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2016 Voter Guide

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Judge of the New Mexico Court of Appeals Candidates:

Stephen G. French

Stephen G. French

(Republican)

How have your training, professional experience, and interests prepared you to serve on this court?

For 35 years, I had the pleasure of meeting the legal needs of New Mexicans, as a prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, and a civil attorney. I handled over 110 appeals. I have been as a mediator and successfully resolved hundreds of complex cases. Now as a sitting Judge, I am familiar with the process and I have already decided several important matters before the Court.

What programs or changes would improve the New Mexico Supreme Court/Court of Appeals? (Question applies to the office for which you are the candidate.)

We need to continue to focus on the efficient administration of justice. I would like to see the Court of Appeals implement an electronic filing system. This would bring efficiency to the Court and the litigants.

What is your judicial philosophy?

Fairness must always come before politics. Every person, regardless of who they are, where they come from, or their political party is entitled to a full and fair hearing before the Court. That is the kind of Judge I am and that’s the kind of Judge I will continue to be.

What has been your greatest achievement as a judge?

In the short time I have been on the Court of Appeals, I have demonstrated my clear commitment to the fair and equal administration of justice, to resolving cases expeditiously, and to fostering the collegiality and dignity of the Court.

Julie J. Vargas

Julie J. Vargas

(Democrat)

How have your training, professional experience, and interests prepared you to serve on this court?

I was born and raised in Old Town, Albuquerque, where I still live. For 23 years, I’ve protected the rights of New Mexican families and New Mexico small businesses. I’ve dedicated my career to improving the legal profession, especially in the area of legal ethics. I’ve volunteered my time and services for NM Museum of Natural History Foundation, Children’s Cancer Fund and Special Olympics.

What programs or changes would improve the New Mexico Court of Appeals?

The Court of Appeals lags behind other New Mexico courts in the area of technology. While other courts are equipped for electronic filing and allow online access to court documents, the Court of Appeals does not have those capabilities. Budget constraints over the past several years have prevented the much-needed technological upgrades that would modernize the Court and make it more accessible to the public.

What is your judicial philosophy?

Know the law, understand the facts, and apply the law fairly and equally to everyone who comes before you, without exception.

What has been your greatest achievement as a judge?

My greatest professional achievement is my work on lawyer ethics. I am a member of the Disciplinary Board, making disciplinary recommendations to the Supreme Court about lawyers who violate ethical rules. I am an 18-year member of the Bar’s Ethics Advisory Committee, advising lawyers on ethical dilemmas. I have chaired that committee since 2008. I have also taught legal ethics at the UNM Law School.