What does a magistrate judge do?

  • Administer oaths and affirmations and take acknowledgments of instruments in writing
  • Perform marriages
  • Civil actions where the debt or claim does not exceed $10,000
  • Civil jurisdiction extends to actions in contract, quasi-contract and tort, and where expressly conferred by law
  • Magistrates have jurisdiction in all cases of misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors, including offenses and complaints under ordinances of a county. Magistrates also have jurisdiction in any other criminal actions where jurisdiction is specifically granted by law, and they may hold preliminary examinations in any criminal action where authorized by law
  • Magistrate judges have jurisdiction over motor vehicle code violations


Magistrate Court is a court of limited original jurisdiction. The magistrate court is not a court of record. There is at least one magistrate court in each county, except in a class A county with a population of more than two hundred thousand persons in the last federal decennial census. The name of the magistrate district is the same as the name of the county in which it is located.


In magistrate districts where two or more divisions operate as a single court, the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts shall designate the “presiding magistrate” to perform duties prescribed by regulation of the Administrate Office of the Courts.


Each magistrate shall be a qualified elector of, and reside in, the magistrate district for which they are elected of appointed and be a high school graduate or have a certificate of equivalency.


Except as otherwise provided by law, magistrates shall be nominated and elected at large within each magistrate district at the primary and general elections. In magistrate districts having more than one magistrate, the separate offices shall be designated by division and, in all appointments to fill vacancies and in all nominations and elections to these offices, candidates shall be designated as appointed or elected to the office of magistrate of a specific division.


Magistrate judges shall serve four years.


Refer to: NMSA 1978, 35-1-2
35-1-3 through 35-1-35
14-13-3 and 14-14-3