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Judicial selection in New Mexico

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Judicial selection in the states
Judicial selection in New Mexico
Seal of New Mexico.png
New Mexico Supreme Court
Method:   Partisan election of judges
Term:   8 years
New Mexico Court of Appeals
Method:   Partisan election of judges
Term:   8 years
New Mexico District Courts
Method:   Partisan election of judges
Term:   6 years
New Mexico Magistrate Court
Method:   Partisan election of judges
New Mexico Probate Courts
Method:   Partisan election of judges

Selection of state court judges in New Mexico occurs through partisan elections. Subsequent terms are acquired in yes-no retention elections wherein sitting judges must receive 57% of the vote to retain their seat.[1]

Under the New Mexico Constitution, judges' terms begin on January 1 following their election or retention.

Supreme Court and Court of Appeals

See also: Partisan election of judges

The 5 justices of the New Mexico Supreme Court and the 10 judges of the New Mexico Court of Appeals are chosen in partisan elections, serving 8-year terms. If a sitting judge wishes to serve additional terms, he or she must compete in an uncontested retention election and receive at least 57% of the vote.[1]

Selection of the chief justice or judge

The chief justice of the supreme court and the chief judge of the court of appeals are both selected by peer vote to serve a two-year term. Traditionally, the supreme court chooses the most senior justice to fill the role.[1]

Qualifications

To serve on either of these courts, a judge must:

  • be the minimum age of 35;
  • have 10 years of legal practice;
  • be a state resident of at least 3 years.[1]

Vacancies

In the event of a midterm vacancy, the governor appoints a replacement from a list of qualified candidates recommended by the judicial nominating commission. The newly appointed judge serves out the remainder of the unexpired term, after which he or she must compete in a contested partisan election.[1]

District Court

See also: Partisan election of judges

The 84 judges of the New Mexico District Courts are selected in partisan elections to six-year terms. Like appellate judges, they must compete in yes-no retention elections if they wish to serve subsequent terms.[1]

Selection of the chief judge

The process of chief judge selection varies by district, as does the chief judge's term length.[1]

Qualifications

To serve on this court, a judge must:

  • be the minimum age of 35;
  • have at least 6 years legal practice;
  • be a state resident for at least 3 years;
  • be a district resident.[1]

Vacancies

The district courts fill midterm vacancies in a manner identical to that of the appellate courts; the governor appoints a replacement from a list of qualified candidates recommended by the judicial nominating commission. The newly appointed judge serves out the remainder of the unexpired term, after which he or she must compete in a contested partisan election.[1]

Limited jurisdiction courts

New Mexico's limited jurisdiction courts (the magistrate courts, municipal courts, probate courts and Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court) vary in their selection processes:[2]

Magistrate Court Municipal Court Probate Court Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court
Selection: Partisan election Partisan election Partisan election Comm. select., Gov. appt.
Term: 4 years[3] 4 years[4] 4 years[5] 4 years[6]
Re-election method: Re-election Re-election Re-election Retention election
Qualifications: Qualified elector of district; high school graduate or equivalent; must be licensed to practice law in state in districts with populations > 200,000 Varies by municipality Not specified State bar member; 3 years in-state law practice

History

Selection methods in New Mexico have undergone several changes since the inception of the judiciary. Below is a timeline noting the various stages, from the most recent to the earliest:

  • 1994: The required affirmative vote percentage for judicial retention elections is raised to 57%.
  • 1988: Through constitutional amendment, the state adopts a hybrid selection system in which vacancies are filled by commission-selection and gubernatorial appointment. Newly appointed judges must compete in an initial partisan election at the next general election if they are to continue serving; subsequent terms are acquired through yes-no retention elections.
  • 1965: The New Mexico Court of Appeals is created, its judges elected by popular vote to eight-year terms.
  • 1952: Governor Mechem creates an ad hoc judicial nominating commission to recommend candidates for judicial vacancies. Every governor thereafter uses a similar brand of voluntary merit selection until the constitution is amended to normalize it in 1988.
  • 1912: Supreme court justices are elected by popular vote to eight-year terms; district court judges are elected to six-year terms.[7]

Selection of federal judges

United States District Court judges, who are selected from each state, go through a different selection process than that of state judges.

The district courts are served by Article III federal judges who are appointed for life, during "good behavior." They are usually first recommended by senators (or members of the House, occasionally). The President of the United States of America nominates judges, who must then be confirmed by the U.S. Senate in accordance with Article III of the United States Constitution.[8]

Step ApprovedA Candidacy Proceeds DefeatedD Candidacy Halts
1. Recommendation made by Congress member to the President President nominates to Senate Judiciary Committee President declines nomination
2. Senate Judiciary Committee interviews candidate Sends candidate to Senate for confirmation Returns candidate to President, who may re-nominate to committee
3. Senate votes on candidate confirmation Candidate becomes federal judge Candidate does not receive judgeship

See also

External links

References

New MexicoUnited States District Court for the District of New MexicoUnited States bankruptcy court, District of New MexicoUnited States Court of Appeals for the Tenth CircuitNew Mexico Supreme CourtNew Mexico Court of AppealsNew Mexico District CourtsNew Mexico Magistrate CourtNew Mexico Municipal CourtsNew Mexico Probate CourtsNew Mexico Problem-Solving CourtsNew Mexico Workers' Compensation Administration CourtBernalillo County Metropolitan CourtNew Mexico countiesNew Mexico judicial newsNew Mexico judicial electionsJudicial selection in New MexicoNewMexicoTemplate.jpg