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District Court Judges Directory

Name: Joshua A. Allison
Division XXIII
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Mary Lovato

Biography: Judge Allison was raised in a small farm community in the middle of Illinois: Lincoln, Illinois, which is said to be the only town named for Abraham Lincoln before he became President of the United States. He worked on a hog farm in the summers, and his family vacationed in northern New Mexico when he was young. It was on those vacations where Judge Allison developed a love for our high desert. He received his bachelor’s degree in History from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois in 1996 and came to New Mexico in 2000.

After graduating from University of New Mexico School of Law, Judge Allison clerked for then-Chief Justice Edward L. Chávez of the New Mexico Supreme Court. Following his clerkship, he worked as a civil litigator for ten years before taking the bench in April of 2019.
Group: Civil Court Judges

Name: Britt M. Baca-Miller
Division XX
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Michelle Gutierrez

Biography: Judge Britt Baca-Miller was born and raised in Albuquerque.  She holds a bachelor’s degree from Eastern New Mexico University, a master’s degree in public administration, and a juris doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law.

She has worked as a public defender in Albuquerque since 2013, representing indigent individuals in cases ranging from DWI to first-degree murder.  She represented clients in dozens of felony jury trials in this role.

She has served on the board of directors of the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association and is a member of the Hispanic National Bar Association and the New Mexico Women’s Bar Association.
Group: Criminal Court Judges

Name: Denise Barela-Shepherd
Division XVIII
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Amy Ballou
Phone: 505-841-7534

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.
Group: Civil Court Judges

Name: Catherine Begaye – Presiding Children’s Court Judge
Division VIII
TCAA: Elisha Cooper
Phone: 505-222-4550

Biography: Judge Catherine Begaye, a member of the Navajo Nation, is New Mexico’s only Native American District Court judge. She is a graduate of UNM Law School, where she was the Editor in Chief of the New Mexico Law Review and a Dean’s Award recipient for being a student who made outstanding contributions to the law school community.

While an attorney, she worked as a Public Defender representing juveniles and adults in District and Appellate courts. When she went into private practice, she found her calling in her work with families in the abuse and neglect arena, and in particular with Native American families and their tribes. She works on many different committees and commissions concerning child welfare, has been called upon to teach in various areas on child welfare and court practice, and believes that authentic collaboration leads to positive change for all our families involved in child welfare.

She is the Chair of the Children’s Code Taskforce, a court member of the statewide JDAI Leadership Team, state court member of the N.M. Tribal-State Judicial Consortium and the NCJFCJ State-Tribal Judges Committee, the Judge for the ICWA Court, a court member of the N.M. Partners, and a champion for crossover youth.

Group: Children’s Court Judges

Name: Beatrice J. Brickhouse
Division IV
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Bobbi Jo Walker

Biography: Judge Brickhouse began practicing law in New Mexico in 1993, after graduating from the University of Arizona Law College. She was appointed to be a State District Court Judge in January 2009. She is assigned to the Civil Division and hears a wide variety of cases, including personal injury, employment, breach of contract, civil rights, probate and guardianship, and business disputes. Prior to becoming a judge, Judge Brickhouse practiced as both a civil and criminal litigator for 16 years in New Mexico.

Judge Brickhouse is a member of the New Mexico State Bar, the Albuquerque Bar Association, and the New Mexico Black Lawyers’ Association. She is also the New Mexico Chair for the National Association of Women Judges, and is on the Board of the New Mexico Board of Bar Examiners. She previously served as the Lincoln County Bar Association President and as a Bar Commissioner for the New Mexico State Bar.

She is married, with two children, and resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Group: Civil Court Judges

Name: Benjamin Chavez
Division XIX
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Jeanneth Nelson
Phone: 505-841-7537
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.
Group: Civil Court Judges
Name: Amber Chavez Baker
Division XXII
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Kimberly Fenstermacher
Phone: 505-841-6778
Biography: Amber Chavez Baker was appointed to the Second Judicial District Family Court bench in March 2019. She was a Domestic Relations Hearing Officer for Family Court from 2015 until her appointment. Before that, Judge Chavez Baker practiced exclusively in family law; representing parents, grandparents and children in Albuquerque and Carlsbad. Judge Chavez Baker is an Albuquerque native, graduating from the University of New Mexico with both her undergraduate and law degrees. She enjoys community outreach activities, in particular as a board member for the Albuquerque Speech and Language Hearing Center.
Group: Family Court Judges
Name: Lisa Chavez Ortega
Division XIII
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Mychele Romero
Phone: 505-841-7494

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.
Group: Civil Court Judges

Name: Bruce Fox
Division X
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Naomi Medina

Biography: Judge Bruce Fox received his B.A. from the University of Connecticut and his J.D. from Western New England University.  He has been licensed to practice law in New Mexico since 1993, and has spent his entire career working in the courts of New Mexico, the Navajo Nation, and the Pueblo of Laguna.

Before being appointed to District Court in 2021, he was Chief Judge for the Pueblo of Laguna.  He was also a New Mexico Public Defender for many years in the Second Judicial District, and spent the early part of his career as a legal aid attorney at DNA Legal Services on the Navajo Nation.

Throughout his career, Judge Fox has worked on developing a better understanding of addiction and behavioral health issues and their impact on the criminal justice system.  He is a strong believer in drug courts and mental health courts.
Group: Criminal Court Judges

Name: Nancy J. Franchini – Presiding Civil Court Judge
Division V
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Thomas Wilson
Biography: Judge Franchini joined the Court in 2014 after 17 years as a civil trial attorney practicing throughout New Mexico. Judge Franchini currently serves on the Board of Governing the Recording of Judicial Proceedings and is also assisting in the development of the Elder Court at the Second Judicial District Court.
Group: Civil Court Judges
Name: Gerard Lavelle
Division XI
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA:  Julio Estrada
Biography: Prior to being appointed to the Family Court bench in January 2009, Judge Lavelle practiced Family Law for 28 years. Judge Lavelle has presented at Continuing Legal Education seminars on Family Law issues locally and nationally. Judge Lavelle has served for many years as a judge at Mock Trials for both high school and middle school students.
Group: Family Court Judges
Name: Cindy Leos
Division IX
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Nicole Jaramillo
Biography: Judge Cindy Leos is from Albuquerque, New Mexico and attended Moriarty High School. She received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado, and earned her Juris Doctorate from Chicago-Kent College of Law in Chicago, Illinois. Her professional experience includes working in private practice, as a Children’s Court attorney for Child Protective Services, and as a Felony Attorney/Supervisor for the New Mexico Office of the Public defender. Judge Leos was elected in the general election on November 8, 2016 to Division IX of the Second Judicial District Court.
Group: Criminal Court Judges
Name: Jane Levy – Presiding Family Court Judge
Division XXV
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Amber Johnson
Biography:  On November 29, 2016, Governor Susana Martinez appointed Jane Levy of Albuquerque to Division XXV of the Second Judicial District Court. Judge Levy has practiced law for more than ten years, with a focus on advocating for New Mexico families. In addition to her legal experience, Judge Levy has spent time volunteering for organizations that help domestic abuse victims and the homeless. Judge Levy holds a Juris Doctorate from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon and a Bachelor’s Degree from Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin.
Group: Family Court Judges
Name: Victor Lopez
Division XXVII
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Theresa Pomerleau
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.
Group: Civil Court Judges
Name: Brett R. Loveless – Presiding Criminal Court Judge
Division III
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Melissa Trujillo
Biography: After practicing law for seventeen years in New Mexico, Judge Loveless joined the Court in 2012 and presides over criminal cases. Judge Loveless is a graduate of the University of New Mexico and the University of New Mexico School of Law. He also presides over cases in the Judicial Supervision/Mental Health Court Program.
Group: Criminal Court Judges
Name: Elaine P. Lujan
Division XII
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Charlene Montoya
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.
Group: Civil Court Judges
Name: Joseph Montano
Division XXVI
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Jeff Gulley

Biography: Judge Joseph Montano is an Albuquerque native, and a 2001 graduate of St. Pius X High School.  He earned a political science degree from California Lutheran University in 2005, and a J.D. from UNM School of Law in 2008.

After law school, Judge Montano worked for the University of Michigan’s Athletic Department as a Compliance Assistant.  He was also the Director of Compliance for UNM’s Athletic Department.  He worked in the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office for the past ten years, most recently serving as the Deputy District Attorney managing the General Crimes Felony Trial Division.
Group: Criminal Court Judges

Name: Clara Moran
Division XXVIII
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA:  Alec Struck

Biography: Judge Moran was appointed to the Criminal Division of the Court in July 2020.  She was born in Albuquerque and moved to Las Cruces with her family in the second grade.  She left New Mexico to attend college in Maryland, and returned to get her law degree at UNM.

She spent her entire career as a prosecutor, most recently serving as Chief Deputy Attorney General overseeing the Criminal Affairs Division of the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office.
Group: Criminal Court Judges

Name: David Murphy
Division XXX
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA:  Andrea Woodward

Phone: 505-841-5486

Biography: Judge David A. Murphy was appointed to the Second Judicial District Court in July 2022. Judge Murphy is from Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he attended the University of New Mexico for his Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor. Prior to joining the bench, he first worked as an Assistant Public Defender and then as a prosecutor for the First & Second Judicial District Attorney’s Offices and the New Mexico Attorney General. Judge Murphy worked as a Metropolitan Court Judge from 2019 until his appointment to the District Court’s Criminal Division in 2022. Judge Murphy works with the Veterans Treatment Court Program and is a member of the Supreme Court’s Equity & Justice Commission.
Group: Criminal Court Judges

Name: Erin B. O’Connell
Division XVII
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Heather Garcia

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.
Group: Civil Court Judges

Name: William Parnall
Division I
TCAA: Julie Parras
Biography: Judge Parnall was appointed to the Children’s Court Division of the Court in November of 2007 after a 30-year practice as a trial attorney in Criminal and Juvenile Defense and Personal Injury. He was appointed by the New Mexico Supreme Court as Co-Chair of the New Mexico Tribal/State Judicial Consortium and still serves on that committee. The purpose of the Consortium is to foster strong relationships between Tribal and State judges throughout New Mexico. Judge Parnall recently created a Family Reunification Drug Court in the Second Judicial District which provides extra support for families torn apart by drug and alcohol addiction. The goal of the program is to accomplish early reunification when in the best interest of children in order to avoid the trauma of separation from their families in prolonged foster placement.
Group: Children’s Court Judges
Name: Daniel E. Ramczyk
Division VI
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Audra Vigil

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.
Group: Civil Court Judges

Name: Debra Ramirez
Division XXIV
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Maria Guerrero
Biography: Judge Ramirez joined the Court in 2014 as the Domestic Violence Judge. Prior to that, she served the Second Judicial District Court as the Domestic Violence Special Commissioner from 2001-2003 returning in 2009, serving until her appointment to the bench in 2014. She serves as the Chair of the New Mexico Supreme Court’s Domestic Relations Rules Committee and is a member of the New Mexico Intimate Partner Homicide Review Team.
Group: Family Court Judges
Name: Alma C. Roberson
Division VII
TCAA: Natasha Gonzales

Biography: Judge Alma Cristina Roberson was born in the border town of El Paso, Texas to immigrant parents from Mexico.  She moved to Albuquerque in 2009 to attend the University of New Mexico School of Law.  She graduated in 2012 and started soon after as an attorney in the Metro Division of the Law Offices of the Public Defender.  In 2015, she moved to the Juvenile Division of LOPD where she found her true passion, working with children and their families.

As part of her advocacy, Judge Roberson served as a board member for Bernalillo County’s Reducing Racism and Ethnic Disparities Committee for two years.  Currently, Judge Roberson serves on the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court National Project Advisory Board for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.
Group: Children’s Court Judges

Name: Emeterio L. Rudolfo
Division XXI
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Darian Sanchez

Group: Criminal Court Judges

Name: Lucy Solimon
Division XXIX
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Colleen Lukas

Biography: Judge Lucy Solimon was born in Lebanon and immigrated to the United States with her parents when she was six years old.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Occidental College and then a second bachelor’s degree in Spanish from UNM.

Since graduating from UNM Law School in 2007, Judge Solimon has worked as both a defense attorney and prosecutor, and has State, Federal, and Administrative court experience.

She started her career in the New Mexico Public Defender’s Office helping indigent clients.  She spent some time in private practice, serving diverse clients throughout New Mexico.  She later served the Pueblo of Laguna as a Special Assistant US Attorney.  At the time of her appointment to the bench in July 2020, Judge Solimon was the Enforcement Bureau Chief and Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of New Mexico.
Group: Criminal Court Judges

Name: Marie Ward – Chief Judge
Division XIV
TCAA: Amy Martino
Biography: Judge Marie Ward was appointed to the District Court in March 2014. She joined the Court in 2004, serving the Second Judicial District Court as a Family Court Hearing Officer and Trial Court Staff Attorney. Judge Ward presides over the Juvenile Drug Court, a national model site, which is part of the National Learning Collaborative of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Judge Ward was the founder and director of the Court’s Peter H. Johnstone Pro Bono Program, which provides low income families with free settlement facilitation in Family Law matters. Judge Ward serves on a variety of committees focused on improving outcomes of youth and families involved in Juvenile Justice and Abuse and Neglect systems. Judge Ward graduated from UNM School of Law, magna cum laude, in 1998 and worked in private practice and as a Special Assistant Attorney General before joining the Court.
Group: Children’s Court Judges
Name: Courtney B. Weaks
Division XV
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Grizell Moreno-Leon

Biography: An Albuquerque native, Judge Courtney Weaks graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in English Literature in 2004.  She returned to New Mexico to attend UNM Law School, where she met her husband Jason, and graduated in 2007.

She began her career at the Second Judical District Attorney’s office, prosecuting criminal cases in Metropolitan Court, DWI charges as well as vehicular homicide cases.  Judge Weaks then entered private practice where she focused on criminal defense work in addition to practicing family law.

Judge Weaks was elected to the Metropolitan Court Bench in 2014 where she served as the Presiding Judge of Metropolitan Court’s Specialty Court Program as well as the Presiding Judge of the Court’s Behavioral Health Court Program and the Early Intervention Program.

Judge Weaks also serves as an executive of Bernalillo County’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council’s (BCCJCC) Subcommittee on Reintegration and Reentry.  She was elected to the District Court Bench in 2020.
Group: Criminal Court Judges

Name: Jennifer J. Wernersbach
Division XVI
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Katrina Spencer

Biography: Judge Jennifer J. Wernersbach graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 2004 and practiced as a trial lawyer for sixteen years, primarily in the areas of criminal law and civil rights in both state and federal court.

Judge Wernersbach was appointed to the Criminal Court Division of District Court in January 2021.
Group: Criminal Court Judges

Name: Stan Whitaker
Division II
Location: Downtown Court
TCAA: Sonja Clevenger
Phone: 505-841-7521
Biography: Judge Stan Whitaker is a 1989 graduate of the University of New Mexico School of Law. Judge Whitaker joined the Second Judicial District Court in 2006. He serves as a member of the Criminal Division. He was elected Chief Judge in 2018.
Group: Criminal Court Judges