Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Judge seeking position he lost

Staff writer

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Among the candidates for ousted District Judge Albert Mitchell’s position will be Mitchell himself.

Mitchell was one of two New Mexico judges who did not receive enough votes to be retained in the general election Nov. 4. The other was Sheri Raphaelson, a judge in the First Judicial District in Santa Fe.

Mitchell needed 57 percent of the votes to keep his position as the sole judge in the Tenth District, but received fewer than 50 percent — 1,884 voters wanted him out, compared to 1880 votes for retention.

The Tenth District include Quay, De Baca and Harding counties.

Still, Mitchell said he will be a candidate for the position that Gov. Susana Martinez will appoint.

And Mitchell said precedent may favor his re-appointment. Martinez, he said, has already reappointed three judges to the bench after they had lost retention elections.

Mitchell even holds a position on the judicial nominating committee that will find and recommend candidates to Martinez.

“The state constitution puts me in that position,” he said, “and we’ll see how that turns out.”

Mitchell obtained the position as the only judge in the Tenth District.

Raylene Weis, coordinator of the state’s judicial nominating commission, said the state’s chief justice , Barbara J. Vigil, may have to decide whether Mitchell can sit on the commission.

The nominating commission also includes the dean of the University of New Mexico’s law school, a state supreme court justice, a judge on New Mexico’s appeals court, members appointed by Gov. Martinez and the speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives.

The commission will hold its first public session to evaluate candidates at 10 a.m. Dec. 11 in the Quay County Courthouse in Tucumcari, Weis said.

“The commission meeting is open to the public and members of the public who wish to be heard about any of the candidates will have an opportunity to be heard,” she said.

After that first meeting, she said, applicants selected will face public interview sessions. Following those sessions, the commission will meet in private to evaluate applications and interview results, but will convene in public to make a final recommendation to Gov. Martinez, who makes the final appointment, Weis said.

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