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District judges elevated to New Mexico high court

January 26, 2019 GMT

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday appointed David K. Thomson of Santa Fe and C. Shannon Bacon of Albuquerque to fill New Mexico Supreme Court vacancies created by the retirements of Justices Charles W. Daniels and Petra Jimenez Maes.

Both appointees had been serving as state District Court judges.

“Justices Bacon and Thomson are eminently qualified jurists who have earned the broad respect of their peers, accrued decades of extensive and varied experience, and demonstrated a consistent fidelity to justice in our state,” the governor said. “They are fair, trustworthy, intellectually rigorous and conscientious judges.”

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They will join Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura and Justices Michael E. Vigil and Barbara J. Vigil on the five-member court, which reviews cases involving life sentences, hears appeals from the state Court of Appeals and supervises and disciplines judges and lawyers in the state’s lower courts.

Both appointees are Democrats, making Nakamura the lone Republican on the high court.

Administrative Office of the Courts spokesman Barry Massey said Thomson and Bacon will take office as soon as they can wrap up their current duties — likely in the next few weeks.

They’ll have to win election to their posts in 2020 to remain on the bench.

Thomson, 50, has been a First Judicial District judge since 2014, presiding primarily over civil cases. He was a sole practitioner in Santa Fe for about four years before becoming a judge.

Thomson worked in the state Attorney General’s office for ten years before that, four of those years as director of the Litigation Division. The New Mexico native started his career as legislative aide for now-retired U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman.

The Santa Fe High School graduate earned a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., and his law degree from the University of Denver. He clerked under Judge Bruce D. Black of the U.S. District Court of New Mexico.

Thomson was among 14 applicants for the position before a nominating commission narrowed the field to seven nominees for consideration by the governor.

“You have to really evaluate your abilities and skills and put yourself out there,” Thomson said of the process, “and it’s very humbling, quite frankly.”

Bacon, 47, since 2010 has been a judge in the Second Judicial District, where she was presiding judge for the civil division and handled water cases. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law, where she teaches evidence and trial practice.

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Before working in the public sector the New Mexico native was a partner in the Albuquerque law firms of Sutin, Thayer & Browne, P.A. and Eaves, Bardacke, Baugh, Kierst & Larson.

Bacon graduated from St. Pius X High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree and law degree from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.

“I’m beyond thrilled and completely humbled,” Bacon said Friday. “And I cannot wait to continue my service for New Mexicans and now do it statewide. It’s very exciting and the culmination of a lot of hard work.”

Bacon said her work on the Supreme Court’s Adult Guardianship and Conservatorship Steering Committee and efforts to bring pro-bono legal services to low-income areas of the sate may have helped distinguish her from other nominees.

The new justices will be paid about $140,000 a year.