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Friday, January 24, 2003

N.M. Chief Justice Pleads for Budget Increases

Journal Wire Report
    SANTA FE The chief justice of the state Supreme Court, Petra Jimenez Maes, appealed to lawmakers on Thursday to support court system requests for budget increases.
    "It is time for New Mexico to make a greater investment in the judiciary, to appropriately support the third branch of government," Maes said in her "state of the judiciary" speech to a joint session of the House and Senate.
    Maes is the first Hispanic woman chief justice of a state Supreme Court in the United States. She was elected unanimously by the justices earlier this month.
    Maes told lawmakers that "our courts are in serious need of adequate resources to fulfill our constitutional mandate to maintain justice."
    The Legislative Finance Committee, in a budget report released earlier this month, said the judicial branch "has experienced an average 68.5 percent growth in its appropriations" from the 1995 to 2003 fiscal years.
    That's almost 50 percent more than the growth rate of the state's general budget account during the same period, according to the LFC report.