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New Mexico Judgement Records

Any civil action filed in the New Mexico Courts is settled with a formal judgment if the disputed matter is not dismissed or dropped. When the courts render a judgment, it is reduced to writing and documented in an official case file. Like most New Mexico court records, judgment records are available to the public under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA), and it carries details about the court case, case parties, and judgment.

ANew Mexico judgment record will bear the names of the litigants, the name of the presiding judicial authority and court, the date the judgment was entered, the remedy granted by the court, a concise statement of the case, an explanation for the court's decision, and the type of judgment, at the very least.

What is a Judgment?

A judgment is the final pronouncement of a court that settles a controversy. It states the rights and responsibilities of litigating parties (i.e., who wins and loses a lawsuit, and what the winner can receive as per the law).

There are different kinds of judgments that can be entered in a New Mexico civil case, including summary, stipulated (agreement), default, deficiency, money, and declaratory judgments. However, the relief granted to the winner will be monetary or non-monetary. That is, the court can either approve a dollar amount to be paid by the unsuccessful party or order the party to do or not do something (also called "equitable relief"). Finally, the judgment could expound on the rights of parties without awarding damages or equitable remedies.

New Mexico Judgment Laws

New Mexico enacts laws that guide how judgments are entered, executed, and appealed in the state. Most of these regulations are outlined in Chapter 39 of the New Mexico Statutes. Furthermore, the state's judicial branch establishes rules that govern judgments. These rules, plus the relevant laws, can be found in the Judgments and Writs book published by the judiciary.

What is Judgment Lien?

In most civil cases adjudicated by the New Mexico courts, one party is awarded monetary relief. After the court hands down this judgment, the creditor (winner of the suit) is responsible for ensuring the debtor (the losing party) complies with it. As the debtor may fail to pay up, the creditor can use a judgment lien—as one of several debt collection methods—to guarantee payment.

A judgment lien allows the creditor to recover the owed sum from the proceeds of the sale of the debtor's property. Creditors can place this lien on a person's property without their agreement or consent. While some states permit creditors to attach a judgment lien to real estate and personal property, New Mexico only permits real estate attachments.

What is a New Mexico Summary Judgment?

In New Mexico, a summary judgment is the final decision of a court delivered in favor of a litigant without a full trial. This judgment type can be entered on the motion of any party to a suit, and it is used when no issues require a trial to resolve, and one side is entitled to a judgment by law. Apart from rendering a summary judgment that settles the whole case, the courts can also issue a partial summary judgment that decides some matters and leaves the rest for trial.

Often, parties will move for a summary judgment to reduce litigation costs and achieve a speedy case disposition.

What is a Summary Judgment Motion in New Mexico?

A summary judgment motion is a request to a court to render a judgment in one's favor. While a plaintiff or defendant may seek a summary judgment in New Mexico, they must have the legal grounds to do so or risk the court denying their motion.

Generally, the moving party must be able to demonstrate that the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, plus any affidavits, reveal that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law" (Rule 1-056 NMRA). This simply means that, so long as a trial is not required to settle a case and one side merits a win, the court can grant a motion for summary judgment.

New Mexico Judgment Record Search

Judgment records are open to the public under New Mexico's FOIA (Freedom of Information) laws and the Supreme Court's Case Access Policy for Online Court Records. Therefore, interested persons can track down judgment records at the courthouses and through online access platforms.

To carry out a New Mexico judgment record search on the internet, an individual can visit the courts' Case Lookup and Secured Odyssey Public Access (SOPA) sites. Access to the Case Lookup site is free, but a user ID and password are required for SOPA.

More information on using both sites can be obtained from the court's Public Access Help page. However, on Case Lookup, an individual can find out if a judgment has been entered in a case, the date it was entered, the type of judgment, the case parties, and the presiding judge.

How Do I Look Up a Judgment in New Mexico?

An individual who wants to look up a judgment in New Mexico can visit the District Court, Magistrate Court, or the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court where the judgment was entered, apart from using the remote access platforms specified above.

At the courthouse, the individual can go to the court clerk's office or relevant record viewing room to request the judgment. Court locations (by county and judicial district), street addresses, and phone numbers can be found using the map and directory provided by the New Mexico judicial branch.

Furthermore, requesters can fill and submit an Online Request Form embedded on the judiciary's Public Record Request web page. Per the law, the requester must provide both personal (name, physical address, phone number) and case information (e.g., case number) in the form to obtain the judgment.

What Happens if You Have a Judgment Against You in New Mexico?

After a judge hears evidence in a civil case, he or she will render a judgment for the disputing parties based on that evidence. The party who lost the case becomes the _judgment debtor_and must comply with the court's final order.

If the judgment granted was for a monetary award, the debtor is legally mandated to pay what is owed to the judgment creditor (the prevailing party). Prompt payment is advisable to avoid further repercussions such as debt recovery actions, accrued interest, and the assessment of additional costs (e.g., collection and attorney costs).

How Do I Find Out if I Have Any Judgments Against Me in New Mexico?

Ordinarily, an individual will be notified by mail if a judgment is entered against them in New Mexico. However, it is not always that a person will receive this notice.

A scenario where the notice might fail to reach the judgment debtor is when the person unintentionally disposes of the mail. If suspecting that a judgment may have been entered against one's name, an individual can attempt to contact the court clerk for information (if aware of the court where the judgment was entered). Another option is to search for a record of the judgment using the Case Lookup and Secured Odyssey Public Access (SOPA) tools offered by the Judicial Branch.

Failing this, one other way that an individual can find out if a judgment has been entered against them is when they become subject to debt collection acts, such as property executions, the seizure of non-exempt assets, and wage garnishments.

In the past, a person would have been able to check their credit report for active judgments. Presently, the three main credit bureaus do not include civil judgments in consumer credit reports due to changes in credit reporting policies,

How Long Does a Judgment Stay on Your Record?

A judgment is only valid for a while in New Mexico. Even though the judgment becomes unenforceable after the deadline passes, the law permits a judgment creditor to renew the judgment before it lapses if it has not been satisfied. However, regardless of whether a judgment is active or not, it remains in the issuing court's case file permanently—even if the file is eventually sealed by court order.

As stated earlier, civil judgments do not appear on a person's credit report anymore per the National Consumer Assistance Plan (NCAP). Notwithstanding, it is not illegal for a civil judgment to show up on a credit report, only that NCAP makes it hard for the credit bureaus to include it. Per NCAP, bureaus must update/verify a judgment record at least once every 90 days, and the record should bear the consumer's name, address, and date of birth or Social Security Number for it to be displayed on one's credit report. As such, a civil judgment that satisfies these requirements can appear on a person's credit report.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a civil judgment can remain on a person's credit report for seven years from the entry date or until the statute of limitations expires, whichever is longer. This means that any judgment that appears on one's credit report can stay there until it is satisfied or legally expires. However, in some instances, the judgment may fall off after seven years, even when unsatisfied. Nevertheless, the debtor will still be liable for the debt and to the creditor's actions to collect it.

How to Enforce a Judgment in New Mexico

An individual or business who wins a judgment in New Mexico has the right to begin enforcement procedures if the losing side fails to satisfy the judgment. Even if the judgment was rendered in another state or foreign jurisdiction, it could still be enforced in New Mexico, so long as the state laws recognize it as enforceable.

In the state, enforcing a judgment means that the creditor will try to recover the debt by taking specific legal actions—either personally or through a court, collection agency, lawyer, or sheriff—and often against the debtor's non-exempt property. For instance, the creditor can garnish the debtor's wages or put a lien on the debtor's real property.

How to Collect a Judgment in New Mexico

New Mexico considers "Collecting a judgment" as enforcing it, and vice versa. As a result, both terms refer to the same thing: the actions a creditor takes to satisfy a money judgment when a debtor fails to pay up.

Naturally, judgments give creditors a more effective method to collect debts. Here are some tactics that creditors frequently use:

  • Taking the money from the judgment debtor's income (if the party is employed)
  • Freezing the debtor's bank account
  • Placing a lien on the debtor's real estate (land, home) or on a lawsuit to which the debtor is party
  • Seizing personal property
  • Suspending the debtor's professional or driver's license
  • Drawing up a payment plan for the debtor

What Happens if a Defendant Does Not Pay a Judgment in New Mexico?

Attempting to dodge paying a judgment or just plain ignoring it only serves to aggravate an already unpleasant situation. In New Mexico, a defendant who does not pay a judgment will most likely become a target of debt collection actions. State law allows judgment creditors to take money from judgment debtors, and this does not require the debtor's permission or willingness. As such, a defendant's property may be seized and sold, their wages garnished, or bank account levied to ensure the satisfaction of a judgment.

Moreover, all judgments entered in New Mexico accumulate interest annually. This means that for each day the defendant sidesteps the payment obligation, a percentage will be assessed on the principal judgment amount. Hence, the defendant will be mandated to pay not only the owed amount but also any accrued interest.

Lastly, the creditor might petition the court to order the defendant to reimburse them for reasonable costs spent while collecting the judgment.

What Personal Property Can Be Seized in a Judgment in New Mexico?

New Mexico's civil laws permit judgment creditors (the winners of lawsuits) to seize the personal property of judgment debtors (the losers) to satisfy a judgment. However, creditors do not have a blanket authority to take any personal property. Some properties are exempted from execution under federal and state laws (Sections 42-10-1 through 42-10-7 of the New Mexico Statutes Annotated), including:

  • Tools of a trade valued at $1,500
  • A motor vehicle valued at $4,000
  • Any jewelry amounting to $2,500
  • Personal property other than money valued at $500
  • Clothing, books, and furniture
  • Personal medical-health equipment
  • Any interest in or proceeds from a retirement fund or pension
  • Life, accident, and health insurance benefits, etc.

New Mexico Judgment Interest Rate

According to N.M. Stat. Ann. § 56-8-4, the standard interest rate on a money judgment in New Mexico is 8¾% (eight and three-quarters percent) per year unless:

  • The judgment was passed in a case involving bad faith, tortious conduct, or intentional/willful acts. In this case, the interest rate is 15%.
  • The judgment is rendered on a written contract where a different interest rate is specified. In this instance, the interest rate will not be higher than that stated in the contract.

New Mexico and its political subdivisions are exempt from these interest rates, except otherwise indicated by statute or common law.

What is a Default Judgment?

When any civil case is brought to a New Mexico court, the parties involved (the plaintiff and defendant) become bound to the court's jurisdiction until the case reaches its ending, whether that be by dismissal, withdrawal, or the entry of a judgment. As such, parties must appear, respond to any court summons, or obey the court's order when mandated or risk incurring the penalties that can be applied by law. One such penalty is a "default judgment."

The court can render a default judgment when a defendant fails to appear, file an answer, or otherwise respond to a court proceeding. This type of judgment is entered on the motion of the plaintiff. If granted, the default judgment can award the plaintiff the total amount they requested, including damages, filing and service fees, attorney fee and interest (if allowed), and witness fees. However, given that a default judgment is not obtained on the merits, the defendant can ask the court to set it aside, provided there is a reasonable excuse for the default.

How to File a Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment in New Mexico

Sued parties who fail to appear or plead can be punished with the entry of a default judgment in New Mexico. However, they may be able to file a motion to set aside the judgment, so long as they do so within statutory time limits.

A defendant has only thirty days from the date of judgment to move to set aside a default judgment, and the court can grant this motion if:

  • The party has an adequate defense, and
  • No appeal procedures have been commenced.

The form to file this motion can be obtained from the court clerk's office, but it may be available online. For instance, individuals filing with the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court can download Form CV-030 from the court's forms web page.

File Motion to Vacate Judgment in New Mexico

Case parties are allowed to file a motion to vacate (cancel) a judgment in New Mexico. However, to obtain this post-judgment relief, one must put forth a sufficient reason that persuades the issuing court to cancel the judgment. Simply asserting that the judgment is unfavorable does not qualify as a basis for vacating a judgment in the state.

New Mexico adopts Rule 60 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in determining the legal grounds upon which parties can file a motion to vacate. (See Rules 1-060, 2-703, and 3-704 NMRA). Accordingly, there are at least six reasons why a New Mexico court would free someone from a judgment:

  1. The judgment is void.
  2. Mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect.
  3. New evidence was discovered, and it could not have been found in time to move for a new trial.
  4. Misrepresentation, fraud, or other misconduct of an opposing party.
  5. The judgment has been released, satisfied, or discharged, or a previous judgment on which the current one is founded has been overturned or otherwise vacated, or the judgment has no prospective application.
  6. Any other grounds upon which relief from judgment can be granted.

The relevant form can be obtained from the court clerk. Note that a motion to vacate must be filed within a reasonable time. However, citing grounds (2), (3), or (4), the deadline is within one year of the judgment.

How to Remove a Transcript of Judgment in New Mexico

When a judgment debtor fails to satisfy a judgment, the creditor can attach a lien to the party's real property by filing a transcript of judgment with the county clerk of the county where the property lies or may lie in the future. This allows the creditor to recover the owed sum from the proceeds gotten from the property’s sale.

Any lien established by recording a transcript of judgment remains on a debtor's property for 14 years (N.M. Stat. Ann. § 39-1-6). Within the given statutory limitations, only the judgment creditor can release the lien by filing a Satisfaction of Judgment with the court—provided the debtor satisfies or discharges the debt.

Then again, if the method used to obtain the lien was improper, illegal, or fraudulent, the debtor can petition the court to remove the lien or transcript of judgment. Finally, the debtor can ask the court to vacate the judgment and release the lien. However, the conditions surrounding the judgment and the time that has passed from the judgment's entry play a vital role in determining if the request will be approved.

How Long is a Judgment Good for in New Mexico

New Mexico judgments are good for fourteen years from their entry date and cannot be renewed. Once the 14-year deadline lapses, the judgment becomes unenforceable, and creditors lose the legal right to collect any unsatisfied debt.

New Mexico Judgment Statute of Limitations Law

The statute of limitations law governing the enforceability of New Mexico's court judgments is codified as N.M. Stat. Ann. § 37-1-2.