Created in 1966, the New Mexico Court of Appeals is the intermediate court of appeals for the State of New Mexico, sitting between the district courts and the supreme court. The court has locations in Albuquerque and Santa Fe and handles almost 1000 cases per year. With a few exceptions, it hears appeals as a matter of right in all cases throughout the state.
The court of appeals consists of ten elected judges. Currently, the judges have a wide variety of backgrounds, with experience in both civil and criminal practice, public and private. Several have also been district court judges. Appeals are heard by randomly selected panels of three judges, and must be decided by a majority. In addition, the court has a number of staff attorneys to assist it with its heavy case load.
Appeals to the court of appeals are usually assigned to one of two “calendars”: the general calendar, or the summary calendar. Summary calendar cases can be decided fairly quickly, and result in non-precedential memorandum opinions. They do not have traditional briefing or oral arguments. Cases assigned to the general calendar are get fully briefed and may have oral argument. They also generally take longer to be decided, and are more likely to generate a precedential opinion.
Opinions from the court of appeals may be reviewed by the New Mexico Supreme Court. However, appeals to the supreme court are not allowed as a matter of right; rather, the supreme court has discretion to accept or decline a request to review a court of appeals opinion. Although the supreme court does not accept many cases, it is more likely to reverse or partially reverse an opinion once it has accepted the case.