CHAPTER 34
MUNICIPAL COURT Revised 10/19

Section

34.01    Jurisdiction

34.02    Municipal Judge

34.03    Alternate Judge

34.04    Judicial ethics and standards

34.05    Records, deposits and reports

34.06    Penalties and fines; bonds Revised 9/19 Revised 10/19

34.01 JURISDICTION.

(A) The municipal court has exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses and complaints under the code and ordinances of the city and may issue subpoenas and warrants and punish for contempt. (’87 Code, § 5-1-1)

(B) Actions of the court may be appealed to district court by the defendant or the city as plaintiff. (’87 Code, § 5-1-2)

(Ord. 82-31; Am. Ord. 90-006; Am. Ord. 94-009; Am. Ord. 97-020)

34.02 MUNICIPAL JUDGE.

(A) The Municipal Judge must be a registered voter, over 21 years of age, and a resident of the city and shall continually retain residence within the city throughout his term of office. (’87 Code, § 5-2-1)

(B)(1) Effective from the date the Municipal Judge takes the oath of office in 2018, the Municipal Judge shall receive an annual salary of $70,000.

(2) Beginning with the 2022 municipal election for Municipal Judge and thereafter, one year prior to the regular municipal election day where the office of the Municipal Judge, a four-year term, shall be voted on, the Governing Body shall review the annual Municipal Judge salary. If the Governing Body, by majority vote, decides to adjust the annual salary for the Municipal Judge, it shall do so no later than 11 months prior to the regular municipal election day where the office of Municipal Judge shall be voted on. The adjusted Municipal Judge salary shall become effective for the applicable Municipal Judge term (the oath of office day beginning a four-year term).

(3) The Municipal Judge shall have the option to participate in any city-sponsored life insurance and health insurance programs on the same conditions and terms as any other city employee.

(4) The annual salary of the Municipal Judge shall not be increased or decreased during their respective term of office.

(’87 Code, § 5-3-1)

(C) The Municipal Judge shall be elected for a term of four years. (’87 Code, § 5-3-2)

(D) The Municipal Judge shall serve as the judicial branch of the city and shall:

(1) Hear and decide the case of any person accused of violating a municipal ordinance;

(2) Dismiss or pass judgment upon all cases heard;

(3) Impose or suspend an appropriate sentence not to exceed the limits of fines and imprisonments provided by NMSA § 3-17-1 upon persons found guilty, pleading nolo contendere (no contest) to the charge of violating a municipal ordinance, or place the person on probation for a period not exceeding one year on terms and conditions as the court deems best, provided that the suspension of sentence or probation, or both, shall be granted only when the Municipal Judge is satisfied it will serve the ends of justice and the public, and that the defendant’s liability for any fine or other punishment imposed is fully discharged upon successful completion of the terms and conditions of probation.

(4) Issue subpoenas and warrants to carry out the duties of the court; and

(5) Punish for contempt of court.

(’87 Code, § 5-4-1)

(E) The Municipal Judge shall:

(1) Maintain the records and issue the documents as are required by state statutes or regulations of the Administrative Office of the Courts;

(2) Not later than the tenth day of each month, submit to the governing body a written record of all money collected during the previous month, which shall include an itemized statement of the amount collected, the name of the person paying, and the date of payment;

(3) Not later than the tenth day of each month turn over to the City Treasurer all money collected the previous month;

(4) Annually, unless exempted by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, complete a training course approved by the Administrative Office of the Courts;

(5) Regularly schedule court hearings in the municipal court at times as will least inconvenience all parties concerned. In the event the Municipal Judge does not provide for a reasonable schedule of hearings, the governing body shall establish a reasonable minimum schedule by ordinance; and

(6) Be available at all reasonable hours for the issuance of warrants and summons.

(’87 Code, § 5-4-2)

(F) The Judge shall conduct all hearings and business of the court in accordance with the Procedures for Municipal Courts, published by the New Mexico Supreme Court. (’87 Code, § 5-5-1)

(G) The Judge shall establish internal procedures for conducting the business of the court not in conflict with the Procedures for Municipal Courts and the Code of Judicial Conduct, as he shall from time to time consider appropriate. The procedures shall be made available to all interested parties and to the public. (’87 Code, § 5-5-2)

(H) The governing body shall by ordinance and budget resolution provide support staff and clerical assistance as is justified by the case load of the court. The Judge shall assign and supervise the work of employees assigned to the municipal court. The Judge has authority to establish rules for municipal court personnel. (’87 Code, § 5-5-3)

(I) In the event that the Municipal Judge resigns, is removed, dies or ceases residence within the municipality, the Mayor with the advice and consent of a majority of all members of the City Council shall declare the office of the Municipal Judge vacant. The Mayor with the advice and consent of a majority of all members of the City Council shall appoint a qualified elector of the municipality to serve until the next regular municipal election, at which time a Municipal Judge shall be elected for a term of four years. (’87 Code, § 5-8-1)

(Ord. 82-31; Am. Ord. 90-006; Am. Ord. 94-009; Am. Ord. 97-020; Am. Ord. 16-22)

34.03 ALTERNATE JUDGE.

(A)(1) The Mayor, with the advice and consent of a majority of the members of the City Council, shall appoint a qualified elector of the municipality to serve as acting, alternate Municipal Judge in the absence of the elected Municipal Judge.

(2) The alternate Municipal Judge shall exercise all powers and perform all duties of the Municipal Judge until the return of the Municipal Judge. (’87 Code, § 5-9-1)

(B) The alternate Municipal Judge must be a registered voter of the city and shall continually retain residency within the city throughout his term of office pursuant to the requirements of NMSA § 35-14-5. (’87 Code, § 5-9-2)

(C) The alternate Municipal Judge shall receive compensation of $175 per session, for each session the alternate judge serves as acting Municipal Judge. (’87 Code, § 5-9-3)

(Ord. 82-31; Am. Ord. 90-006; Am. Ord. 94-009; Am. Ord. 97-020; Am. Ord. 06-39)

34.04 JUDICIAL ETHICS AND STANDARDS.

(A) In trial proceedings, the Municipal Judge shall be guided by the Rules of Procedure for Municipal Courts and the New Mexico Benchbook, issued by the New Mexico Supreme Court. (’87 Code, § 5-10-1)

(B) The public and private actions of the Municipal Judge shall be governed by the Code of Judicial Conduct issued by the New Mexico Supreme Court, except for those provisions specifically made inapplicable to municipal judges. (’87 Code, § 5-10-2)

(C) A Municipal Judge may be investigated and disciplined, removed or retired, by order of the Supreme Court upon recommendation of the Judicial Standards Commission, as provided in Article VI, § 32, of the New Mexico Constitution and NMSA §§ 34-10-1 through 34-10-4. (’87 Code, § 5-10-3)

(Ord. 82-31; Am. Ord. 90-006; Am. Ord. 94-009; Am. Ord. 97-020)

34.05 RECORDS, DEPOSITS AND REPORTS.

(A)(1) The court shall maintain a record of all citations and complaints received and of their disposition, together with all legal instruments issued, all pleas and motions entered and any other documents or legal actions pertinent to each case. The retention and disposal of all records, files, citations, complaints, warrants, abstracts and notices shall be in accordance with the Records Retention and Disposition Schedule for Municipal Courts of the State of New Mexico, as ordered by the Supreme Court of New Mexico.

(2) Notwithstanding the above provisions, all case docket books shall be maintained permanently.

(’87 Code, § 5-7-1)

(B) Monies received by the court shall be deposited in a municipal court account on a timely basis to insure security of the funds. (’87 Code, § 5-7-2)

(C) At least once monthly, not later than the tenth day of the month, the Municipal Judge shall transmit to the City Treasurer all monies received during the prior calendar month together with a letter of transmittal listing the persons from whom the monies were received. Monthly, not later than the tenth day of the month, the Municipal Judge shall send a written report to the governing body which shall include an itemized statement of the amount collected, the purpose of collection, the names of the persons paying and the dates of payment. In addition, not more than ten days following the disposition of any traffic offense covered by the New Mexico Uniform Traffic Ordinance, the disposition of the case shall be reported to the Motor Vehicle Division of the State Transportation Department as provided by statute. (’87 Code, § 5-7-3)

(Ord. 82-31; Am. Ord. 90-006; Am. Ord. 94-009; Am. Ord. 97-020)

34.06 PENALTIES AND FINES; BONDS. Revised 10/19

(A)(1) Penalties.

(a) The penalty for conviction of violating a municipal ordinance shall be as directed by the ordinance or code, and no single offense shall exceed a fine of $500 or 90 days’ imprisonment or a combination of both the fine and imprisonment.

(b) A violation subject to trial in municipal court shall be a misdemeanor or petty misdemeanor.

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, where a defendant is charged with more than one offense arising out of a single transaction, act or occurrence, the maximum combined sentence that may be imposed for all offenses shall not exceed 179 days.

(d) This section shall apply to all offenses for which proceedings in the municipal court or appeals from it have not been concluded on the effective date of this section, whether or not the proceedings have been initiated, and shall apply to all offenses committed after its effective date.

(2) Mandatory fees.

(a) In addition to any fine or imprisonment described in subsection (A)(1) of this section, from any person convicted of a violation of any ordinance of the city relating to the operation of a motor vehicle, including penalty assessments, or any ordinance which may be enforced by the imposition of a term of imprisonment, the Municipal Judge shall collect the following mandatory fees:

1. Corrections fee: $50;

2. Judicial education fee: $3;

3. Court automation fee: $6.

(b) If the conviction is for a drug-related offense, in addition to mandatory fees prescribed herein above, the Municipal Judge shall collect:

1. Fee to be imposed upon conviction of provisions relating to the Controlled Substance Act or conviction of distribution or possession of a controlled substance: $75 per conviction.

2. If the conviction is for a traffic violation, in addition to subsections (A)(2)(a)(1) through (3) of this section the Municipal Judge shall collect a traffic safety education and enforcement fee: $15.

3. If conviction is for an animals ordinance violation, in addition to any of the above, the Municipal Judge shall collect a spay/neuter fee: $5.

(c) All money collected pursuant to this section as a corrections fee shall be deposited in a special fund in the Municipal Treasury and shall be used solely for the purpose of constructing, operating or maintaining the municipal jail or for paying for the cost of housing municipal prisoners in the county jail or other detention facilities in the state.

(d) All judicial education fees collected shall be remitted monthly to the State Treasurer for credit to the judicial education fund and shall be used for the education and training, including production of bench books and other written materials, of municipal judges and other municipal court personnel.

(e) All court automation fees collected shall be remitted monthly to the State Treasurer for credit to the Municipal Court Automation Fund and shall be used for the purchase and maintenance of court automation systems in the municipal courts. The court automation systems shall have the capability of providing, on a timely basis, electronic records in a format specified by the Judicial Information System Council.

(f) All traffic safety education and enforcement fees collected shall be distributed only by the Traffic Safety Advisory Committee, with approval of the governing body. The fund shall be used to institute and promote the program of traffic safety through education and enforcement to reduce serious and fatal traffic accidents and to provide for the purchase of equipment and support services as are necessary to establish and maintain the program. (’87 Code, § 5-6-1)

(g) All spay/neuter fees collected shall be deposited into a segregated and separate fund established under the Animals Chapter, to be distributed with approval of the governing body. The fund shall be used by the Rio Rancho Animal Resource Center (RRARC) to implement and maintain programs associated with spaying and neutering of domestic pets within the city, and for equipment or services needed to support those initiatives.

(h) The Municipal Judge shall collect the following mandatory fee from any person convicted of a violation of any ordinance of the city for purposes of funding Rio Rancho Municipal Court facility, equipment, technology, or program needs: $3.

(i) In lieu of a fine for a traffic violation, the Municipal Judge may order (one time only) completion of a safe driving school program, and in doing so the Municipal Judge shall collect $75 in addition to all mandatory fees, as applicable, prescribed herein above.

(B) The Municipal Judge may designate specific offenses, not including breaches of the peace as defined by the Procedures for Municipal Courts, for which a voluntary plea of “guilty” or “no contest” together with the designated fine may be accepted by the court in lieu of a formal hearing. The court shall deliver a receipt for all fines paid whether voluntary or as a result of conviction. (’87 Code, § 5-6-2)

(C) If the circumstances do not warrant that the defendant be confined pending hearing, but the Municipal Judge has reasonable doubt that the defendant will appear, the Municipal Judge may require the posting of an appearance bond to exceed the maximum fine allowed upon conviction of the violation charged. If the defendant appears as summoned, the bond or cash shall be refunded; if the defendant does not appear, the bond or cash is forfeited to the court. (’87 Code, § 5-6-3)

(Ord. 82-31; Am. Ord. 90-006; Am. Ord. 94-009; Am. Ord. 97-020; Am. Ord. 03-012; Am. Ord. 03-018; Am. Ord. 06-29; Am. Ord. 09-44; Am. Ord. 10-24; Am. Ord. 11-11; Am. Ord. 14-10; Am. Ord. 19-04; Am. Ord. 19-24; Am. Ord. 19-30)

Cross-reference:

General penalty, see § 10.99