Canyon descending through the Sandia Mountains

Second Judicial District Court


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New Mexico Judiciary Overview

The following information may be of use to you in learning about the various levels of jurisdiction in New Mexico.

The State of New Mexico house several levels of courts.

These courts are:

  • US Federal District Court
  • US Bankruptcy Court
  • Supreme Court
  • Court of Appeals
  • District Courts
  • Metropolitan Court
  • Magistrate Courts
  • Probate Courts
  • Tribal Courts

The courts/agencies the Second Judicial District Court has the most interaction with are:

New Mexico Supreme Court

The Supreme Court consists of five Justices and is located in Santa Fe.  This is the court of last resort and has superintending control over all inferior courts and attorneys licensed in the state.  This court has mandatory jurisdiction over criminal matters in which the sentence imposed is life in prison; appeals from the Public Regulation Commission; appeals from the granting of writs of habeas corpus; appeals in actions challenging nominations; and removal of public officials.

New Mexico Court of Appeals

Ten judges preside, sitting in panels of three.  The court has offices in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.  This court has mandatory jurisdiction in civil, non-capital criminal, and juvenile cases; discretionary jurisdiction in interlocutory decision cases and administrative agency appeals.

New Mexico District Courts

There are thirteen different districts.  These are courts of general jurisdiction which hold jury trials.  This court will hear these types of cases:  Tort, contract, real property rights, estate; exclusive domestic relations; mental health; appeals from administrative agencies and lower courts; miscellaneous civil jurisdiction; misdemeanor; exclusive criminal appeals jurisdiction; exclusive juvenile jurisdiction.

Magistrate Court

These are court of limited jurisdiction who also do jury trials.  This court will hear these types of cases:  Tort, contract, landlord/tenant rights ($0 – $10,000); felony preliminary hearings; misdemeanor; DWI/DUI and other traffic violations.

Municipal Court

These are courts of limited jurisdiction that do not perform jury trials.  This court will hear these types of cases:  Petty misdemeanors, DWI/DUI, traffic violations and other municipal ordinance violations.

Probate Court (At County Level)

These are courts of limited jurisdiction that do not perform jury trials.  This court will hear these types of cases:  Informal probate; estate (hears uncontested cases).  Contested cases go to district court.

District Attorney

There shall be a district attorney for each judicial district.  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 attorney shall serve.

Public Defender Department

There is a public defender department located in Santa Fe.  Under the control of the chief, each district public defender shall administer the operation of the department within his/her district.  The public defender is required to represent: Any person financially unable to obtain counsel who is charged with a crime carrying a possible sentence of imprisonment; any person who is financially unable to obtain counsel in any state post-conviction proceeding; may confer with any person who is not represented by counsel and who is being forcibly detained.

Administrative Office of the Courts

The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) exists to enable the court of New Mexico to accomplish their mission through: Ensuring that the courts have adequate, equitably distributed resources; ensuring that the courts have and use current technology; providing a fair and equitable statewide human resource system; developing and implementing improved court processes and supporting courts in their use; collecting and providing information on and for the courts; managing and accounting for the collection of revenue; ensuring sound financial, budgeting and procurement practices in the management of court resources; providing administrative support for the magistrate courts; maintaining liaison with the legislative and executive branches of state government.

Judicial Standards Commission

The function of the Judicial Standards Commission is to recommend to the Supreme Court the discipline, removal, or retirement of any justice, judge or magistrate when the commission finds good cause.