Denise Tessier, a long-time New Mexico journalist who covered state District Court and federal court for the Albuquerque  Journal and court issues as a freelancer for "The New York Times" and "The New Mexico Lawyer" talks about "Spellbinding Drama Within Solemn Walls: New Mexico's County Courthouses" in this audio lecture about her research.  Part of her research was conducted in the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections at Zimmerman Library.

She says in New Mexico's territorial days, when disputes were often settled with a pistol, the territory had to prove to the United States that it was worthy of becoming a state and that its Wild West days of lawlessness were under control.  The most concrete symbol of a county's move toward civilization and lawfulness was the construction of a county courthouse, where those accused of crimes could be brought to justice.  In this talk she explores county courthouses, and some of the dramas that have taken place inside their walls.  Her research was funded by the Office of the State Historian.

Spellbinding Drama Within Solemn Walls

runs: 36:35

Media contact: Karen Wentworth (505) 277-5627; e-mail: