New Mexico Court of Appeals Judges Appointment Process
When a vacancy occurs on the Court of Appeals bench, a judge is appointed by the New Mexico governor. According to a 1989 amendment to the Constitution of the State of New Mexico, the governor can only appoint someone who is recommended by a bipartisan Judicial Nominating Commission. Such commissions conduct hearings and interview each applicant in a courtroom that is open to the public. The commission is tasked with identifying only the most qualified applicants to ensure that Court of Appeals judgeships are based upon merit and are not given as political favors.
Though the process is very challenging for any judge-hopeful, it was through this process that Judge J. Miles Hanisee secured his current position as New Mexico Court of Appeals judge in 2011 and 2012.
Bipartisan Judicial Nominating Commission
The nominating commission is comprised of 16 members including the dean of the University of New Mexico School of Law, lawyers, non-lawyers, and judges, with Republicans and Democrats equally represented. Their task is to evaluate each applicant according to the constitutional requirements for Court of Appeals judges, including:
- Physical and mental ability to perform the tasks required
- Professional skills
- Community involvement
- Social awareness
- Writing ability
- Judicial temperament
- Speaking ability
This commission evaluates each applicant’s qualifications through public interviews and private hearings. Public hearings are also open to the media, and members of the audience may direct questions to the applicants.