The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

In tribute: Longtime judge was studious and fair


October 14, 2018

A longtime local district judge and prosecutor died early this month in Austin.

Fred Hensley, a Ninth Judicial District attorney for four years and a district judge from 1976 to 1996, was 81.

“Fred was just a solid guy. He’d do anything for you,” said Clovis’ Richard Rowley, an attorney and lifelong friend.

“He was pretty accommodating to the lawyers. He listened and I think he took everything seriously.

“It always made me a little nervous when I’d have a hearing with him — he tried so hard to be fair, I was afraid he’d end up ruling against me just to be sure he wasn’t doing me any favors.”

Rowley said Hensley also had a great sense of humor.

“I remember we were on a fishing trip, and he kind of set a trap up in our room for some guys who were late coming in,” Rowley said last week.

“We strung fishing line from the beds to the chairs to the tables and then turned out the lights and waited ... They couldn’t figure out what was going on. ... Fred and I always had a great time when we were together.”

Hensley, born in Portales, lived most of his life in eastern New Mexico, moving to Austin in recent years to be close to family.

He began his law career in Santa Fe in 1966, according to information provided by family members. He soon returned to Portales and was elected district attorney in 1972.

“He was very good at giving us advice and making sure we had everything we needed to present a good (criminal) case,” said Caleb Chandler, who was chief of detectives for Clovis Police Department in the early 1970s.

“He was very studious, always prepared in court and a very good advocate for the state. He had an amazing conviction record (as a prosecutor).”

Chandler also had high praise for Hensley the man.

“He had a very high standard of character,” he said. “He was a man of faith. Just about anything you wanted in a friend, that’s what Fred was.”

Funeral services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Oct. 29 at Living Stones Community Nazarene Church in Clovis.


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