New Mexico has 54 Magistrate Courts within the state with sixty-seven judges presiding. These are limited jurisdiction courts, and they do hold both jury trials and bench trials (where the judge makes the decision). Magistrate Court judges are not required to be lawyers before taking the bench. They serve four-year terms and are elected in non-partisan elections. Each county must have at least one Magistrate Court judge by law, but some have more than one.
Magistrate Courts hear different types of civil and criminal cases such as tort cases, small claims up to $10,000, contract disputes, landlord/tenant issues of up to $10,000, preliminary felony hearings, misdemeanors, DWI/DUIs, and other traffic violations type cases.
New Mexico developed its Statewide Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Commission in 2011 to provide alternative methods of resolution for disputes. Mediation is a big part of this program.
New Mexico's Judicial Branch website has a listing of each Magistrate Court with address, phone number, and fax. They also have a search feature where users can find the Magistrate Court nearest to them.
Since many of the types of cases in Magistrate Court are self-represented, the court's website also has a ton of other useful resources for those individuals. They have all the forms necessary to file a motion, pay a ticket, or other common legal actions. They also list the procedures of the court. Each type of form is contained in a folder that relates to different types of legal issues such as civil cases, criminal matters, juvenile delinquency problems, appeals, excusable from jury duty, jury management, financial management, retention schedules, and other related issues.
For the last year tallied, Magistrate Courts saw a total of 160,066 cases. Of those, 56% were for traffic violations, 34% were for criminal offenses, and 10% were for civil actions.