SANTA FE – Over the next few months, there may well be two different people seated in a new judgeship that the Legislature created for the district which includes Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties.
Today, the non-partisan 1st Judicial District Nominating Commission will meet at the Santa Fe County courthouse to vet six applicants for appointment to the state District Court seat, which becomes a reality on July 1.
The applicants are Santa Fe County Magistrate Judge Donna Bevacqua-Young and lawyers Jennifer L. Attrep, Paul William Grace, Michael R. Jones, Yvonne K. Quintana and Michael Schwarz. Quintana, of Española, ran unsuccessfully for a different District Court judge position in the recent Democratic primary. The commission will send nominees from among this group to Gov. Susana Martinez, who is required to appoint someone within 30 days of receiving the list. The nominating commission usually gives the governor a couple of names to choose from for judicial vacancies.
But whoever gets the gubernatorial appointment may only have the job through the November general election. Under state law and New Mexico’s judicial selection rules, there must be an election for the new seat as part of the general election following its creation.
Saturday, Democratic Party’s State Central Committee members from the judicial district’s three counties will meet to choose a party nominee for judgeship. The party’s choice doesn’t have to be any of the applicants who put their name in the hat for the gubernatorial appointment.
The Journal has learned that three would-be Democratic party nominees – Quintana, Schwarz and current District Judge Matthew Wilson, who lost to Santa Fe attorney David Thomson in the June 3 primary – recently spoke to Rio Arriba Democrats about the post.
A Republican Party spokeswoman on Wednesday said party officials are in discussions over how the party will approach the judicial vacancy in the overwhelmingly Democratic district.