After 18 years on the bench, state District Judge Michael E. Vigil announced Tuesday that he plans to retire effective Sept. 28.
“It’s time,” he said. “It’s hard to believe. It’s gone by so quickly. I need to take a break and recharge my batteries.”
The state Judicial Nominating Commission posted the vacancy Tuesday and solicited applications, with a deadline of Sept. 26. The commission will meet Oct. 11 at the courthouse in Santa Fe to review the applicants, and it will submit recommendations for Gov. Susana Martinez to make an appointment.
Vigil said the appointee will serve for two years until the next election; it’s too late for nominees to get on this November’s ballot.
After 17 years of practicing law on Santa Fe’s west side, Vigil himself was appointed to the post on Aug. 18, 1994. It was former Gov. Bruce King’s last judicial appointment, Vigil said, adding that he garnered strong vote totals to keep the job in subsequent elections.
“I’ve enjoyed it. It’s a wonderful job,” he said. “It’s hard, hard to make the tough choices. But at the end of the day, you often feel very satisfied with what you’ve done.”
He said the timing was determined partly by the fact that he became eligible for full retirement this month. Vigil, who will turn 60 in October, said he also needs some time to take care of some personal health issues; he declined for now to elaborate on what they are.
Until his retirement, though, he’s got a full month of jury trials ahead of him. “I’ll be busy,” Vigil said.
Vigil said he doesn’t have firm plans for the future, although he does want to continue to contribute to the community in some way. His first plans after retirement, though, are “just resting, taking it easy,” maybe doing more hiking.
“Hopefully, I’ll come back a little stronger,” he added.