Who is subject to the Commission’s Jurisdiction?

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.

Are There Judges Over Whom the Commission Does Not Have Jurisdiction?

The Commission has no jurisdiction over special commissioners, hearing officers, or other non-elected employees who are not justices or judges, pursuant to Article VI, Section 32 of the New Mexico Constitution. Additionally, no jurisdiction exists for the Commission to review complaints against federal judges or magistrates or New Mexico Executive Branch hearing officers and judges.

What is Judicial Misconduct?

Judicial misconduct is willful misconduct in office; persistent failure or inability to perform judicial duties; habitual intemperance; and disability seriously interfering with the performance of judicial duties which is, or is likely to become, of a permanent character; and violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Some examples of judicial misconduct are:

  • Failure to comply with the law
  • Using the judicial position to gain personal or economic interests of the judge or allow others to do so
  • Failing to perform judicial duties
  • Excessive delay
  • Improper courtroom demeanor or abusive treatment of parties, counsel, witnesses, jurors, or staff
  • Expressions of bias based on gender, ethnicity, religion, national origin, disability, etc.
  • Allowing family, social, public opinion or political relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Receiving gifts, loans, or favors from parties
  • Public comments on pending or impending cases
  • Communicating improperly with only one side to a proceeding
  • Substance abuse
  • Improper election campaign activities
  • Criminal behavior

You may refer to Code of Judicial Conduct for additional examples.

Who Can File a Complaint?

Anyone may file a complaint using the Commission’s complaint form. The Commission may docket allegations on its own motion, as may the Commission’s Executive Director/General Counsel.

Will Filing a Complaint Affect my Ability to Appeal my Case?

No. Commission investigations and prosecutions are separate from and have no effect on other legal proceedings.

How Do I File a Complaint?

Complaints may be filed by using the complaint form provided on the Commission’s website or you may request a complaint form by calling 505-222-9353 and a complaint form will be mailed to you. The Commission cannot accept faxed or e-mailed complaints.

Should I Attach Copies of Documents, Transcripts, or Statements of Other Witnesses?

If you have documents, transcripts, recordings, or witness statements that substantiate your allegations of misconduct, please provide them. Do not provide documents in support of an allegation that a judge made incorrect legal decisions, as the Commission lacks the authority to review the legal sufficiency of judicial rulings.

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. Please only attach copies of your supporting documents with your complaint form.

Can I Appeal the Commission’s Decision?

You may submit a motion for reconsideration if the Commission dismisses your complaint.

What Can the Commission Do to a Judge Who Has Committed Misconduct?

The Commission may impose informal confidential dispositions such as training, mentoring, probation or issue an advisory letter. The Commission does not have the authority to discipline, retire or remove a judge. The Supreme Court is the only state institution vested with the authority to discipline, retire or remove a judge. Discipline may include suspension; limitations or conditions on the performance of judicial duties; training; counseling; mentorship, public censure; fine; any other discipline appropriate to the conduct; involuntary retirement; or removal.

Will I Know the Outcome of My Complaint?

You will be advised in writing of the outcome of your complaint, subject to the limits of confidentiality.

Can the Commission Change a Legal Ruling?

No, the Commission has no authority to alter a judge’s ruling, and the Commission process is not a substitute for seeking appellate review.

Can the Commission Order a New Judge to Take Over My Case?

No, the Commission does not have jurisdiction to assign or remove a judge from your case.  Filing a complaint with the Commission does not require that a new judge hear your matter.

Will My Complaint Become Public?

Pursuant to Article VI, Section 32 of the New Mexico Constitution, all papers filed with the Commission and proceedings before the Commission are confidential. However, a record filed by the Commission following a hearing on the merits – which may include your complaint – becomes public upon filing with the Supreme Court.

Will a Judge Know Who Filed a Complaint?

Your name may be disclosed to the judge who is the subject of a complaint. You may be called to participate and/or testify in Commission proceedings.