Meet Your Justices
The New Mexico Supreme Court is the State’s highest court and final court of review (court of last resort). In addition to reviewing decisions of lower courts, the Supreme Court, as the head of the Judicial Branch of Government, has general administrative and supervisory authority over all State courts and attorney regulation. The Court has authority to discipline attorneys and judges for professional misconduct and unethical behavior.
The Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear direct appeals in criminal cases in which the trial court imposed a life sentence or the death penalty or granted a petition for writ of habeas corpus, in all cases from the Public Regulation Commission, and election challenges. In its discretion, the Court may issue writs of certiorari, mandamus, prohibition, and superintending control. After a case is accepted by the Court, the parties submit written briefs that put forth the legal arguments and citations of authority to support those arguments. The records, proceedings, and exhibits from the trial court are reviewed at the same time as the briefs. Some cases are submitted to the Court on oral argument and some are submitted only on the briefs.
The work of authoring opinions is divided evenly and randomly among the five Justices. After a case is submitted to the Court, the Court first discusses the case before the assigned author drafts an opinion that will be circulated among the other Justices. Adoption of an opinion, decision, or order requires the votes of three members of the Court. In certain cases, a member of the Court may decide to file a specially concurring opinion or a dissenting opinion. It is the majority opinion of the Court, however, that determines the law of the case.