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State of New Mexico

Methods of Judicial Selection: New Mexico

Judicial Nominating Commissions

There are fifteen judicial nominating commissions that screen applicants for vacancies on New Mexico courts and recommend qualified candidates to the governor: the appellate judges nominating commission for the supreme court and court of appeals; a district court judges nominating committee for each of the state's thirteen judicial districts; and a metropolitan court judges nominating committee for the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court. For each judicial vacancy, the appropriate commission submits a list of at least two nominees. The governor may make one request for the submission of additional names. If a majority of the commission finds that there are other qualified candidates, the commission recommends those candidates. The governor must appoint one of the commission's nominees.

The appellate judges nominating commission consists of fourteen members: the chief justice or the chief justice's designee; two court of appeals judges appointed by the chief judge of the court of appeals; one lawyer and one nonlawyer appointed by the governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, and the president pro tempore of the senate; the dean of the University of New Mexico law school, who serves as chair; and four lawyers appointed jointly by the president of the state bar and the judge members of the commission.

The composition of each district court judges nominating committee is identical to that of the appellate judges nominating commission, except that the chief judge (or a designee) of the district in which the vacancy exists serves in place of one of the court of appeals judges. On the metropolitan court judges nominating committee, the three judge members are the chief justice (or a designee), the chief judge (or a designee) of the district in which the vacancy exists, and the chief judge (or a designee) of the metropolitan court. Lawyer and nonlawyer members of these committees must reside in the judicial district.

Appointments to the judicial nominating commissions are to be made so that the state's two largest political parties are equally represented. The state bar president and the judge members may make additional appointments as necessary to fulfill this requirement. There are no established term lengths for commission members; the appointing authorities are asked each time a judicial vacancy occurs whether the members of the relevant commission should be retained or replaced. 

Click here to view the rules governing judicial nominating commissions.  The statutes governing the nominating commissions can be found in the Constitution of the State of New Mexico, Article VI, Sections 35-37, available here.

For more information, see Judicial Merit Selection: Current Status.

Nominating Commission Costs

  • $6000 per commission (2007)