Judge Sandra Price will continue to hear cases until she retires at end of year

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FARMINGTON — The 11th Judicial District Court is making progress toward filling the seat of District Judge Sandra Price, who is due to retire at the end of the year.

There will be a vacancy for Price's position, the Division 3 district judge for the 11th Judicial District, as of Jan. 2, 2018, according to Judicial Selection Office press release.

Price has been on the bench since 2005. She was first elected to the seat on Nov. 2, 2004.

During the Nov. 4, 2014, election, Price was elected to a five-year term that started on Jan. 1, 2015, and is scheduled to end on Dec. 31, 2019.

She told The Daily Times she is excited about making a change and is ready to move on to something new.

Price is set to continue hearing cases until she retires, according to Administrative Office of the Courts spokesman Barry Massey.

"It'll be business as usual," Massey said.

Once the vacancy occurs, the three district judges in Aztec and District Judge Daylene Marsh in Farmington will handle the hearings and matters in the cases assigned to Price, Massey said.

District Judge Lyndy Bennett, the Division 5 district judge for the 11th Judicial District, will travel to Farmington to hear cases as needed. He is based out of the McKinley County-Gallup District Court in Gallup.

More:Judge Price announces retirement from bench

Once a new judge is appointed, the district judges will decide how to divide the caseload, according to Massey.

A committee to interview candidates for the vacancy is beginning to form.

Alfred Mathewson, the Dean of the University of New Mexico Law School, will serve as the chair of the 11th Judicial District Court Judicial Nominating Commission.

Beverly Akin of the Judicial Selection Office said officials hope to finalize the commission's membership on Nov. 23.

The commission is accepting applications for the district judge position from those who meet the qualifications established in the New Mexico Constitution.

A candidate must be at least 35 years old, must have practiced law for at least six years and must have resided in the state for at least three years, according to the Constitution. A district judge also must live in the district where she or he was elected or appointed.

Applications can be found on the Judicial Selection website at http://lawschool.unm.edu/judsel/application.php or emailed by contacting the Judicial Selection Office at 505-277-4700. All applications must be sent by Jan. 10.

The 11th Judicial District Court Judicial Nominating Commission is set to meet at 9 a.m. on Jan. 25 in Farmington to interview applicants. The meeting is open to the public, but a location has not been announced.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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