HOUSE BILL 451
54th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2019
Paul C. Bandy and Steven P. Neville
RELATING TO THE COURTS; CREATING DISTRICT WATER COURTS; PROVIDING FOR ADDITIONAL JUDGESHIPS IN THE THIRD AND ELEVENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICTS; PROVIDING FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ADDITIONAL DISTRICT WATER COURTS, IN THE DISCRETION OF THE SUPREME COURT; MAKING APPROPRIATIONS.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. Section 34-6-6 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1968, Chapter 69, Section 9, as amended) is amended to read:
"34-6-6. JUDGES--THIRD JUDICIAL DISTRICT.--There shall be [eight] nine district judges in the third judicial district."
SECTION 2. Section 34-6-14 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1968, Chapter 69, Section 17, as amended) is amended to read:
"34-6-14. JUDGES--ELEVENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT.--There shall be [eight] nine district judges in the eleventh judicial district. The judges of divisions one, three, four, six and eight and the judge of the San Juan district water court shall reside and maintain their principal offices in San Juan county. The judges of divisions two, five and seven shall reside and maintain their principal offices in McKinley county."
SECTION 3. Section 38-3-9 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1985, Chapter 91, Section 1) is amended to read:
"38-3-9. PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE TO A DISTRICT JUDGE.--
A. A party to an action or proceeding, civil or criminal, including proceedings for indirect criminal contempt arising out of oral or written publications, except actions or proceedings for constructive and other indirect contempt or direct contempt shall have the right to exercise a peremptory challenge to the district judge before whom the action or proceeding is to be tried and heard, whether [he] the judge be the resident district judge or a district judge designated by the resident district judge, except by consent of the parties or their counsel. After the exercise of a peremptory challenge, that district judge shall proceed no further. Each party to an action or proceeding may excuse only one district judge pursuant to the provisions of this statute. In all actions brought under the [Workmen's] Workers' Compensation Act [(52-1-1 to 52-1-69 NMSA 1978)], the employer and the insurance carrier of the employer shall be treated as one party when exercising a peremptory challenge to the judge under this statute. The rights created by this section are in addition to any arising under Article 6 of the constitution of New Mexico.
B. The judges of the district water courts shall not be subject to peremptory challenges pursuant to this section when presiding over water cases."
SECTION 4. A new section of Chapter 34, Article 6 NMSA
1978 is enacted to read:
"[NEW MATERIAL] DISTRICT WATER COURTS.--
A. A district water court is established in each of the following judicial districts:
(1) the "lower Rio Grande district water court" is established in the third judicial district in Dona Ana county; and
(2) the "San Juan district water court" is established in the eleventh judicial district in San Juan county.
B. Additional district water courts may be established at the direction of the supreme court to facilitate the hearing of water cases in each major water basin in the state.
C. Each district water court shall be a civil court that shall hear all cases relating to water in the judicial district in which the district water court is located, as well as other civil cases. Each district water court shall give priority to water cases.
D. District water court judges shall be nominated,
appointed and elected in the same manner as other district judges.
E. Upon taking office, a district water court judge shall devote substantial time to the study of water law and other water-related subjects, especially as that study relates to the arid western regions of the United States. District water court judges may confer and consult with other district water court judges about issues of water law.
F. A district water court judge shall not permit ex parte communications, but a district water court judge may hold informal discussion and planning sessions that shall be open to all parties, members of the public and government agencies, with advance notice to the public.
G. A district water court judge's use of water, ownership of water rights or interest in property shall not require disqualification from water cases under Article 6, Section 18 of the constitution of New Mexico.
H. A district water court judge may request a special master, a district water court judge from another district or a judge appointed by the supreme court to hear particular matters when the district water court judge might be perceived to have a significant conflict of interest."
SECTION 5. TEMPORARY PROVISION--DISTRICT JUDGES-- APPOINTMENTS.--The additional district judgeships provided for in this 2019 act shall be filled by appointment by the governor pursuant to the provisions of Article 6 of the constitution of New Mexico.
SECTION 6. APPROPRIATIONS.--
A. The following amounts are appropriated from the general fund to the following agencies for expenditure in fiscal year 2020 for the following purposes:
(1) four hundred fifty thousand dollars ($450,000) to the third judicial district court for salaries and benefits and furniture, supplies and equipment for one additional district judge and support staff; and
(2) two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) to the eleventh judicial district court for salaries and benefits and furniture, supplies and equipment for one additional district judge and support staff.
B. Any unexpended or unencumbered balance remaining at the end of fiscal year 2020 shall revert to the general fund.
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