Kari was born and raised in Albuquerque. She grew up in the courtroom watching her father, Jim Brandenburg, serve with distinction as the Chief Trial Attorney for the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office for eight years and then serve as the District Attorney from 1972 to 1976.
She graduated from Sandia High School, received a bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and completed her law degree at Southern Methodist University.
Following her graduation from law school, Kari worked in the New Mexico Public Defender’s Office, where she acquired extensive trial experience. She then joined her father in private practice, limiting her work to criminal law.
has practiced in Metropolitan Court, Magistrate and District Courts
throughout the state of New Mexico. She has participated in Federal
cases in California, Arizona and before the Tenth Circuit Court of
Appeals in Denver, Colorado.
In January 2001, Kari assumed the office of the Second Judicial District Attorney. She had three primary goals. The first was to raise the morale of the staff and support them in a way that would allow them to achieve their full potential. Secondly, it was critical for the office to be effective in prosecuting offenders who violate the law, and thus increase public safety. Finally, she wanted to operate the office in a manner that would restore the public’s faith in the integrity of the criminal justice system. Those goals represent a journey, rather than a destination, but significant progress has been made.
During her tenure, Kari has developed a number of initiatives, including
the Truancy Prevention Program, the Early Plea Program, Kids Against
Violence Art Project and the "Mether Initiative." Every case the office
prosecutes is important and impacts the community. Meaningful assistance
to victims and their families is a priority as well as maintaining a
trusting and productive working partnership with law enforcement
agencies and the courts. All efforts are aimed at increasing public
safety and the quality of life for Bernalillo County residents.
On a personal note, service has always been important to Kari. As a child she began doing volunteer work and continues to be committed to it today. She was a foster parent to three children before she started her own family in 1984. When her second child died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 1987, she became active with the New Mexico SIDS Affiliate, serving as President for eight years. She continues to do volunteer work today. Kari has four children.