New Mexico Court Records
How Does The Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court?
The Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court is a specialized court serving the metropolitan areas of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Bernalillo County. This court is a limited jurisdiction court that combines and performs the functions of the Albuquerque Municipal Court, Bernalillo County Magistrate Court, and Bernalillo County Small Claims Court.
In the state of New Mexico, the court handles criminal cases of petty crimes and misdemeanor crimes punishable by up to one year in county jail and associated monetary fines of up to $1000. The court’s civil division addresses civil actions of up to $10,000 in dispute. Individuals convicted of misdemeanors or sentenced to less than a year in the metropolitan court are incarcerated in the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC), the county jail facility.
Examples of cases handled in the metropolitan court include;
- Traffic violations and infractions such as DWIs/DUIs
- Cases of domestic violence
- Contract disputes
- Felony first appearances and preliminary examination hearings
- Landlord/tenant disputes
- Small claims
- Most violations of county and municipal ordinances
However, this court does not have jurisdiction over certain cases, including domestic relations and property disputes. The Court shares jurisdiction over preliminary felony hearings and most misdemeanor criminal cases with New Mexico District Courts. The metropolitan court holds jury or bench trials depending on the parties’ demands, the type of legal action, and the offense’s penalty. Parties interested in civil actions in the court can also request a trial by jury.
Criminal actions typically resolved by a bench trial (by a judge) include those that can be disposed of by a fine, forfeiture of license, or if the consequent incarceration time does not exceed 90 days. Defendants in more serious criminal offenses have a right to a jury trial unless the right is waived.
The Metropolitan court has various specialty courts and programs that solve specific issues or disorders, provide intensive court-monitored probation, and compulsory treatment to individuals that require them. These include;
- DWI/Drug Court
- Behavioral Health Court
- Behavioral Health DWI Court
- Community Veterans Court
- Competency Court
- Courts to School
- Domestic Violence Early Intervention Program
- Domestic Violence Solutions Treatment Education Program,
- Outreach Court
- Pre-Adjudication Animal Welfare Court
- Substance Use and Treatment Options Program (STOP)
- Urban Native American Healing to Wellness Court
The Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court has nineteen judges that serve in the court divisions;16 in the Criminal Division and 3 in the Civil Division. Typically, limited jurisdiction courts in New Mexico do not require the judges to be attorneys. Still, in the metropolitan court system, no individual will qualify to be a judge without being a member of the New Mexico Bar or have at least three years of practical law experience.
Metropolitan judges are appointed, elected, and eventually retained for four-year terms according to Article 6 of the State constitution. The Metropolitan Court Judges Nominating Committee accepts and reviews all applications to fill the vacancies of the metropolitan judges. The governor fills the vacancies by appointing qualified individuals from the committee’s list of qualified candidates. The appointed judges serve until the next general election, where such judges will have to contest in partisan elections to continue or cease their service. The metropolitan court operates a different judicial selection system because there are no term limits, provided the judges win affirmative retention votes in retention elections. The Metropolitan court must also have a Chief Judge who assigns or designates each metropolitan judge to a court division.
Members of the public may inspect the public records maintained by the metropolitan court pursuant to the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act. However, records deemed confidential and exempted or sealed by law are not subject to public inspection. Such records may include records of physical or mental examinations and certain sensitive financial records. Inquirers seeking public records must provide the court administrator with name, address, telephone number, and reasonably specific details of the records being sought. Generally, members of the public may review or copy Metropolitan Court public records by visiting the Records Viewing Room on the 1st floor of the Courthouse, sending an email request, or sending a written request to:
Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court
c/o Records Custodian
401 Lomas Boulevard. NW
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102
Phone: (505) 841–8106, (505) 841–8151
Fax: (505) 222–4800, (505) 222–4831
If the requested record is enclosed in a criminal or civil court case file, or if individuals want to obtain a CD copy of a court proceeding, they must complete the Request for Copy of Court Record form. Requesters should note that the Bernalillo Metropolitan Court does not provide records beyond its jurisdiction, such as family law or domestic relations cases. Inquirers may call the court ahead to acquire information on records obtainable at the court administrator’s office.