The New Mexico Supreme Court is the State's highest court and final
court of review (court of last resort). In addition to reviewing
decisions of lower courts, the Supreme Court, as the head of the
Judicial Branch of Government, has general administrative and supervisory
authority over all State courts and attorney regulation. The Court
has authority to discipline attorneys and judges for professional
misconduct and unethical behavior.
The Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear direct appeals in criminal
cases in which the trial court imposed a life sentence or the death
penalty or granted a petition for writ of habeas corpus, in all
cases from the Public Regulation Commission, and election challenges.
In its discretion, the Court may issue writs of certiorari, mandamus,
prohibition, and superintending control. After a case is accepted
by the Court, the parties submit written briefs that put forth the
legal arguments and citations of authority to support those arguments.
The records, proceedings, and exhibits from the trial court are
reviewed at the same time as the briefs. Some cases are submitted
to the Court on oral argument and some are submitted only on the
The work of authoring opinions is divided evenly and randomly among
the five Justices. After a case is submitted to the Court, the Court
first discusses the case before the assigned author drafts an opinion
that will be circulated among the other Justices. Adoption of an
opinion, decision, or order requires the votes of three members
of the Court. In certain cases, a member of the Court may decide
to file a specially concurring opinion or a dissenting opinion.
It is the majority opinion of the Court, however, that determines
the law of the case.