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Gov. fills two judicial vacancies in Sandoval County

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — The 2nd Judicial District Court will soon begin a search for a new executive officer after the person who has served in that position since 2015 was appointed to a Sandoval County judgeship.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Friday that she has selected Jim Noel and Christopher Perez to fill vacancies created by the recent retirements of 13th Judicial District judges John Davis and Louis McDonald.

According to a news release announcing the appointments, Noel worked as Cabinet secretary for the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department under Gov. Bill Richardson. He has also served as executive director of the state Judicial Standards Commission, an assistant attorney general and general counsel for the Office of the State Auditor. He took over as court executive officer at the 2nd Judicial District Court in 2015.

Sidney Hill, a spokesman for the courthouse, said the CEO position will be posted, and applicants will be interviewed by a panel of judges and other court officials. The CEO manages all administrative functions of the court, including budgets and personnel.

“Everyone at the Second Judicial District Court is happy to see Jim receive this well-deserved appointment,” Chief Judge Stan Whitaker said. “Although he will be missed at this court, we know that he has long had the goal of being a judge, and we are glad to see that come to fruition.”

In an interview Monday, Noel said he is looking forward to his new role and will have responsibilities in both courthouses over the next week or so.

“It’s an honor to have been selected by the governor and to have the support of so many of my colleagues in this process,” he said.

Perez is from Bernalillo and graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Law. He has worked as a private lawyer for more than two decades, taking on civil and criminal cases in several jurisdictions, the Governor’s Office wrote in a news release.

He is following in the steps of his father, George Perez, who also served as a judge in the 13th District. According a 2014 Rio Rancho Observer story, Perez’s law firm provides legal services to the town of Bernalillo. He could not be reached for comment Monday.

A judicial nominating commission recommended Perez and Noel to the governor for consideration. In order to keep their positions, they will have to run for election this year.

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