Here are the Journal’s recommendations for voters in contested and retention elections for the New Mexico Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals:
Supreme Court — contested — Paul Kennedy
Justice Paul Kennedy has the broad and deep experience required to serve New Mexico on its highest court. An accomplished Albuquerque criminal defense and civil rights attorney, he has practiced law in New Mexico for more than 35 years. In addition to serving as a public defender early in his career and as a special prosecutor, Kennedy estimates he has tried more than 100 cases before a jury and handled more than 75 appeals.
A Republican, Kennedy was appointed to the high court by Gov. Susana Martinez earlier this year after Justice Patricio Serna retired. It is his second stint as a justice, having been appointed in 2002 by then-Gov. Gary Johnson to fill a vacancy. He decided not to stand for election that time around and says he feels he now has much to contribute to the making and shaping of state law.
Those contributions go beyond his exhaustive understanding of the law — Kennedy appreciates the crushing dockets of the state’s busiest courts and the cost in time and money delays place on taxpayers, defendants and victims. He says he will advocate for streamlining data entry and filings, as well as for having written opinions on every decision so the public knows what, how and why the court ruled.
The Journal recommends voters keep Paul Kennedy on the New Mexico Supreme Court.
Supreme Court — retention — Richard C. Bosson
Justice Richard C. Bosson has served with distinction on the New Mexico Supreme Court since December 2002. Before that, he was a judge on the state Court of Appeals for eight years, including two years as chief judge.
Bosson received his law degree in 1969 from Georgetown University Law Center and has been an active member of the New Mexico Bar since 1970.
The state Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission reports his bid for retention received very high marks from attorneys, court staff and appellate judges.
The Journal also recommends voters keep Richard C. Bosson on the Supreme Court.
Court of Appeals — contested — J. Miles Hanisee
Judge J. Miles Hanisee was appointed to a vacancy on the New Mexico Court of Appeals in July 2011 by Gov. Susana Martinez after being vetted and recommended by the state’s bipartisan Judicial Nominating Commission.
Prior to his appointment he was in private practice, working in the areas of civil and criminal defense law. Before entering private practice in 2007 he was a federal prosecutor for the New Mexico U.S. Attorney’s Office for 11 years, a position that gave him considerable experience of arguing cases before the U.S. 10th Circuit. He also worked for several U.S. Appeals Court judges drafting opinions.
Hanisee, a Republican, is a graduate of Pepperdine University School of Law and Louisiana State University and has been a member of the New Mexico Bar since 1994.
He says his philosophy is not to be on the bench as a super-legislator, but to be there to adhere to the constitution and prior case law.
Hanisee’s broad experience in various areas of the law, his career-spanning passion for the appellate process and his experience in opinion writing make him a good fit to continue on the appellate bench.
The Journal endorses J. Miles Hanisee for the New Mexico Court of Appeals.
Court of Appeals — retention — Michael Vigil
Judge Michael Vigil has been an appellate court judge since his appointment by Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson in 2003. He began practicing law in 1976 as a staff attorney for the state Court of Appeals, but went into private practice in 1979. He received his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1976.
The Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission reports that Vigil received positive ratings from attorneys for his conduct, demeanor and knowledge of the law. He also received high ratings from court staff and other judges.
The Journal recommends voters keep Michael Vigil on the Court of Appeals.
Court of Appeals — retention — Roderick T. Kennedy
Judge Roderick T. Kennedy has 23 years’ experience as a judge, including 11 years total on the Court of Appeals. His experience includes presiding in magistrate, metropolitan, tribal and district courts. Kennedy received his law degree from the University of Toledo.
Though his ratings by attorneys, court staff and other judges is mixed, the JPEC recommends his retention, stating that his overall performance is satisfactory and he is committed to improving his performance on areas such as timeliness of rulings and handling his workload.
The Journal recommends voters keep Roderick T. Kennedy on the Court of Appeals.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.