How do I file a complaint against a judge?
Complaints about judicial misconduct and disability are filed with the Judicial Standards Commission, which is the only state agency with the responsibility to investigate, conduct hearings, and recommend sanctions to the New Mexico Supreme Court. The Commission has thirteen members, which include seven public members, two attorneys, one Magistrate Court judge, one Municipal Court judge, and two justices or judges of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals or District Courts.
You may download a complaint form by clicking HERE or you may request one by contacting us at:
Judicial Standards Commission
P.O. Box 27248
Albuquerque, NM 87125-7248
All materials that you file with the Commission will become part of the Commission’s confidential files and will not be returned or copied to you. Therefore, please only provide copies of your supporting documents with your original, signed and verified complaint form. The Commission cannot accept faxed or e-mailed complaints.
What issues can the Commission address?
The Commission is authorized to investigate complaints against currently serving state, county or municipal judges, including Supreme Court Justices and judges of the Court of Appeals, District Courts, Metropolitan Court, Magistrate Courts, Municipal Courts, and Probate Courts. The Commission’s jurisdiction also extends to court-appointed commissioners, hearing officers, and administrative law judges while they are serving in a judicial capacity, and use of the word “judge” in these materials and the complaint form includes them as well.
The Commission has no jurisdiction over retired judges, judges who are no longer in office, federal judges or magistrates, or Workers’ Compensation Administration judges, Tax and Revenue Department Hearing Officers, or other administrative law judges of the Executive or Legislative branches of New Mexico State Government.
The Commission investigates complaints of willful misconduct in office, persistent failure or inability to perform judicial duties, habitual intemperance (i.e., alcohol or drug abuse), and disability of a permanent nature that renders the judge incapable of performing judicial duties. The Commission also investigates alleged violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct (21-100 NMRA, et seq.).
What will happen after I file my complaint?
The Commission will review the complaint and attachments that you submit. Commission staff will also review and research your allegations. A confidential inquiry or investigation may be conducted. A confidential hearing may be held to take evidence. If appropriate, the Commission may privately inform a judge that conduct may violate the Code of Judicial Conduct; propose professional counseling or assistance; or recommend that the Supreme Court discipline, remove or retire a judge.
- Your allegations concern matters that are outside the Commission’s jurisdiction.
- Your allegations concern someone who is not a currently serving judge or specified judicial officer.
- Your allegations are not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence.
- Your allegations concern legal issues that you must address in court, by motion, appeal, or petition for a writ, including disputes about the rulings or orders, application of the law, determinations of fact, decisions about evidence and witness testimony, and matters within a judge’s authority and discretion.
Will filing a complaint help my court case?
Your complaint to the Judicial Standards Commission will have no direct effect on your court case. The Commission has no authority to intervene in your court case, to change the judge’s rulings or orders in your case, or to remove the judge from your case. Filing a complaint with the Commission will not require the judge to recuse or disqualify from your case.
The Commission will only address alleged violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct (ethics code for judges) or genuine issues of disability. The Commission is not a court and cannot substitute for the appellate or writ process. You must take prompt action within the court system to appeal or correct any judicial errors that you believe have occurred in your case.
Commission staff cannot give you any legal advice or opinions. Commission attorneys do not represent you in any pending matter.
Will the Judge know about my complaint?
Article VI, Section 32 of the New Mexico Constitution mandates that all papers filed with, and all matters before, the Commission are confidential. The filing of papers and giving of testimony before the commission or its masters is privileged in any action for defamation, except that the record filed by the commission in the supreme court continues privileged but, upon its filing, loses its confidential character, and a writing which was privileged prior to its filing with the commission or its masters does not lose its privilege by the filing.
The Supreme Court’s files and hearings are accessible to the public, subject to the rules and orders of the Court.
A complainant’s name may be disclosed to the judge who is the subject of the complaint. A complainant may be called to participate and/or testify in Commission proceedings.
Commission staff cannot respond to requests for information regarding a complaint or any other proceeding before the Commission. However, a complainant will receive written notice of the ultimate outcome of the complaint, subject to the limits of confidentiality.