Kerry Morris has never been a judge before, but he’s vying for a spot on the state’s highest court.
Morris, a Republican, is challenging incumbent David Thomson. Thomson, a Democrat, was appointed to the Supreme Court last year by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and must prevail in the general election to keep his seat.
Morris, who grew up in Albuquerque and attended Del Norte High School, held various jobs before he settled on practicing law, including running a restaurant Downtown and working as a stock broker. It was the clientele at his restaurant, which happened to be near the courthouse, who nudged him to become a lawyer.
“At a certain point, you kind of have to grow up,” Morris said on his decision to go to law school. “When I had the restaurant across from the courthouse, all the lawyers and judges ate there. I liked the suits, and some of the lawyers encouraged me to go to law school.”
Morris has been in private practice since 1986 and says he will bring experience from his lengthy legal career to the Supreme Court.
“I think it’s time to stop practicing law and start doing the law,” Morris said. “The Supreme Court will give me a chance to make decisions based on my experience that will benefit the people of New Mexico.”
Thomson was born and raised in Santa Fe, and earned his law degree from the University of Denver. After law school, he worked as a clerk for a U.S. District Court judge in Albuquerque before working for the state Attorney General’s Office.
After losing a race for a seat in the 1st Judicial District Court in Santa Fe in 2010, Thomson worked in private practice until he was elected to the 1st Judicial District Court in 2014. He remained there until he was appointed to the Supreme Court in March 2019.
While on the District Court bench in Santa Fe, Thomson ruled that the state’s previous 450-plant limit for medical marijuana producers was arbitrary and capricious, and ordered the Department of Health to come up with a new plant limit that better suited the state’s growing number of medical marijuana patients. The state later implemented a 1,750-plant limit.
Thomson said his experience as a trial court judge makes him valuable to the Supreme Court.
“It’s the top of the court system,” Thomson said. “You need people with experience, especially during a crisis.”