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2016 Voter Guide

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New Mexico Supreme Court Candidates:

Judith K. Nakamura

Judith K. Nakamura

(Republican)

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

As one of five Supreme Court Justices, I help resolve a wide spectrum of complex legal issues and supervise state courts. My extensive civil law experience—private, corporate and governmental—and my past service as a former Metropolitan Court and District Court criminal trial judge, is unique on our Court. My four terms as the Metropolitan Court’s Chief Judge provide invaluable court managerial skills.

What programs or changes would improve the New Mexico Supreme Court?

Difficult economic times have led to a stark diminution of judicial resources, without a corresponding decrease in cases. Improved resource availability, along with better allocation to need areas and core support staffing, can best facilitate the most important objective: improving the timely disposition of court cases. People’s lives hang in the balance when justice is delayed; my goal is to speed the process up.

What is your judicial philosophy?

My philosophy is to correctly resolve the cases that come before the Supreme Court. To do so, the Constitution is to be followed, as are laws written by our Legislators. Jurists must non-creatively and faithfully honor precedent. Fairness, punctuality, evenhandedness and respect for litigants are the philosophic hallmarks of judicial service.

What has been your greatest achievement as a judge?

My greatest achievement is the unprecedented privilege of serving at every level of our Court system, currently as a Supreme Court Justice. Along the way, I was honored by MADD as its national judge of the year for combatting DWI, I sped up and tried dozens of delayed criminal cases at District Court. I have now authored or participated in dozens of Supreme Court decisions.

Michael E. Vigil

Michael E. Vigil

(Democrat)

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

I am Chief Judge of the New Mexico Court of Appeals, on which I have served since 2003. I have sat on over 3,000 appellate cases and written over 1,000 appellate opinions. I appeared as counsel in every NM judicial district and was appellate counsel in over 50 precedent-setting cases as a practicing attorney for 27 years before serving on the Court of Appeals.

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.)

The Supreme Court can provide for the safety of our children and communities by Implementing practical rules for district attorneys and courts and by creating tools that laboratories and police officers need to do their jobs.

What is your judicial philosophy?

My judicial philosophy is that everyone, regardless of their race, religion, sex, national origin, social class, or sexual orientation should have their day in court and be heard because justice isn’t only about laws, it’s about lives.

What has been your greatest achievement as a judge?

My greatest achievement has been working hard for the last 13 years on the Court of Appeals for all the people of New Mexico to enforce the laws and protect their rights: their personal rights, their property rights, their constitutional rights. I have twice been recommended as qualified for the NM Supreme Court by the bi-partisan Appellate Judges Nominating Commission.