New Mexico

State/Local Funding

  • The New Mexico Judiciary is primarily a state funded system. 
  • The state pays for the Appellate Courts and the Administrative Office of the Courts and for the salaries of trial court judges, support staff and clerical staff.  The state pays for technology equipment and the operating expenses for the courts.  Except for court facilities for general jurisdiction courts, local funding bodies provide no funding for courts.

State Revenue and Appropriations

  • New Mexico’s total state and federal grant appropriation was increased from $155 million in FY12 to $162.2 million in FY13.  The state general fund appropriation increased from $135.4 million to $141.8 million; the percent of the state general fund appropriation allocated to the Judiciary increased from 2.49% to 2.52%.
  • The FY13 budget includes $800,000 for IT infrastructure and security upgrades statewide.
  • Over the past four years, court fees increased 3%.
  • Over the past four years, technology funding remained the same.
  • The budget situation in the next three years is likely to improve.

Funding Principles for Judicial Administration

  • The Judicial Branch presents the Judiciary’s budget request directly to the Legislative body without prior approval by the Executive Branch. 
  • The Judicial Branch does not have budget authority to manage and administer appropriated funds without restrictions of detailed budget line items.  Judicial budgets contain too many line items and permission is required to move funds from one line to another.
  • The FY13 budget is not sufficient to enable the courts to provide or enhance necessary technology to meet the demands of the public.  The courts provide free electronic access to court dockets, but not to the actual documents.  The Judiciary needs funding to expand on-line assistance to self-represented litigants.
  • The introduction of technologies has enabled the courts and others to provide and receive enhanced court services.  Electronic filing is a boon to practicing attorneys.  Replacing the 20 year-old case management system allows the courts to operate more efficiently and thus provide better service to the public.

Steps Taken to Address Tough Economic Times

Staffing Levels:  Over the past four years, the number of judges has increased by 1%, the number of central office staff persons has increased 3% and the number of trial court staff persons has decreased 8%.  The FY13 budget increase has permitted hiring staff in positions left vacant for several years.  In FY13, trial court operating expenses will increase 3%.

Compensation:  Over the past four years, salaries of judges and court staff have been frozen and reduced.  Judges’ salaries are frozen again in FY13.

Service Reductions: 

  • Over the past four years, the New Mexico courts have reduced hours of operation and delayed filling judicial vacancies in the clerks’ offices.  They have delayed jury trials.  They are continuing to delay filling vacancies in the clerks’ offices.

Efficiency Measures:  The New Mexico courts have implemented and will continue to implement e-filing, an electronic document management system, an enhanced case management system, and electronic workflow.  In the coming year they will implement e-citations by law enforcement agencies and e-payment of fines and fees.

Restructuring:  The New Mexico courts have consolidated courthouses, consolidated clerk management positions, and reallocated staff.  They will continue to reallocate staff.

Business Processes:  The New Mexico courts have implemented and will continue to enhance their caseflow management program, “in-court updating” for docket entries and sentencing orders, videoconferencing of incarcerated defendants and remote videoconferencing of interpreters for persons with limited English proficiency.  They have transitioned to digital recording of court proceedings. 

Outsourcing: The New Mexico courts have outsourced the collection of fines.

Centralization:  The New Mexico courts have centralized jury qualification and summoning.

The New Mexico courts are in a better position than in FY09 to provide access and timely justice.  Technology improvements have been about 75% implemented since 2009 and appropriations have begun to rebound, from continued reductions in 2009 to a 4% increase this year.  If the budget situation continues to improve, the New Mexico Judiciary will use the increase funding to implement technology improvements and likely not hire to the same employee strength as before 2009.  The courts will improve pay for the fewer remaining employees.

Reports and Articles

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