Gina Manfredi will be the first woman to serve as a Sandoval County district court judge following the governor’s appointment Wednesday.
She will serve at least through the fall, as state central committee members from each major party are expected to soon select their party’s nominee for November.
Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, announced her selection of Manfredi, a Democrat and an assistant city attorney with the City of Rio Rancho since 2007, from three names forwarded to her a month ago by a judicial nominating commission.
Manfredi said she starts the job on Aug. 4 and hopes to soon have a date for her investiture ceremony.
Court Administrator Jamie Goldberg said Manfredi will be assigned to Division 8 and become the domestic relations judge at the judicial complex in Sandoval County. She will take over those cases of Judge John F. Davis, who will shift to hearing civil cases.
The new judge graduated from Raton High School in 1992, earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1996 from Texas Tech University and obtained her law degree from the University of New Mexico in 2000.
Between 2000 and 2007, Manfredi worked at the district attorney offices in Bernalillo and Albuquerque as an assistant district attorney and then senior trial attorney.
Since 2007, Manfredi has been the city’s sole prosecutor, practicing in municipal court and handling all appeals. She also trains police officers and helps the police department prepare standard operating procedures and various forms and releases.
“As I become a more-experienced lawyer, I find myself feeling less interested in the adversarial nature of counsel, and more challenged by finding legal solutions to cases,” she said in her application to the judicial nominating commission.
She knows something about finding solutions. Two years ago, she joined the CrossFit HellBox, a local gym started by Shelby Smith before he joined the city council. On the website for his business, she credits him and his staff with helping her lose over 100 pounds.
Brenda Ortiz, an administrative assistant for Chief Judge Louis P. McDonald, said Manfredi is the first woman to serve as a district court judge in Sandoval County, although female judges serve in the local magistrate court and in nearby counties.
The addition of a fourth district court judge to Sandoval County will place some strain on the local judicial complex, which contains three courtrooms and various smaller rooms. Goldberg said he will let Manfredi use his office for her chambers.
Judge George P. Eichwald and his colleagues on the local district court bench will no longer have assigned courtrooms, Goldberg said. He will have to prioritize hearings based on space needs.
The Sandoval County Commission will likely approve in August a bond question for the November ballot that would ask the voters to approve funds for an expansion to the judicial complex, according to county spokesman Sidney Hill.
Manfredi may hold the position for just about three months.
State laws outline the steps for when a vacancy occurs following the June primary election. For state positions, the central committees of the major parties have to meet and select which individual will appear on the general election ballot.
In interviews Thursday, Manfredi first expressed excitement about her new job and then anxiety as she realized she would have to prevail at a vote this weekend or lose the right to run for office this fall.
According to the Democratic Party of New Mexico, nearly 40 state central committee members from Cibola, Sandoval and Valencia counties, which comprise the local judicial district, are eligible to attend a July 12 committee meeting.
Local and state Democratic officials indicated several candidates were expected to show up Saturday and compete with Manfredi for the party’s nomination.
The state central committee of the New Mexico GOP will meet July 21 and select a Republican, who will appear on the ballot next to the Democrat who emerges victorious from the July 12 meeting.