Carlos Vigil was killed in a drive-by shooting just yards away from the Santa Fe County Courthouse, said Audra Montoya, criminal court clerk.
"It was just down the street. You can see it from our doors. They have it all taped off," she said.
Vigil, 52, was heading to state District Judge T. Glenn Ellington's court when shots rang out.
Ellington said Vigil's first scheduled court appearance was for an arraignment for Michelle Blevin, 23. She was charged with murder in the death of her newborn baby, a girl whose body was found floating in a toilet in February. Vigil was her attorney. A second case was sentencing in a driving-while-intoxicated case.
"I'm stunned," said Ellington, who described Vigil as a personal friend. "He was not abrasive or someone who would bring out strong emotions. ... He was a calming, kind individual."
Witnesses saw a mint-green Ford pickup truck with a loud muffler, driven by a man who appeared to be in his 20s, leave the area. "That's what we're looking for," police Sgt. Gilbert C' de Baca said.
Vigil's body was lying on the sidewalk a half block from the courthouse entrance. Police stood around the body, and courthouse workers and attorneys stood in small groups nearby.
"I'm devastated for Carlos, for his widow and for the whole legal community," said Richard Shapiro, a fellow lawyer.
"I don't know if this was somebody who had a grudge against lawyers or whether it was somebody that was out to get Carlos Vigil. It doesn't matter to me. I've lost a friend," said Shapiro, who was in the courthouse when the shooting happened.
In addition to his work as a private attorney, Vigil served part time as an attorney for Rio Arriba County, primarily handling personnel matters, said Tomas Campos, assistant county manager.
Campos said he was meeting with other county officials when he heard that Vigil had been shot. "We couldn't continue our meeting, we were so upset," he said.