Court of appeals candidate visits Farmington

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Court of Appeals candidate Briana Zamora speaks Friday at the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center in Farmington.

FARMINGTON —Democratic Party New Mexico Court of Appeals candidate Briana Zamora visited Bonnie Dallas Senior Center Friday to encourage local residents to vote for her during the November election.

The court of appeals consists of 10 judges. Three of its members retired last year, which allowed Gov. Susana Martinez to fill those seats. Each of Martinez’s appointees has to win the election to stay on the bench.

Zamora said the biggest challenges facing the court of appeals are the limited budget and the high case load.

She said she would look for inefficiencies and encourage alternative resolution through mediation to address the high case load while working on a limited budget.

Zamora said she decided to become a judge after visiting the metro court in Albuquerque and seeing judges act dismissive about cases such as traffic citations. She said she wants each person to feel as if their case matters. That prompted her to run for the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court in 2010. She has been a district court judge since 2012.

Court of Appeals candidate Briana Zamora talks with local residents Friday during lunch at the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center in Farmington.

She said for some of the people the traffic citation is their first time in court.

“To them, it meant the world,” she said.

She has been a judge for nearly a decade in the trial courts.

She said that experience allowed her to hear the real-life stories of domestic violence victims and learn about homelessness.

Zamora said her experience in trial court gives her a unique perspective that would help the court of appeals.

If elected, Zamora said she would focus on handling cases efficiently and speeding up the process.

“People deserve resolution,” she said.

Zamora will run against Emil Kiehne of Los Lunas, who was appointed to the position last fall.

Zamora has served as a district judge in Albuquerque. Zamora has also served as a homeless court judge and currently presides over the Native American Healing to Wellness Drug Court program.

Both Zamora and Kiehne were unopposed in their party’s primary election.

Court of Appeals candidate Briana Zamora speaks with community members Friday at the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center in Farmington.

Before being appointed to the court of appeals, Kiehne worked as an attorney at Modrall Sperling, an Albuquerque-based firm. His cases included appeals, commercial litigation, torts, healthcare, constitutional law, administrative law and employment law. He previously worked as a prosecutor in Philadelphia.

Kiehne has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, a master’s degree from a Spanish university and a law degree from University of Notre Dame’s law school.

Zamora is a New Mexico State University graduate and received her law degree from University of New Mexico.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at