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In Memoriam: Turner W. Branch, 1938-2016

Remembering the life and service of an AAJ Stalwart

August 11,2016

AAJ remembers the life and service of Turner W. Branch, an AAJ member for more than 40 years, who died August 4, following a lengthy illness.

Turner celebrated his 50th year in practice as a plaintiff trial lawyer last November. He is remembered for, among other efforts, his work saving New Mexico from tort reform when he was a legislator. As a member of AAJ Turner was active in Leaders Forum, was a President’s Club Member and PAC contributor, and was a speaker for AAJ CLE programs. He also served as a trustee on AAJ’s National College of Advocacy.

Turner was born on August 22, 1938, in Houston, Texas. He graduated in 1960 with a B.A. in Political Science from the University of New Mexico where he was student body president and a member of Phi Sigma Alpha, the Political Science Honors Society.

Prior to law school, Turner served for three and a half years in the U.S. Marine Corps, commissioned as a second lieutenant. Following his military service, he attended Baylor Law School, where he was a section editor of the Law Review. He received the T.R. McDonald Award as the outstanding student at the law school and graduated in 1965.

He returned to Albuquerque after graduation and eventually founded the Branch Law Firm, now one of the oldest personal injury firms in New Mexico. Throughout his career, Turner took on challenging and controversial cases involving personal injury, wrongful death, products liability, as well as catastrophic class actions and mass torts against pharmaceutical companies on a national and international basis. Turner also helped shape New Mexico law when, in 1976, he was lead counsel in the landmark decision of Hicks v. The State of New Mexico, which for the first time allowed injured individuals to recover damages for the state’s wrongful conduct.

Turner was known for his open mind and heart; his generosity to family, friends, and strangers; and for the way he defined success. He was known for saying, “I think success is being able to know you’ve given it your very best and looking in a rearview mirror of life and saying I did my best.”

AAJ extends its sincere condolences to Turner’s wife and law partner, Margaret Moses Branch; son Brian Branch and his wife Dawn Chavez Branch; daughter Rebecca Branch and her husband Clyde DeMersseman; and grandchildren Nicholas, Samuel, Victoria, and Branch.