SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – Justice Michael Vigil has taken over as New Mexico’s top judge. Vigil was sworn in for a two-year term as chief justice on Wednesday after he was selected by his colleagues on the five-member New Mexico Supreme Court.
“I am honored and humbled by the confidence my colleagues have placed in me to lead the Judiciary during the midst of a deadly pandemic,” Chief Justice Vigil said in a press release Wednesday. “There is much to be done, but my first priority is to continue the work we have started to keep our courts open for business, and at the same time, endeavor to protect the health and safety of everyone entering our courts — employees, jurors, judges, attorneys, parties, witnesses, and members of the public. In this way, we will be doing our part as the third branch of our government to protect constitutional rights and administer justice in a safe manner.”
The chief justice presides over Supreme Court hearings and is the top administrative officer for the New Mexico judiciary, including personnel and budgets. He says in a statement that his first priority is to work on keeping courts open during the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping courthouse staff and visitors healthy.
Vigil joined the high court in 2018 after 15 years as a judge of the state Court of Appeals. Vigil graduated from Santa Fe High School, the College of Santa Fe and Georgetown University Law Center. He takes over as chief justice from Judith Nakamura, who remains on the court but plans to retire later this year.