Article VI, New Mexico Constitution

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New Mexico Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIIIXIVXVXVIXVIIXVIIIXIXXXXXIXXIIXXIIIXXIV
Article VI of the New Mexico Constitution is entitled


Section 1. [Judicial power vested.]



The judicial power of the state shall be vested in the senate when sitting as a court of impeachment, a supreme court, a court of appeals, district courts; probate courts, magistrate courts and such other courts inferior to the district courts as may be established by law from time to time in any district, county or municipality of the state. (As amended September 28, 1965, and November 8, 1966.)


Sec. 2. [Supreme court; appellate jurisdiction.]



Appeals from a judgment of the district court imposing a sentence of death or life imprisonment shall be taken directly to the supreme court. In all other cases, criminal and civil, the supreme court shall exercise appellate jurisdiction as may be provided by law; provided that an aggrieved party shall have an absolute right to one appeal. (As amended September 28, 1965.)


Sec. 3. [Supreme court; original jurisdiction; supervisory control; extraordinary writs.]



The supreme court shall have original jurisdiction in quo warranto and mandamus against all state officers, boards and commissions, and shall have a superintending control over all inferior courts; it shall also have power to issue writs of mandamus, error, prohibition, habeas corpus, certiorari, injunction and all other writs necessary or proper for the complete exercise of its jurisdiction and to hear and determine the same. Such writs may be issued by direction of the court, or by any justice thereof. Each justice shall have power to issue writs of habeas corpus upon petition by or on behalf of a person held in actual custody, and to make such writs returnable before himself or before the supreme court, or before any of the district courts or any judge thereof.


Sec. 4. [Supreme court; selection of chief justice.]



The supreme court of the state shall consist of at least five justices who shall be chosen as provided in this constitution. One of the justices shall be selected as chief justice as provided by law. (As amended November 8, 1988.)


Sec. 5. [Supreme court; quorum; majority concurring in judgments.]



A majority of the justices of the supreme court shall be necessary to constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, and a majority of the justices must concur in any judgment of the court.


Sec. 6. [Supreme court; absent or disqualified justice.]



When a justice of the supreme court shall be interested in any case, or be absent, or incapacitated, the remaining justices of the court may, in their discretion, call in any district judge of the state to act as a justice of the court.


Sec. 7. [Supreme court; terms, sessions and recesses.]



The supreme court shall hold one term each year, commencing on the second Wednesday in January, and shall be at all times in session at the seat of government; provided, that the court may, from time to time, take such recess as in its judgment may be proper.


Sec. 8. [Supreme court; qualifications of justices.]



No person shall be qualified to hold the office of justice of the supreme court unless that person is at least thirty-five years old and has been in the actual practice of law for at least ten years preceding that person's assumption of office and has resided in this state for at least three years immediately preceding that person's assumption of office. The actual practice of law shall include a lawyer's service upon the bench of any court of this state. The increased qualifications provided by this 1988 amendment shall not apply to justices and judges serving at the time this amendment passes or elected at the general election in 1988. (As amended November 8, 1988.)


Sec. 9. [Supreme court; officers.]



The supreme court may appoint and remove at pleasure its reporter, bailiff, clerk and such other officers and assistants as may be prescribed by law.


Sec. 10. [Supreme court; additional justices.]



After the publication of the census of the United States in the year nineteen hundred and twenty, the legislature shall have power to increase the number of justices of the supreme court to five; provided, however, that no more than two of said justices shall be elected at one time, except to fill a vacancy.


Sec. 11. [Supreme court; salary of justices.]



The justices of the supreme court shall each receive such salary as may hereafter be fixed by law. (As amended September 15, 1953.)


Sec. 12. [Judicial districts; district judges.]



The state shall be divided into judicial districts as may be provided by law. One or more judges shall be chosen for each district as provided in this constitution. (As amended November 8, 1988.)



Sec. 13. [District court; jurisdiction and terms.]



The district court shall have original jurisdiction in all matters and causes not excepted in this constitution, and such jurisdiction of special cases and proceedings as may be conferred by law, and appellate jurisdiction of all cases originating in inferior courts and tribunals in their respective districts, and supervisory control over the same. The district courts, or any judge thereof, shall have power to issue writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, injunction, quo warranto, certiorari, prohibition and all other writs, remedial or otherwise in the exercise of their jurisdiction; provided, that no such writs shall issue directed to judges or courts of equal or superior jurisdiction. The district courts shall also have the power of naturalization in accordance with the laws of the United States. Until otherwise provided by law, at least two terms of the district court shall be held annually in each county, at the county seat.


Sec. 14. [District court; qualifications and residence requirement of judges.]



The qualifications of the district judges shall be the same as those of justices of the supreme court except that district judges shall have been in the actual practice of law for at least six years preceding assumption of office. Each district judge shall reside in the district for which the judge was elected or appointed. The increased qualifications provided by this 1988 amendment shall not apply to district judges serving at the time this amendment passes or elected at the general election in 1988. (As amended November 8, 1988.)


Sec. 15. [District court; judges pro tempore.]



A. Any district judge may hold district court in any county at the request of the judge of such district.



B. Whenever the public business may require, the chief justice of the supreme court shall designate any district judge of the state, or any justice of the supreme court when no district judge may be available within a reasonable time, to hold court in any district, and two or more judges may sit in any district or county separately at the same time.



C. If any district judge is disqualified from hearing any cause or is unable to expeditiously dispose of any cause in the district, the chief justice of the supreme court may designate any retired New Mexico district judge, court of appeals judge or supreme court justice, with said designees' consent, to hear and determine the cause and to act as district judge pro tempore for such cause.



D. If any judge shall be disqualified from hearing any cause in the district, the parties to such cause, or their attorneys of record, may select some member of the bar to hear and determine said cause, and act as judge pro tempore therein. (As amended November 8, 1938 and November 7, 1978.)


Sec. 16. [District court; additional judges; redistricting.]



The legislature may increase the number of district judges in any judicial district, and they shall be elected or appointed as other district judges for that district. At any session after the publication of the census of the United States in the year nineteen hundred and twenty, the legislature may rearrange the districts of the state, increase the number thereof, and make provision for a district judge for any additional district. (As amended November 8, 1988.)


Sec. 17. [District court; judges' compensation.]



The legislature shall provide by law for the compensation of the judges of the district court. (As amended September 15, 1953.)


Sec. 18. [Disqualification of judges or magistrates.]



No justice, judge or magistrate of any court shall, except by consent of all parties, sit in any cause in which either of the parties are related to him by affinity or consanguinity within the degree of first cousin, or in which he was counsel, or in the trial of which he presided in any inferior court, or in which he has an interest. (As amended November 8, 1966.)


Sec. 19. [Ineligibility of justices or judges for nonjudicial offices.]



No justice of the supreme court, judge of the court of appeals, judge of the district court or judge of a metropolitan court, while serving, shall be nominated, appointed or elected to any other office in this state except a judicial office. (As amended November 8, 1988.)



Sec. 20. [Style of writs and processes.]



All writs and processes shall issue, and all prosecution shall be conducted in the name of "The State of New Mexico."


Sec. 21. [Judges as conservators of the peace; preliminary examinations in criminal cases.]



Justices of the supreme court, in the state, and district judges and magistrates, in their respective jurisdictions, shall be conservators of the peace. District judges and other judges or magistrates designated by law may hold preliminary examinations in criminal cases. (As amended November 8, 1966.)


Sec. 22. [County clerk as district and probate court clerk.]



Until otherwise provided by law, a county clerk shall be elected in each county who shall, in the county for which he is elected perform all the duties now performed by the clerks of the district courts and clerks of the probate courts.


Sec. 23. [Probate court.]



A probate court is hereby established for each county, which shall be a court of record, and, until otherwise provided by law, shall have the same jurisdiction as heretofore exercised by the probate courts of New Mexico and shall also have jurisdiction to determine heirship with respect to real property in all proceedings for the administration of decedents' estates. The legislature shall have power from time to time to confer upon the probate court in any county in this state jurisdiction to determine heirship in all probate proceedings, and shall have power also from time to time to confer upon the probate court in any county in this state general civil jurisdiction coextensive with the county; provided, however, that such court shall not have jurisdiction in civil causes in which the matter in controversy shall exceed in value three thousand dollars ($3,000.00) exclusive of interest and cost; nor in any action for malicious prosecution, slander and libel; nor in any action against officers for misconduct in office; nor in any action for the specific performance of contracts for the sale of real estate; nor in any action for the possession of land; nor in any matter wherein the title or boundaries of land may be in dispute or drawn in question, except as title to real property may be affected by the determination of heirship; nor to grant writs of injunction, habeas corpus or extraordinary writs. Jurisdiction may be conferred upon the judges of said court to act as examining and committing magistrates in criminal cases, and upon said courts for the trial of misdemeanors in which the punishment cannot be imprisonment in the penitentiary, or in which the fine cannot be in excess of one thousand dollars ($1,000). A jury for the trial of such cases shall consist of six men. The legislature shall prescribe the qualifications and fix the compensation of probate judges. (As amended September 20, 1949.)


Sec. 24. [District attorneys.]



There shall be a district attorney for each judicial district, who shall be learned in the law, and who shall have been a resident of New Mexico for three years next prior to his election, shall be the law officer of the state and of the counties within his district, shall be elected for a term of four years, and shall perform such duties and receive such salary as may be prescribed by law.



The legislature shall have the power to provide for the election of additional district attorneys in any judicial district and to designate the counties therein for which the district attorneys shall serve; but no district attorney shall be elected for any district of which he is not a resident.



Sec. 25. Repealed.


Sec. 26. [Magistrate court.]



The legislature shall establish a magistrate court to exercise limited original jurisdiction as may be provided by law. The magistrate court shall be composed of such districts and elective magistrates as may be provided by law. Magistrates shall be qualified electors of, and reside in, their respective districts, and the legislature shall prescribe other qualifications. Magistrates shall receive compensation as may be provided by law, which compensation shall not be diminished during their term of office. Metropolitan court judges shall be chosen as provided in this constitution. (As repealed and reenacted November 8, 1966; as amended November 8, 1988.)


Sec. 27. [Appeals from probate courts and other inferior courts.]



Appeals shall be allowed in all cases from the final judgments and decisions of the probate courts and other inferior courts to the district courts, and in all such appeals, trial shall be had de novo unless otherwise provided by law. (As amended November 8, 1966.)



Sec. 28. [Court of appeals; number, qualifications, compensation; quorum; majority concurring in judgment; power of chief justice to select acting justices.]



The court of appeals shall consist of not less than seven judges who shall be chosen as provided in this constitution, whose qualifications shall be the same as those of justices of the supreme court and whose compensation shall be as provided by law. The increased qualifications provided by this 1988 amendment shall not apply to court of appeals judges serving at the time this amendment passes or elected at the general election in 1988.



Three judges of the court of appeals shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, and a majority of those participating must concur in any judgment of the court.



When necessary, the chief justice of the supreme court may designate any justice of the supreme court, or any district judge of the state, to act as a judge of the court of appeals, and the chief justice may designate any judge of the court of appeals to hold court in any district, or to act as a justice of the supreme court. (As added September 28, 1965; as amended November 8, 1988.)


Sec. 29. [Court of appeals; jurisdiction; issuance of writs.]



The court of appeals shall have no original jurisdiction. It may be authorized by law to review directly decisions of administrative agencies of the state, and it may be authorized by rules of the supreme court to issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of its appellate jurisdiction. In all other cases, it shall exercise appellate jurisdiction as may be provided by law. (As added September 28, 1965.)



Sec. 30. [Fees collected by judiciary paid to state treasury.]



All fees collected by the judicial department shall be paid into the state treasury as may be provided by law and no justice, judge or magistrate of any court shall retain any fees as compensation or otherwise. (As added November 8, 1966.)


Sec. 31. [Justices of the peace abolished.]



Justices of the peace shall be abolished not later than five years from the effective date of this amendment and may, within this period, be abolished by law, and magistrate courts vested with appropriate jurisdiction. Until so abolished, justices of the peace shall be continued under existing laws. (As added November 8, 1966.)


Sec. 32. [Judicial standards commission.]



There is created the "judicial standards commission", consisting of two justices or judges, one magistrate and two lawyers selected as may be provided by law to serve for terms of four years, and six citizens, none of whom is a justice, judge or magistrate of any court or licensed to practice law in this state, who shall be appointed by the governor for five-year staggered terms as may be provided by law. If a position on the commission becomes vacant for any reason, the successor shall be selected by the original appointing authority in the same manner as the original appointment was made and shall serve for the remainder of the term vacated. No act of the commission is valid unless concurred in by a majority of its members. The commission shall select one of the members appointed by the governor to serve as chairman.



In accordance with this section, any justice, judge or magistrate of any court may be disciplined or removed for willful misconduct in office, persistent failure or inability to perform a judge's duties, or habitual intemperance, or he may be retired for disability seriously interfering with the performance of his duties that is, or is likely to become, of a permanent character. The commission may, after investigation it deems necessary, order a hearing to be held before it concerning the discipline, removal or retirement of a justice, judge or magistrate, or the commission may appoint three masters who are justices or judges of courts of record to hear and take evidence in the matter and to report their findings to the commission. After hearing or after considering the record and the findings and report of the masters, if the commission finds good cause, it shall recommend to the supreme court the discipline, removal or retirement of the justice, judge or magistrate.



The supreme court shall review the record of the proceedings on the law and facts and may permit the introduction of additional evidence, and it shall order the discipline, removal or retirement as it finds just and proper or wholly reject the recommendation. Upon an order for his retirement, any justice, judge or magistrate participating in a statutory retirement program shall be retired with the same rights as if he had retired pursuant to the retirement program. Upon an order for removal, the justice, judge or magistrate shall thereby be removed from office, and his salary shall cease from the date of the order.



All papers filed with the commission or its masters, and proceedings before the commission or its masters, are confidential. The filing of papers and giving of testimony before the commission or its masters is privileged in any action for defamation, except that the record filed by the commission in the supreme court continues privileged but, upon its filing, loses its confidential character, and a writing which was privileged prior to its filing with the commission or its masters does not lose its privilege by the filing. The commission shall promulgate regulations establishing procedures for hearings under this section. No justice or judge who is a member of the commission or supreme court shall participate in any proceeding involving his own discipline, removal or retirement.



This section is alternative to, and cumulative with, the removal of justices, judges and magistrates by impeachment and the original superintending control of the supreme court. (As added November 7, 1967; as amended November 7, 1978 and November 3, 1998.)


Sec. 33. [Retention or rejection at general election.]



A. Each justice of the supreme court, judge of the court of appeals, district judge or metropolitan court judge shall have been elected to that position in a partisan election prior to being eligible for a nonpartisan retention election. Thereafter, each such justice or judge shall be subject to retention or rejection on a nonpartisan ballot. Retention of the judicial office shall require at least fifty-seven percent of the vote cast on the question of retention or rejection.



B. Each justice of the supreme court or judge of the court of appeals shall be subject to retention or rejection in like manner at the general election every eighth year.



C. Each district judge shall be subject to retention or rejection in like manner at the general election every sixth year.



D. Each metropolitan court judge shall be subject to retention or rejection in like manner at the general election every fourth year.



E. Every justice of the supreme court, judge of the court of appeals, district judge or metropolitan court judge holding office on January 1 next following the date of the election at which this amendment is adopted shall be deemed to have fulfilled the requirements of Subsection A of this section and the justice or judge shall be eligible for retention or rejection by the electorate at the general election next preceding the end of the term of which the justice or judge was last elected prior to the adoption of this amendment. (As added November 8, 1988, and as amended November 8, 1994.)


Sec. 34. [Vacancies in office; date for filing declaration of candidacy.]



The office of any justice or judge subject to the provisions of Section 33 of Article 6 of this constitution becomes vacant on January 1 immediately following the general election at which the justice or judge is rejected by more than forty-three percent of those voting on the question of his retention or rejection or on January 1 immediately following the date he fails to file a declaration of candidacy for the retention of his office in the general election at which the justice or judge would be subject to retention or rejection by the electorate. Otherwise, the office becomes vacant upon the date of the death, resignation or removal by impeachment of the justice or judge. The date for filing a declaration of candidacy for retention of office shall be the same as that for filing a declaration of candidacy in a primary election. (As added November 8, 1988, and as amended November 8, 1994.)


Sec. 35. [Appellate judges nominating commission.]



There is created the "appellate judges nominating commission", consisting of: the chief justice of the supreme court or the chief justice's designee from the supreme court; two judges of the court of appeals appointed by the chief judge of the court of appeals; the governor, the speaker of the house of representatives and the president pro tempore of the senate shall each appoint two persons, one of whom shall be an attorney licensed to practice law in this state and the other who shall be a citizen who is not licensed to practice law in any state; the dean of the university of New Mexico school of law, who shall serve as chairman of the commission and shall vote only in the event of a tie vote; four members of the state bar of New Mexico, representing civil and criminal prosecution and defense, appointed by the president of the state bar and the judges on this committee. The appointments shall be made in such manner that each of the two largest major political parties, as defined by the Election Code, shall be equally represented on the commission. If necessary, the president of the state bar and the judges on this committee shall make the minimum number of additional appointments of members of the state bar as is necessary to make each of the two largest major political parties be equally represented on the commission. These additional members of the state bar shall be appointed such that the diverse interests of the state bar are represented. The dean of the university of New Mexico school of law shall be the final arbiter of whether such diverse interests are represented. Members of the commission shall be appointed for terms as may be provided by law. If a position on the commission becomes vacant for any reason, the successor shall be selected by the original appointing authority in the same manner as the original appointment was made and shall serve for the remainder of the term vacated.



The commission shall actively solicit, accept and evaluate applications from qualified lawyers for the position of justice of the supreme court or judge of the court of appeals and may require an applicant to submit any information it deems relevant to the consideration of his application.



Upon the occurrence of an actual vacancy in the office of justice of the supreme court or judge of the court of appeals, the commission shall meet within thirty days and within that period submit to the governor the names of persons qualified for the judicial office and recommended for appointment to that office by a majority of the commission.



Immediately after receiving the commission nominations, the governor may make one request of the commission for submission of additional names, and the commission shall promptly submit such additional names if a majority of the commission finds that additional persons would be qualified and recommends those persons for appointment to the judicial office. The governor shall fill a vacancy or appoint a successor to fill an impending vacancy in the office of justice of the supreme court or judge of the court of appeals within thirty days after receiving final nominations from the commission by appointing one of the persons nominated by the commission for appointment to that office. If the governor fails to make the appointment within that period or from those nominations, the appointment shall be made from those nominations by the chief justice or the acting chief justice of the supreme court. Any person appointed shall serve until the next general election. That person's successor shall be chosen at such election and shall hold the office until the expiration of the original term. (As added November 8, 1988.)

Sec. 36. [District court judges nominating committee.]



There is created the "district court judges nominating committee" for each judicial district. Each and every provision of Section 35 of Article 6 of this constitution shall apply to the "district judges nominating committee" except that: the chief judge of the district court of that judicial district or the chief judge's designee from that district court shall sit on the committee; there shall be only one appointment from the court of appeals; and the citizen members and state bar members shall be persons who reside in that judicial district. (As added November 8, 1988.)



Sec. 37. [Metropolitan court judges nominating committee.]



There is created the "metropolitan court judges nominating committee" for each metropolitan court. Each and every provision of Section 35 of Article 6 of this constitution shall apply to the metropolitan court judicial nominating committee except that: no judge of the court of appeals shall sit on the committee; the chief judge of the district court of the judicial district in which the metropolitan court is located or the chief judge's designee from that district court shall sit on the committee; the chief judge of that metropolitan court or the chief judge's designee from that metropolitan court shall sit on the committee only in the case of a vacancy in a metropolitan court; and the citizen members and state bar members shall be persons who reside in the judicial district in which that metropolitan court is located. (As added November 8, 1988.)



Sec. 38. [Chief judge of district and metropolitan court districts.]



Each judicial district and metropolitan court district shall have a chief judge who shall have the administrative responsibility for that judicial district or metropolitan court district. Each chief judge shall be selected by a majority of the district judges or, in the case of the metropolitan court, by a majority of the metropolitan court judges in that judicial district or metropolitan court district. In the event of a tie, the senior judge shall be the chief judge. (As added November 8, 1988.)

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