Lives in: Albuquerque
Occupation: New Mexico Supreme Court Justice
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Creighton University, history; Juris Doctor, Creighton University School of Law
Relevant experience: Appointed to the New Mexico Supreme Court on Jan. 25, 2019 after being recommended by a bi-partisan Judicial Nominating Commission; served as a District Court judge on the Second Judicial District Court and as the presiding civil judge; presided over thousands of cases spanning complex civil litigation, class actions, adult guardianship and conservatorship cases, real estate and contract disputes, election issues, domestic and children’s court cases and appeals; Bernalillo County water and Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District judge; partner in private law firms, with a practice focused on complex litigation and appeals; began legal career as a law clerk for the Judge Joseph Alarid at the New Mexico Court of Appeals.
Have you ever been charged or convicted of a crime, including drunken driving?: No. However, when I was 18 or 19 years old I was cited for being a minor in possession of alcohol. The citation was dismissed.
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy or been involved in a bankruptcy proceeding, either personally or in business?: No
Have you ever been the subject of liens for unpaid taxes?: No
What steps would you take to help the state blunt the coronavirus pandemic and recover from it?: As a member of the Supreme Court I have worked with my colleagues to provide a safe and clean environment for our customers and our employees and have worked to adopt procedures for remote attendance at hearings and for electronic filing of all pleadings, including those filed by self-represented litigants. We also suspended certain rules such as pausing rent-eviction during the stay-at-home orders. As we move forward into the recovery phase I will work toward new, innovative policies and procedures that facilitate timely resolution of all case types so that we can create certainty for the parties and the victims. As the administration of the entire court system in New Mexico, the Supreme Court must continue to monitor what is happening in “real-time” on the ground to ensure safety, health, and that all who appear in the courts are treated fairly. This will be particularly important as rent eviction suspension rules expire and we see an increase in financial-related cases appearing before the courts.
What would you do to reduce crime in New Mexico?: The role of the courts in reducing crime is having conscientious, educated and prepared judges on the bench that can move cases through the system in a timely manner. I will work with the Supreme Court to ensure that our judges are well trained and have the tools they need to handle criminal cases. I will also work to timely issue clear and concise opinions on criminal law to provide guidance to the trial courts, lawyers and the public. The courts can also continue to work closely, and enhance our partnerships, with our nonprofit partners who provide resources to stop the cycle of crime. I hope we can continue to expand the specialty courts that have proven successful in places like the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court.
What are your three top priorities or objectives for the office you’re seeking?: 1. Most New Mexicans cannot afford a lawyer. I am dedicated to expanding programs that help all New Mexicans access the courts, regardless of their financial means. Therefore, It is a priority of mine to encourage lawyers to provide pro bono services and for civil legal service providers to be adequately funded. In particular, we can work as an entire legal system to expand these services in under-represented and rural communities. 2. Continued reform of the Adult Guardianship and Conservatorship system in New Mexico to protect the most vulnerable in our society; 3. Working collaboratively with my fellow justices to timely issue opinions and decisions on cases that come before us to provide clear direction to the trial judges, parties and public.
Who is your political hero or heroine, and why?: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is intelligent, fair, a wonderful writer and like me, believes everyone should have access to legal representation and equal access to the courts. I often in presentations about equal justice refer to Justice Sotomayor’s quote, “We educated, privileged lawyers have a professional and moral duty to represent the underrepresented in our society, to ensure that justice exists for all, both legal and economic justice.”
Lives in: Farmington
Educational background: Bachelor’s degree, Arizona State University; Juris Doctor, Brigham Young University Law School
Occupation: Deputy District Attorney, San Juan County.
Relevant experience: Deputy District Attorney; Acting Cabinet Secretary General Services Department; Litigation Bureau chief; District Court judge; Director, Workers’ Compensation Administration; Administrative law judge; private practice attorney.
Have you ever been charged or convicted of a crime, including drunken driving? No
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy or been involved in a bankruptcy proceeding, either personally or in business? No
Have you ever been the subject of liens for unpaid taxes? No
What steps would you take to help the state blunt the coronavirus pandemic and recover from it? As a judge I cannot pledge, promise or commit to a particular outcome. My job as a judge will be to follow the law including the Constitution and the protection of constitutional rights. While the law allows the restriction of those rights if there is a compelling state interest, it must be done with the least restrictive means.
What would you do to reduce crime in New Mexico? As a judge I will faithfully apply the law ensuring that those accused of crimes have their rights protected. However, once adjudicated guilty a defendant should be held accountable and the focus must turn to the safety of the community. I support rehabilitation so long as the individuals and families in our community are not put at risk. Additionally, we need to review our pre-trial detention rules and compare what New Mexico is doing with what other states and the federal government does and adopt the best practices. Finally, I would work to reduce delays. Our rules should ensure speedy hearings and trials so that defendants and victims can have their day in court in a timely manner.
What are your three top priorities or objectives for the office you’re seeking? Preserve the Constitution (law above politics); ensure the safety of our community; reduce delays.
Who is your political hero or heroine, and why? I have many political heroes which is not to say I agree with everything they did . I am grateful to our founding fathers for establishing a Constitution that controls government and promotes individual liberty. If I had to choose one, I would choose George Washington — he relinquished his power. Judges should be restrained and follow the law regardless of whether they agree with that law. To do otherwise means the people no longer govern themselves but are governed by judges.
Lives in: Santa Fe
Occupation: New Mexico Supreme Court Justice
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Wesleyan (Conn.) University, economics and government; Juris Doctor, University of Denver
Relevant experience: Associate justice, state Supreme Court; District Court judge, First Judicial District; New Mexico Attorney General’s Office; private practice. Currently or have been a member of U.S. Supreme Court Bar, the 10th Circuit Bar, Federal District of New Mexico Bar, and the New Mexico Bar; executive committee member of the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association.
Have you ever been charged or convicted of a crime, including drunken driving?: No
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy or been involved in a bankruptcy proceeding, either personally or in business? I was named once as a possible creditor in a bankruptcy filing.
Have you ever been the subject of liens for unpaid taxes?: No
What steps would you take to help the state blunt the coronavirus pandemic and recover from it?: The Supreme Court not only decides matters of substantive law, but it has supervisory authority over all state courts. To that end, I along with my colleagues have ensured that our court system remains functioning during these difficult times in a way that ensures the safety of the public, litigants and court employees. I have actively worked on and led novel efforts to create and expand ways to have court proceedings remotely through telephone or video connections and other manners that ensure the safety of everyone’s health. I have also worked with my colleagues to amend or suspend rules so that there is fair and equal access to the courts, including suspending the rent eviction proceedings while New Mexicans were under the stay-at-home order. As we move to the re-opening phase, the Supreme Court must be proactive with our “ear to the ground” to administer the court system in a way that safely meets the needs of New Mexicans. We will certainly see our civil judges seeing more financial-related cases than ever, and we’ll need to monitor this for fairness, efficiency, and that everyone is receiving fair treatment.
What would you do to reduce crime in New Mexico?: As a Justice on the New Mexico Supreme Court, I do not enforce the law, I interpret the laws passed by the Legislature and executed by the governor. My job is to ensure that everyone has their constitutional rights protected and that everyone receives their fair day in court. One thing that was important to me was that the courts remain function during the COVID-19 pandemic. Crime does not stop for COVID-19, and the courts have remained open in a safe and practical way to ensure the justice system continues to operate. I have worked with my colleagues to ensure courts have the training and resources to conduct preliminary hearings, dangerousness hearings and adjudication of public health orders. Part of reducing crime long-term is ensuring that quick, fair and efficient court proceedings always occur, with all judges trained properly. Properly funding the court system, prosecutors, public defenders and the entire criminal justice system ensures that judges have all the information before them, in a timely manner, to make the best decisions on criminal defendants. In addition, all the service providers that provide treatment and services are critical parts of the system to try and stop the cycle of crime. They are constructive parts of the criminal justice system to stop the cycle.
What are your three top priorities or objectives?: Thoughtful and thorough analysis of legal issues that come before the Court not based on partisanship but on the facts and reason; equal access to justice; a competent and diverse judiciary that serves its role in our democratic system with distinction
Who is your political hero or heroine, and why?: A judicial leader I admire is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. One has to admire anyone that calls into oral argument from a hospital room as she did in a recent case.
Republican candidate Kerry Morris in Position 2 declined to respond.