The New Mexico Court System is comprised of Probate Court, Municipal Court, Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court, Magistrate Court, District Court, Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.
New Mexico Probate Court
The State of New Mexico has 33 counties, and the Probate Court has one judge for each county. These courts have very limited jurisdiction over probate and uncontested estate cases only, with no jury trials. Contested estate cases are heard by district courts.
New Mexico Municipal Court
With 80 municipal courts in New Mexico, 82 judges serve these courts. These also exercise limited jurisdiction over misdemeanors, drunk driving, municipal ordinance violations and traffic violations. The New Mexico Municipal Court does not have jury trials.
New Mexico Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court
The Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court has jury trials for cases of landlord and tenant rights up to $10,000, first appearance felonies, misdemeanor and drunk driving, domestic violence, tort and contract claims. There are 19 judges serving this court, and cases are decided by jury trial.
New Mexico Magistrate Court
The New Mexico Magistrate Court also decides cases by jury trial and exercises limited jurisdiction over cases of landlord and tenant rights up to $10,000, tort and contract law, felony first appearances, misdemeanors, drunk driving and traffic violations. There are 54 New Mexico magistrate courts with 67 judges.
New Mexico District Court
New Mexico has thirteen districts, and 94 judges serving the New Mexico District Court. District courts have general jurisdiction over property rights, estate, tort and contract cases. They also exercise exclusive jurisdiction over domestic relations, appeals from lower courts, mental health cases, misdemeanors, criminal appeals and juvenile cases.
New Mexico Court of Appeals
New Mexico's Court of Appeals is located in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, with ten judges. These judges sit on panels of three and have jurisdiction in juvenile cases, civil and non-capital criminal cases. The court may also exercise discretionary jurisdiction in administrative agency appeals.
New Mexico Supreme Court
New Mexico's Supreme Court is located in Santa Fe and has five justices. As the court of last resort, it hears appeals from lower courts in criminal cases where life imprisonment and death penalty sentences prevail, Public Regulation Commission issues, writs of habeas corpus and removing public officials from office. It also exercises discretionary jurisdiction over petitions for writ of habeas corpus and writs or certiorari, as well as constitutional questions from Courts of Appeal and courts at the federal level.
New Mexico Notable Court Cases
In 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court decided that same-sex marriages are protected by the state's constitution. Although there are no statutes regulating same-sex relationships in New Mexico, the laws which have been in place since 1961 require female and male citizens to apply for a license. Local issuing of same-sex marriage licenses led to the government asking the Supreme Court for an opinion on the matter.
On December 19, 2013, the justices issued a unanimous decision stating that the New Mexico is "'constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage." The opinion also stated that religious or other institutions that are against same-sex marriage are not required to "'solemnize" them.