SANTA FE, N.M. — Gov. Susana Martinez announced today that she has filled two vacant state district judgeships in New Mexico’s 8th Judicial District, appointing Sarah Backus and Andria Cooper, both of Taos.
Backus fills the vacancy in the Division II, created by the resignation of Judge Sam Sanchez, who recently stepped down under pressure from the New Mexico Supreme Court for jailing a crowd from his courtroom for contempt of court after a short outburst.
Andria Cooper fills a new judicial position in Division III created by House Bill 188, which was approved by the Legislature during the last legislative session and signed by the governor in April.
“These judges are entrusted with the important job of upholding the law with integrity and fairness,” said Martinez said in a news release. “Both Ms. Backus and Ms. Cooper have demonstrated that they are capable attorneys and public servants and I believe that they will work hard on behalf of the people of Taos, Colfax, and Union Counties.”
Backus is the director and attorney for El Valle de los Ranchos Water and Sanitation District in Ranchos de Taos. Prior to that, she had a private law practice, specializing in land use, real estate, and domestic relations, and she also worked as a domestic relations hearing officer for the 8th Judicial District Court. Backus also served as assistant town attorney for Taos. She is a graduate of Sacramento State University and earned her law degree at the University of California Hastings College of the Law.
Cooper is an attorney at the Alan Maestas Law Firm in Taos, working in civil litigation, criminal defense and tribal law. She has previously worked in the Taos office of the New Mexico Public Defender Department and worked as assistant county attorney in Ellis County, Kansas. Cooper graduated from Fort Hays State University and earned her law degree from the University of Kansas.