lung cancer in 1982. Beavers was the last attorney who was allowed to smoke in a San Juan County courtroom. He was born in 1923 in Missouri and died in 1982.

 

Dave Beavers reveals a portrait of his father, Wade Beavers during a ceremony at the Aztec District Courthouse on Friday, May 31, 2013.  Wade Beavers,
Dave Beavers reveals a portrait of his father, Wade Beavers during a ceremony at the Aztec District Courthouse on Friday, May 31, 2013. Wade Beavers, James B. Cooney and Charles M. Tansey were honored at the San Juan County District Courthouse, Friday with portraits adorning the halls of the courthouse. (Jon Austria - The Daily Times)

Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and rboetel@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel