Briana H. Zamora, a judge on the New Mexico Court of Appeals, will succeed retired Justice Barbara J. Vigil on the state Supreme Court, the Governor’s Office announced Friday.
As an appellate court judge, Zamora has heard disputed cases from lower courts around the state since 2018.
She also served as a trial court judge for about 10 years, both in Metropolitan and District courts in Albuquerque, where she primarily presided over criminal cases.
Before serving on the bench, she worked in private practice and as an assistant state attorney general and assistant district attorney.
“As the junior justice, I will certainly help wherever I’m needed,” Zamora said in a telephone interview. “I know the courts overall are backlogged and have a lot to do.”
She added: “My passions lie with the criminal justice system. That’s where I spent most of my time as a judge, so I hope to someday continue working to improve our criminal justice system. And I’m particularly passionate about behavioral health initiatives [such as alternatives to incarceration for the mentally ill] and ways we can incorporate them into our criminal justice system.”
Zamora, 47, grew up in Albuquerque and graduated from New Mexico State University before earning a law degree from the University of New Mexico in 2000.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham selected her after interviewing a list of candidates provided by the Judicial Nominating Commission. As a Supreme Court justice, Zamora will earn $153,394 a year, a spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the Courts said.
“Judge Zamora is an experienced jurist of the highest caliber with the kind of incredible work ethic mandatory for those who would serve on our state’s highest court,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “Her judicial experience, particularly on the appellate court, will serve her well in her new role, and New Mexicans can expect her to be a fair, trustworthy, consistent and conscientious servant of the court, the law and the people of our state.”