Education and Professional Experience
Merit is licensed to practice law in New Mexico, Hawai'i and Colorado and has also been admitted pro hac vice to represent clients in cases filed in state and federal courts in California, Texas, West Virginia, New Jersey, Utah, Wyoming and Michigan.
Merit graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1969, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Western European Area Studies and proficiency in French, German and Spanish.
Following his sophomore year, he was selected to attend the German Air Force Academy in Neubiberg, Germany, (outside of Munich) as a summer exchange student. Following his junior year, he graduated from the United States Army Airborne (Parachute Training) School in Fort Benning, Georgia, and earned his Airborne Wings after 5 jumps in full battle gear. (His Army and Marine jump mates were training for the Viet Nam War battlefront where many of them would be killed or wounded.)
He served in the Air Force with the Office of Special Investigation (OSI) in Boston, Massachusetts, and in Washington, D.C., and as the Chief Supply Officer for the NORAD Command Center in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Merit earned a Master’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado in 1972. His Master's Thesis was entitled "The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs: The Development of the Role of This Executive Office in the Decision-Making Process and Its Impact on Governmental Operation." For this Thesis, Merit interviewed Clark Clifford, lawyer and political advisor to Presidents Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter, in Washington, D.C. Mr. Clifford's official positions were White House Counsel (1946-1950), Chairman of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board (1963-1968) and Secretary of Defense (1968-1969). Merit also interviewed Dean Rusk at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. Mr. Rusk was the U.S. Secretary of State from 1961 to 1969 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.
Merit earned a Law Degree from the Washington College of Law at the American University in Washington, D.C., in 1975. His Law Review Research Topic was The Entrapment Debate: From Sorrells and Sherman to Russell. He was awarded the Washington College of Law Best of Clinical Program Award at graduation. (He was one of three students to participate in the first Clinical Semester Program initiated by an area law school in the Maryland State's Attorney's Office under the supervision of visionary Law Professor Elliott S. Milstein. (Professor Milstein later became Dean of the Law School.) Merit prosecuted criminal cases under the supervision of an Assistant State's Attorney in Prince George's and Montgomery Counties, Maryland. Merit's participation was full-time (4 days per week), and he handled daily dockets of up to 65 misdemeanor cases.)
While attending law school, Merit volunteered as a Teaching Intern at the American University Learning Center, assisting the Director of the Learning Center, Dr. Charles Ferster, by giving general educational guidance to undergraduate students, as well as providing expertise in specific content areas (especially law and political science).
During the summers between attending law school, Merit worked as a legal assistant for the U.S. Cost of Living Council and for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. At the Cost of Living Council, Merit monitored industry compliance with Council regulations and procedures by interacting with industry representatives and analyzing required industry reports. At the FDA, Merit helped draft the first comprehensive federal regulations requiring that ingredient statements be placed on the labels of processed food products sold within the United States.
Merit's legal career began with Pikes Peak Legal Services in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1975, with a Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (U.S. Department of Justice) federal grant to defend indigent/homeless juveniles who were charged with felony crimes.
He then became a Colorado State Public Defender, defending indigent adults charged with felonies.
Following that service, he entered private practice in the areas of real estate, estate planning and business formation in partnership with Richard L. Tegtmeier. Lance M. Sears later joined the firm as a partner.
In 1983, he moved to Ouray, Colorado, and established his own general practice with Michael Hockersmith, ultimately expanding to Montrose and Delta, Colorado, with the formation of the law firm of Tisdel, Mathis, Reed, Hockersmith & Bennett.
In 1986, Merit moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and established a general practice, emphasizing business law and business litigation. In 1987, Merit served as Special Counsel for litigation for the firm of Mitchell & Alley (John Mitchell and Jim Alley) until he returned to solo practice in 1989 to engage primarily in personal injury law.
He and Stephen Tinkler formed Tinkler & Bennett in 1994 and specialized in civil litigation until 2004, when Merit formed his own firm, now known as The Bennett Law Group.
Merit has handled cases involving personal injury, employment discrimination (race/gender/age/disability), clergy childhood sexual abuse and toxic torts. See Major Cases.
Merit is also admitted to practice before the Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Sacramento, California, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado, and the United States Supreme Court.
Merit has testified in Federal District Court in Denver as an expert witness regarding New Mexico insurance bad faith law.
He has also taught Continuing Legal Education Ethics Courses for the New Mexico State Bar.
Since 2004, Merit has been joined in his practice by his daughter, Talia V. Kosh.
It’s incredibly important that you hire a personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible so we can start working for you to get the most you can out of your injury settlement. The Bennett Law Group specializes in injury claims and lawsuits that include auto injury, personal injury, and wrongful death. Based in Santa Fe, NM, the Bennett Law Group serves clients throughout Santa Fe County and NewMexico.
The legal system uses a lot of jargon that can be confusing for anyone who’s not trained in the field. This makes it even more important that you hire legal counsel in order to assist you in righting a wrong. The Bennett Law Group will work to represent you and ensure that you get the maximum benefit of your claim or lawsuit.