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How do New Mexico Courts work?

The Supreme Court acts as the highest power in the state of New Mexico, and exists mainly to review the decisions made by the Court of Appeals. This allows the Supreme Court to weigh in when needed on conflicts, important questions of law, and precedents. The Court of Appeals in turns fulfils a similar role, overseeing the decisions made by lower courts after one party contests. These lower courts are made up of the 33 superior or trial courts located across New Mexico’s 33 counties.

Civil Cases and Small Claims

There are a number of key differences between the structure of a civil case and a small claims case. Civil cases refer to those in which a petitioner is seeking over $200,000 in New Mexico, of which there are nearly 250,000 per year. These can also include non-monetary disputes, such as restraining orders, name changes, and property disputes. On the other hand, small claims court deals with cases in which the petitioner is looking for $10,000 or under. These are not represented by counsel, and there are close to 100,000 per year. These can include disputes over warranties, deposits, repairs, loans, and more. The small claims court can order a defendant to do something, such as pay an amount of money.

Appeals and court limits

There are also a number of key differences between what is allowed in each court, including the appeals process and court limits. Small claims court does not allow pretrial discovery, where as civil court does. People can also have a lawyer represent them and file papers for them in civil court, but neither are allowed in small claims cases. Only the defendant can appeal a decision in small claims cases, where as either party can appeal in a civil matter. Small claims cases cost $30-$100 per claim, and each party is then given 30-70 days to complete their case. Civil court cases cost $180-$320 to file, with each party being given up to 120 days. In small claims court, you do not have to be a US citizen to file or defend, and people may hire an interpreter if their English is not very much.

Why are court records public?

The New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act was introduced in 1925, with the latest amendments coming in the 1990s. The act allows all members of the public to access public records. Any records maintained by either the state or local government may be accessed and copied by a member of the public, as is their fundamental right. This promotes a sense of transparency and safeguards the accountability of the government.

To access records:

Name: Supreme Court

Physical Address: 
237 Don Gaspar Avenue, Room 104
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
Phone: 505-827- 4860
Fax: 505-827- 4837


New Mexico Court Structure
New Mexico State Archives

State Archives

Contact: (505) 337-3578

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Results are based upon available information from state, county and municipal databases, and may not include some or all of the above details.

New Mexico

The New Mexico Union County Courthouse was first built in 1909.

  • The New Mexico court system has 7 different types of courts. They are the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the District Court, the Magistrate Court, the Municipal Court, the Probate Court, and the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court.
  • The New Mexico Supreme Court has 5 judicial positions. Each serves an 8 year term.
  • The New Mexico Supreme Court was founded in 1841, and is based in Santa Fe.
  • The New Mexico Court of Appeals has 10 sitting judges, which includes 1 chief justice.