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Civil Court Judges
The civil division has ten (10) judges who handle a broad array of cases from debtor/creditor matters to complex commercial, products liability and professional malpractice claims.
Contract claims, employment disputes, personal injury claims, disputes over money and property, and appeals from decisions by state, county or local government boards and agencies make up just a part of civil decision caseload. If a case does not involve a jail sentence or the dissolution of a marriage, there’s a good chance it will be litigated in the court’s civil division.
Biography: Judge Barela-Shepherd has been a District Court Judge since December 2003. She has the unique experience in presiding over both criminal and civil law cases. She currently presides over civil law cases. She previously presided over all phases of criminal law cases ranging from misdemeanor to 1st-Degree felony offenses.
Judge Barela-Shepherd has served as the Chairman of the District Court Security Committee since 2005, which develops and oversees security issues and concerns involving the Court. She was previously appointed by the NM Supreme Court to serve as a member of the Statewide Court Security Committee. Judge Barela-Shepherd is a long-time standing member of the Bench Bar Media Committee, which serves as a liason between the Judiciary and the Media.
Judge Barela-Shepherd is a native New Mexican. She received her high school diploma from Valley High School, her Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from Texas Tech University, and her Juris Doctor from the University of New Mexico.
Biography: Judge Benjamin Chavez graduated form the University of New Mexico of Law in 1996 and served as a Judge of the Metropolitan Court from 2004 through 2012. He joined the Second Judicial District Court in 2012 where he served as a member of the Criminal Division through December 2018. He now serves as a member of the Civil Division.
Biography: Judge Lisa Ortega graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 1997 and enjoyed a civil litigation practice for more than twenty years before taking the bench. Her law practice focused on personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout the state including those involving product liability, premises liability, and general negligence.
On March 15, 2019, she was appointed to Division XIII of the Second Judicial District Court by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. Judge Ortega serves in the Civil Division.
Biography: Judge Lopez was first sworn-in as a District Court Judge in December 2014. He has been licensed to practice for over 31 years. In his practice, he was responsible for a wide variety of civil and administrative law cases. He served as a Workers’ Compensation Judge for six (6) years, as a disciplinary board hearing officer, and recently as a DWI hearing officer. Judge Lopez currently seeks to administer justice fairly and promptly in a wide variety of civil cases for the Second Judicial District Court.
Biography: Judge Lujan is proudly from Albuquerque’s South Valley where her family owned and operated a small family-run business. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and her Juris Doctorate from the University of New Mexico School of Law. Judge Lujan was appointed to the civil bench in 2021. Prior to her appointment, she served as a Law Clerk to Justice Edward L. Chávez at the New Mexico Supreme Court, as an Assistant Attorney General in Civil Affairs at the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, and as a Civil Staff Attorney at the Second Judicial District Court.
Biography: Judge O’Connell was appointed to the civil bench in February 2019. She is Co-Chair of the Second Judicial District Court Pro Bono Committee, and is Co-Chair of the New Mexico Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission. Judge O’Connell is committed to facilitating and expanding access to civil legal services to New Mexicans in need across Bernalillo County and the State.
Judge O’Connell graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Law. She was a law clerk for two years for Justice Charles W. Daniels of the New Mexico Supreme Court. Following her clerkship, and until appointed to the bench, she was in private practice as a trial and appellate lawyer. Judge O’Connell is an active supporter of the Second Judicial District Court’s judicial clerkship program, which affords law students the opportunity to serve as a law clerk with Judge O’Connell and to experience working with all divisions of the Court.
Biography: Judge Daniel E. Ramczyk practiced law for twenty years, both in the private and government sectors. He was appointed to the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court in 2003 and handled both criminal and civil dockets. He served on several of the specialty courts and was appointed the first Chairperson of the Metropolitan Court Rules Committee in 2006 and served until 2012.
He resigned from Metropolitan Court when he was appointed to the Second Judicial District Court in February 2019, Criminal Division.
Judge Ramczyk graduated from the UNM School of Law in 1983 and was admitted to the New Mexico State Bar later that year.