Schwartz was a prominent member of the legal community for decades. He was twice elected Bernalillo County District Attorney.
In 2001, Schwartz was runner-up to Martin Chavez in a bid to become Albuquerque's mayor. Bill Richardson brought him into his administration as his crime czar and then appointed him to the bench in 2008.
Schwartz was considered a colorful character and one who was not without controversy. He was disciplined by the state Supreme Court in 2010 for dating a public defender who had cases in his court.
"None of us are perfect, and sometimes that's what I liked about him," said Chief District Court Judge Ted Baca. "As a judge I thought he was an extraordinary judge."
Schwartz's sudden death comes at a time of postelection transition for the court. Judges Samuel Winder and Brett Loveless were voted out a week ago.
That means there will soon be three new criminal court judges once Schwartz's replacement is appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez.
"His cases will be handled, there will be no unnecessary delays in his cases," Baca said. "None of the cases will fall through the cracks."
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.