The New Mexico Supreme Court has five justices who serve eight-year terms.
The current court consists of Chief Justice Charles W. Daniels, along with justices Petra Jimenez Maes, Edward L. Chavez, Barbara J. Vigil and Judith K. Nakamura.
While it is up to voters to retain Vigil’s seat, Nakamura will run against Michael Vigil for her seat.
Both candidates for the court were nominated by the bipartisan Appellate Judges Nominating Commission for the court in 2015, when Justice Richard Bosson retired.
Whoever is elected will begin his or her term on January 1, 2017.
Judith Nakamura, (R)
Judith Nakamura was appointed to the New Mexico Supreme Court by Governor Susana Martinez in 2015 after Bosson retired.
She is currently the only Republican on the court.
Nakamura worked as a judge in Bernalillo metropolitan and district courts for 17 years.
During her time on the Second Judicial District Court she presided over criminal cases. While on the Metropolitan Court she served four terms as chief justice.
Prior to that, she worked in a private legal practice and for the State Land Office.
Nakamura earned her law degree and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New Mexico.
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She was named Judge of the Year by the New Mexico Bar Association in 2004.
In 2006 Mother’s Against Drunk Driving awarded her Judge of the Year for her work to create programs to reduce DWIs in New Mexico.
Nakamura believes in a strict interpretation of the law using common sense guidance, according to her campaign website.
Michael Vigil, (D)
The democratic candidate for the New Mexico Supreme Court is Michael Vigil, running against incumbent Judith Nakamura.
He was appointed to the New Mexico Court of Appeals in 2003 by former Governor Bill Richardson and is currently the Chief Judge of the court.
His term on the Court of Appeals will end in 2020 if he is not elected to a different position.
He is a member of the Chief Judges Council and the Budget Committee for the New Mexico Courts.
Prior to working on the Court of Appeals, Vigil worked as a New Mexico attorney for 27 years. His private practice focused on personal injury and medical malpractice.
He is a member of the New Mexico Sentencing Commission, and was also on the Supreme Court Code of Professional Conduct committee from 2009-2016.
Vigil earned his law degree from Georgetown and graduated from the College of Santa Fe with a degree in political science.
He received the Native Hispanic Hero Award from the New Mexico House of Representatives and is a member of the American Law Institute.
Vigil was recommended for the Supreme Court previously.
Vigil is focused on hearing cases in a timely manner, according to his campaign website.
Barbara J. Vigil, D)
Vigil is a justice on the New Mexico Supreme Court, running for retention of her seat. She was elected to the court on Nov. 6, 2012, and was sworn in in December to fill the remainder of retired Justice Patricio Serna’s unexpired term.
That term expires on December 31, 2016, and Vigil must stand for retention by voters to remain on the bench. She does not have an opponent on the ballot. Rather, voters will cast a “yes” or “no” vote on whether she should remain on the court.
Cathy Cook is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Cathy_Daily.