New Mexico Case Law
The New Mexico state court system is divided into three levels. The highest court in New Mexico is the New Mexico Supreme Court, which consists of five judges. The Supreme Court reviews appeals of decisions by the New Mexico Court of Appeals. It also reviews appeals of decisions by trial courts in limited situations, and it reviews appeals of decisions by the Public Regulation Commission. Decisions by the New Mexico Supreme Court are final unless the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to review an appeal of a decision.
The middle level of the New Mexico state court system is the New Mexico Court of Appeals. This court consists of 10 judges, who review cases in three-judge panels. Most appeals from trial courts must pass through the Court of Appeals before reaching the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals also may review appeals of decisions by state administrative agencies.
The lowest level of the New Mexico state court system consists primarily of the New Mexico District Courts, the New Mexico Magistrate Courts, and the New Mexico Municipal Courts. The District Courts are trial courts with general jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases. These courts also review appeals of decisions by Magistrate Courts and Municipal Courts. The jurisdiction of the Magistrate Courts is limited to certain types of cases. These include traffic offenses, landlord-tenant disputes, and preliminary hearings in felony cases. (The Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court handles similar matters in that county.) The Municipal Courts review cases that involve minor misdemeanors, traffic offenses, and violations of municipal ordinances.
New Mexico also has certain other courts that review distinctive types of cases. These include the New Mexico Probate Courts, the New Mexico Workers' Compensation Administration Court, and the New Mexico Problem-Solving Courts. The Probate Courts review cases involving wills, trusts, and other matters related to estates. The Workers' Compensation Administration Court reviews workers' compensation disputes. The Problem-Solving Courts help people convicted of certain crimes avoid relapses into substance abuse and other dangerous behaviors.