New Mexico Supreme Court

The New Mexico Supreme Court is New Mexico’s highest court and its court of last resort. The Court was created by Article VI of the New Mexico Constitution when New Mexico achieved statehood on January 6, 1912.  Initially, the Court consisted of just three Justices.  In 1929, the Court was expanded to five justices.  Until 1966, when the New Mexico Court of Appeals was created, appeals could be taken as a matter of right directly to the Supreme Court.

Today, the Court is perhaps best known for hearing appeals from the court of appeals.  The Court has discretion to review decisions of the court of appeals that (1) are in conflict with a decision of the Supreme Court; (2) are in conflict with a decision of the court of appeals; (3) involve a significant question of law under the New Mexico or U.S. Constitutions; or (4) involve an issue of substantial public interest that should be determined by the Court.

In addition to hearing appeals from the court of appeals, there are a number of lesser-known areas over which the Court has jurisdiction.  Most importantly, the Court hears appeals from the district courts in cases where a sentence of death or life imprisonment has been imposed (or for interlocutory appeals where such a sentence could be imposed).  Similarly, it hears appeals from petitions for writs of habeas corpus.  The Court also hears all appeals from the Public Regulation Commission.  Municipalities can appeal district court decisions directly to the Court in cases brought for the violation of an ordinance. The Court also reviews petitions for discipline made by the Disciplinary Board and the Judicial Standards Commission.  It has exclusive original jurisdiction over proceedings to remove regents from the state’s educational institutions.  Finally, the Court reviews certain election-related matters. In the past, the Court has also heard direct appeals from contract cases and human rights act cases; however, its direct appeal jurisdiction has shrunk over time. Finally, the Supreme Court also has original jurisdiction over all “necessary and proper” writs, including writs of superintending control, writs of mandamus, and writs of quo warranto.