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State Judicial Offices

Seal of NM Supreme CourtJudicial vacancies are filled through appointment by the Governor from a list of nominees submitted by a judicial nominating committee. At the next regular election the judicial position is filled in a partisan election in which the appointed judge must participate and win the most votes to retain the seat. Judges serve for terms of a set number of years, after which they must win a 57% “yes” vote in retention elections to keep their seats.

Supreme Court    Court of Appeals

Justice of the Supreme Court

Serves as one of five justices on the highest court in New Mexico. It is the court of last resort and has supervisory control over all lesser courts and attorneys licensed in the state. Required to hear appeals from the Public Regulation Commission, election challenges and criminal cases when a defendant is sentenced to the death penalty or life imprisonment. Has discretionary authority to review rulings of the Court of Appeals and questions of law certified to it by the Court of Appeals or federal court. Must be 35 years old, have practiced law for 10 years, and have resided in New Mexico for the last three years. Elected statewide for eight-year term. Salary: Chief Justice, $141,818; Associate Justice, $139,818.

Michael E Vigil (Democrat)


1. How have your training, professional experience and interests prepared you to serve on this court? (65 words)

I have been a lawyer for over 42 years and a Judge on the Court of Appeals for over 15 years. I was a trial attorney for over 27 years in civil and criminal cases and over 50 appeals. As Judge, I have decided over 3,000 cases and written over 1,000 opinions in every aspect of the law, protecting the rights of all New Mexicans.

2. What policies are critical to keep the judiciary independent from political influence? (65 words)

A judge must put ethics and impartiality first in deciding cases, and it is critical that judges not take money from special interests, corporations, or oil and gas companies. I am the only candidate for Supreme Court who is publicly financed. I am committed to insuring that all parties coming to court are treated equally, regardless of gender, race, economic status, background, or sexual preference.

3. What improvements in the Supreme Court would you seek to make if elected? (65 words)

criminal law to improve the rules for keeping people in jail who are dangerous pending their trial. In addition, I will explore whether the State can appeal from a sentence it deems to be too light.

Gary L Clingman (Republican)


1. How have your training, professional experience and interests prepared you to serve on this court? (65 words)

college at night while working as a police officer. I earned a Master of Judicial Studies degree, joined the faculty of the National Judicial College, and am a published author. A Judge for 21 years, I’ve tried over 650 jury trials, including complex civil and criminal litigation, children’s court matters, divorces, torts, and contract disputes.

2. What policies are critical to keep the judiciary independent from political influence? (65 words)

Soundly reasoned, clearly written opinions that are based upon precedent safeguard judicial independence. When this principle is observed, critics must attack the law upon which the opinion rests and not the judiciary itself. However, if this principle is ignored and non-precedential considerations become the basis for decisions, the judiciary abandons its safe haven above the political fray and its claim for judicial independence rings hollow.

3. What improvements in the Supreme Court would you seek to make if elected? (65 words)

The Supreme Court administers the entire judiciary. It has established internal deadlines to accelerate the resolution of cases before it. I would establish resolution deadlines for all state courts and increase the judiciary’s use of technology to better serve New Mexicans. We must develop faster and less expensive ways to resolve civil and domestic relations disputes while honoring due process requirements.



Judge of the Court of Appeals

Serves as one of ten judges on the intermediate court between the district courts and the Supreme Court. Judges sit in panels of three. Court reviews appeals in all cases, except criminal cases involving sentences of death or life imprisonment, appeals from the Public Regulation Commission, and cases involving habeas corpus. Must be 35 years old, have practiced law for 10 years, and have resided in New Mexico for the last three years. Elected statewide for eight-year term. Salary: Chief Judge, $134,727; Judge, $132,827.

Position 1    Position 2    Position 3    Position 4    Position 5

Position 1

Kristina Bogardus (Democrat)


1. How have your training, professional experience and interests prepared you to serve on this court? (65 words)

I have 27 years of legal experience, working with my colleagues to reach consensus on difficult legal issues. I have focused on legal writing throughout my career and believe that my writing skills will be an asset to the Court. I am a person who treats everyone with equal respect and fairness. I want to take these qualities to the Court of Appeals.

2. What policies are critical to keep the judiciary independent from political influence? (65 words)

I have always held myself to the highest ethical standards required by my profession, and, as a judge, I will continue to do so. The Judicial Code of Ethics provides strict rules to insulate the judiciary from politics. The public finance option is another way to keep political influence out of the courts, and I qualified for such financing for my campaign.

3. What improvements in the Court of Appeals would you seek to make if elected? (65 words)

Lawyers rely on our appellate courts to guide their practice and to advise their clients. I will keep the existing law in sight and not stray too far from it. The Court must provide timely opinions that provide clarity and guidance to lawyers and their clients and I intend to meet that goal. I expect to work hard to help relieve the Court’s heavy caseload.

Stephen G French (Republican)


1. How have your training, professional experience and interests prepared you to serve on this court? (65 words)

Prior to joining the Court, I was a prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, and civil trial attorney in State and Federal courts. I litigated over 110 appeals in State and Federal court. Since being appointed to the Court of Appeals, I have authored or participated in over 70 opinions. In the last two years, I have cleared the learning curve regarding the craft of authoring opinions.

2. What policies are critical to keep the judiciary independent from political influence? (65 words)

Our Code of Judicial Ethics generally serves to protect the independence of the courts. We need to keep partisan politics out of all judicial races. Public funding of Court of Appeals’ races was a great start. However, we must amend the New Mexico Constitution, Article VI, Section 33, to require non-partisan elections for judges in order to keep the judiciary independent from political influence.

3. What improvements in the Court of Appeals would you seek to make if elected? (65 words)

The modernization of the Court should continue to be our primary focus. Currently, we are transitioning the entire structure of the Court in order to address efficiency. This is an ongoing and time intensive process. Our goal is to provide quick resolution of disputes and justice for everybody who comes become the Court.


Position 2

Jacqueline R Medina (Democrat)


1. How have your training, professional experience and interests prepared you to serve on this court? (65 words)

I have practiced law for 27 years. As a former Children’s Court Attorney, Prosecutor, and Assistant Attorney General I tried several cases and handled over 160 appellate cases. I serve on the New Mexico Supreme Court Appellate Rules Committee, mentor law students, new attorneys, and I am a former Family Selection Committee member for the Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity. I bring experience and integrity.

2. What policies are critical to keep the judiciary independent from political influence? (65 words)

Judges are required to perform their work in a fair, impartial, and diligent manner. Judges must remain faithful to the law and not allow themselves to be swayed by partisan interests, fear of criticism, or public outcry. A judge must ensure that her extra-judicial activities not conflict with or give the appearance of conflicting with her judicial obligations.

3. What improvements in the Court of Appeals would you seek to make if elected? (65 words)

I have 16 1/2 years of appellate work and will hit the ground running. Criminal appeals make up the largest category of cases. As a former prosecutor I know that the lives of victims, the accused, and their families are on hold while their cases await review. I will seek to ensure that all cases are resolved in a timely and accurate manner.

Hank Bohnhoff (Republican)


1. How have your training, professional experience and interests prepared you to serve on this court? (65 words)

An appellate judge must have integrity, a strong work ethic, broad legal experience, and demonstrated legal ability. My parents taught me to work hard and be honest, fair, and respectful. I worked my way through Stanford University and Columbia University Law School. For 34 years I litigated a wide variety of cases across New Mexico, earning our legal community’s respect. See www.KeepJudgeHankBohnhoff.com for more information.

2. What policies are critical to keep the judiciary independent from political influence? (65 words)

Voters that I have met across New Mexico are dismayed to learn that our judges must run in partisan elections. Partisan elections for judges increase the risk that they will rule based on political considerations. The surest way to keep politics out of the courtroom is for New Mexico to join the many other states that have abandoned partisan, contested elections for judges.

3. What improvements in the Court of Appeals would you seek to make if elected? (65 words)

Our Court must decide appeals expeditiously, yet give each case careful consideration. We currently face a significant backlog. My colleagues and I recently have streamlined our procedures to process our docket more efficiently. These reforms are working, but do not sacrifice our commitment to give each party who comes before us his or her day in court. Upon election, I will continue implementing these improvements.


Position 3

Briana H Zamora (Democrat)


1. How have your training, professional experience and interests prepared you to serve on this court? (65 words)

My professional experience includes nearly a decade as a Judge in New Mexico. I have presided over thousands of cases and well over a hundred jury trials. I have earned a reputation for being fair but tough. New Mexicans deserve experienced judges who are independent and have integrity. The New Mexico Court of Appeals will benefit from my experience and reputation of integrity and fairness.

2. What policies are critical to keep the judiciary independent from political influence? (65 words)

legislative or executive branches of government. Judges must also set aside partisan or private-party interests when making decisions. Judicial ethics rules mandate judges make decisions independently and free from other influences. As a judge, I adhere to the Judicial Code of Conduct, which is an important tool for ensuring judicial independence.

3. What improvements in the Court of Appeals would you seek to make if elected? (65 words)

New Mexico Courts, including the Court of Appeals, are extremely busy. When courts are overburdened, cases can be unreasonably delayed. Litigants have a right to timely decisions. To cure this problem, our courts could benefit from additional resources, possible restructuring and increased use of alternative dispute resolution programs. As a judge, I have and will continue to, work to improve our courts system.

Emil J Kiehne (Republican)


1. How have your training, professional experience and interests prepared you to serve on this court? (65 words)

The most important qualification that voters should look for in a Court of Appeals judge is experience in doing appeals work, which requires very different skills from being a district court judge. With over 17 years’ experience handling appeals in both civil and criminal cases, I’m the only candidate for Position 3 whose career has been dedicated to this area of the law.

2. What policies are critical to keep the judiciary independent from political influence? (65 words)

I am participating in New Mexico’s system of public financing for statewide judicial elections, which means that I am not beholden to campaign contributors or special interests. Our Code of Judicial Conduct also places strict limits on the political activities of judges. Another good idea would be to move away from the partisan judicial races that we currently have in New Mexico.

3. What improvements in the Court of Appeals would you seek to make if elected? (65 words)

When I became a judge on the Court of Appeals over 10 months ago, I discovered that the Court was behind on its work, and had inefficient practices that slow cases down. My fellow judges and I are now making significant changes to help the Court decide cases more quickly, including hiring more law clerks and using more modern software, to name a few.


Position 4

Megan P Duffy (Democrat)


1. How have your training, professional experience and interests prepared you to serve on this court? (65 words)

I began my career clerking for Justice Bosson at the NM Supreme Court. Since then, I’ve spent my career at a small civil firm in Albuquerque, mastering my field and representing real people all over New Mexico. I understand how our courts affect every person in our state and I have the ability, experience, and perspective to serve New Mexico with integrity.

2. What policies are critical to keep the judiciary independent from political influence? (65 words)

Public financing is critical to the courts’ independence because the campaigns do not accept any money from donors and special interests, which eliminates conflicts of interest. In addition to adhering to our strict Judicial Code, I commit to always put ethics and impartiality first, and to treat all parties equally. I am proud to be publicly financed and committed to maintaining judicial integrity and independence.

3. What improvements in the Court of Appeals would you seek to make if elected? (65 words)

The Court is facing a backlog of cases as a result of having 5 judges retire in the last two years. My commitment is to work hard to bring the Court’s docket current so that parties receive timely decisions in their cases, and to draft clear opinions that litigants, attorneys, and courts can use and apply in future cases.

Daniel Jose Gallegos (Republican)


1. How have your training, professional experience and interests prepared you to serve on this court? (65 words)

By necessity, an appellate judge must be a generalist. Throughout my varied career, I have served as a prosecutor in the Navy and in NM; a legal advisor to military commanders at sea and in Iraq; a COA staff attorney, where I handled more than 250 appeals; and following a recommendation by the bipartisan judicial nominating commission, I am currently a sitting COA judge.

2. What policies are critical to keep the judiciary independent from political influence? (65 words)

No one wants to appear before a judge perceived to be beholden to someone or something other than the law itself. Public financing of judicial elections is a start, but in this constitutionally mandated partisan election, I have also chosen to utilize campaign materials that do not denote political party affiliation. In this way, I can guarantee that I render decisions without fear or favor.

3. What improvements in the Court of Appeals would you seek to make if elected? (65 words)

The Court must not only issue fair, just, and well-reasoned opinions, but it must also ensure that its opinions are timely. As a sitting COA judge and member of the Judicial Information Systems Council, I have been on the forefront of internal and technological improvements aimed at increasing judicial efficiency. With my continued efforts, I believe opinions will be issued in a timelier fashion.


Position 5

Jennifer L Attrep (Democrat)

Unopposed