2021 New Mexico Statutes
Chapter 35 - Magistrate and Municipal Courts
Article 3 - Magistrate Court; Jurisdiction
Section 35-3-3 - Jurisdiction; civil actions.

Universal Citation: NM Stat § 35-3-3 (2021)

A. Magistrates have jurisdiction in civil actions in which the debt or sum claimed does not exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000), exclusive of interest and costs.

B. Except as provided in Subsection C of this section, civil jurisdiction extends to actions in contract, quasi-contract and tort and where expressly conferred by law.

C. A magistrate has no jurisdiction in a civil action:

(1) for malicious prosecution, libel or slander;

(2) against public officers for misconduct in office;

(3) for specific performance of contracts for the sale of real property;

(4) in which the title or boundaries of land may be in dispute or drawn into question;

(5) affecting domestic relations, including divorce, annulment or separation or custody, support, guardianship, adoption or dependency of children;

(6) to grant writs of injunction, habeas corpus or extraordinary writs; or

(7) where jurisdiction is vested exclusively in another court.

History: 1953 Comp., § 36-3-3, enacted by Laws 1968, ch. 62, § 48; 1973, ch. 206, § 1; 1989, ch. 65, § 1; 1999, ch. 104, § 2; 2001, ch. 77, § 2.


Repeals. — Laws 1968, ch. 62, § 171, repealed former 36-3-3, 1953 Comp., relating to venue in civil suits, effective January 1, 1969.

Cross references. — For jurisdiction of magistrate court, see Rule 2-201B NMRA.

The 2001 amendment, effective July 1, 2001, substituted "ten thousand dollars ($10,000)" for "seven thousand five hundred dollars ($7,500)" in Subsection A.

The 1999 amendment, effective July 1, 1999, substituted "seven thousand five hundred dollars ($7,500)" for "five thousand dollars ($5,000)" in Subsection A.

The 1989 amendment, effective June 16, 1989, substituted "five thousand dollars ($5,000)" for "two thousand dollars ($2,000)" in Subsection A, and inserted "of this section" in Subsection B.

Some of the following annotations are taken from cases and opinions decided and rendered under former law.

No jurisdiction where land title or boundary dispute. — Justices of the peace (now magistrates) have no jurisdiction of any matter in controversy when title or boundaries of land are in dispute. Tapia v. Martinez, 1888-NMSC-002, 4 N.M. (Gild.) 329, 16 P. 272.

Exception to bar of jurisdiction. — Where the title to real estate is drawn in question indirectly or incidentally, statutory and constitutional provisions are not violated. Brown v. Bigham, 1958-NMSC-110, 65 N.M. 45, 331 P.2d 1106.

Test of exception. — Where the statute gives a justice of the peace (now magistrate) jurisdiction, courts are powerless to impose limitations on such jurisdiction by construction. The fact that title to land may be incidentally involved does not oust a justice of the peace (now magistrate) of jurisdiction. Unless otherwise provided by statute, the test as to whether title is so directly involved as to deprive a justice of the peace (now magistrate) of jurisdiction is whether the issues to be litigated demand a judgment affecting title. Where the issues demand a judgment for the recovery of money only, title is not directly involved. State v. Brown, 1963-NMSC-127, 72 N.M. 274, 383 P.2d 243.

Effect on garnishment of rent. — Question of title to land raised only indirectly does not divest justice of peace (now magistrate) of jurisdiction. In garnishment proceeding in which debtor's wife claimed the money deposited in garnishee bank as her own as the rent of her property, the title to land was not involved. Wood Garage v. Jasper, 1937-NMSC-019, 41 N.M. 289, 67 P.2d 1000.

Garnishment in district and magistrate courts. — Since garnishment is both a special proceeding, and a remedial writ, ancillary to the main action, district courts have jurisdiction to issue writs of garnishment in the exercise of their jurisdiction in the main action only to the extent that jurisdiction over such special proceedings as garnishment is conferred by law. Therefore, a district court does not have jurisdiction to issue a writ of garnishment where the amount in question is not in excess of the jurisdictional amount of magistrate courts having venue within the county. Postal Fin. Co. v. Sisneros, 1973-NMSC-029, 84 N.M. 724, 507 P.2d 785.

Injunction. — Metropolitan Court has jurisdiction under the Mobile Home Park Act to issue injunctions. Martinez v. Sedillo, 2005-NMCA-029, 137 N.M. 103, 107 P.3d 543.

Jurisdiction on Sundays. — Judicial proceedings other than purely formal acts are void if performed on Sunday. Thus, misdemeanor cases cannot be tried, nor fines imposed, on Sunday. 1961 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 61-05.

Effect on jurisdiction where penalty exceeds limit. — Where the maximum penalty which may be imposed exceeds the jurisdictional limits of the authority of a magistrate, the court thereby loses jurisdiction to try the person accused. To do otherwise would be to lessen the penalties which the legislature has deemed assessable for the named offense. 1960 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 60-188.

Magistrate's monetary jurisdiction limits restitution. — The amount of compelled or agreed restitution in cases involving the Criminal Code or the Motor Vehicle Code is limited by the magistrate's monetary jurisdiction. 1979 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 79-18.

Law reviews. — For article, "Attachment in New Mexico - Part II," see 2 Nat. Resources J. 75 (1962).

For article, "Habeas Corpus in New Mexico," see 11 N.M.L. Rev. 291 (1981).

Am. Jur. 2d, A.L.R. and C.J.S. references. — 47 Am. Jur. 2d Justices of the Peace § 17 et seq.

When title to real property deemed involved within contemplation of statute providing that justice of the peace (now magistrate) shall not have jurisdiction of matters relating to title to land, 115 A.L.R. 504.

Small claims: jurisdictional limits as binding on appellate court, 67 A.L.R.4th 1117.

51 C.J.S. Justices of the Peace §§ 1, 26 to 52.

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