November 19, 2020

Commission chooses four potential choices for state Supreme Court slot

Andy Lyman

The New Mexico Supreme Court

The New Mexico Judicial Nomination Commission recommended a list of four names from which Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham can choose a replacement for Justice Judith Nakamura, who announced she retire, effective Dec. 1.

The commission chose the four applicants after interviews with each candidate on Thursday and closed-door discussion between members.

The names are former 12th Judicial District Court Judge James Waylon Counts, Sixth Judicial District Court Chief Judge Jennifer Ellen DeLaney, Court of Appeals Judge Julie J. Vargas and Court of Appeals Judge Briana Hope Zamora.

Lujan Grisham will choose one of the four names, and has 30 days to make her decision. In the rare case that she does not, she could ask the commission for additional names one time. 

The new justice would serve until the next general election, in 2022, when they would face reelection. This year, two justices, Democrats Shannon Bacon and David Thomson, won elections.New Mexico Supreme court justices serve eight year terms and stand for election after that.

Nakamura previously announced that she would leave earlier in the year, but delayed her retirement.

Nakamura is currently the only Republican statewide official in New Mexico.