The Albuquerque Journal announces endorsements for Judicial Candidates
Tom Montoya, Justice of the Supreme Court, Position 1
“Choose balance, choose fairness,” Tom Montoya told the Editorial Board. Montoya has 41 years’ experience practicing civil family law in New Mexico.
Tom, an Alameda native, whose ancestors have lived in New Mexico for more than 400 years, has been well vetted, having qualified three times as a district court judge by Second District Judicial Nominating commissions.
Montoya has written, lobbied and obtained sponsors for over 30 statutory enactments in family law. He also understands crime victims from his service on the Crime Victims Reparation Commission. Montoya describes his judicial philosophy as conservative and says judges should rise above party politics. “I will not read words in the law that are not there,” he says.
Named “Best of the Bar” for family law by New Mexico Business Weekly.
An impressive “AV Preeminent Rating” from Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings, reserved for an elite group of attorneys who have been rated as having very high ethical standards.
Montoya faces Democratic incumbent Supreme Court Justice Julie Vargas, who was appointed in December 2020.
Kerry Morris, Supreme Court Justice, Position 2
The all-Democrat “supremes” are young, too progressive and need a “voice of reason” to counter their liberal, activist impulses, Morris says. Two years ago, Morris ran on a platform of bringing more balance to the high court.
For a second successive election cycle, the Albuquerque Journal agree the Supreme Court needs diversity in philosophy and thinking. Morris is part of the GOP slate of judicial candidates who are running on a platform of putting the law before politics.
“I’m pretty wound up about this,” Morris told the Editorial Board. “The court is headed in a pretty progressive direction.”
Morris describes himself as a “peacemaker” who’s a problem-solver first and a litigator last. He’s a former prosecutor in the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office. Over the course of his 41-year legal career, he has represented individuals, small businesses and state agencies in a wide variety of legal matters.
Morris faces Democratic incumbent Briana Zamora, who was appointed in July 2021
Barbara Johnson, State Court of Appeals Position 1
Gertrude Lee, State Court of Appeals Position 2
Lee is a former chief prosecutor for the Navajo Nation, where she oversaw 10 legal offices, and 40 lawyers and staff. She’s also worked as a prosecutor and deputy DA in McKinley County. She’s currently a senior trial attorney in the San Juan County District Attorney’s Office in Farmington, near her hometown of Kirtland.
“I walk into the courts every single day and, when it comes to the judicial system, I’m the only Navajo person who’s walking around,” she said. “It’s important that we see more folks of a diverse background on the courts — not just cultural background, but diversity of thought and perspective.” If elected, Lee would become the first Navajo — and Native American — to serve on either the New Mexico Court of Appeals or state Supreme Court.
Lee has experience on the bench in both state and tribal courts. She points out that any trial attorney has to think like an appellate judge to avoid reversible errors.
Lee faces Democratic incumbent Judge Katherine Wray, who was appointed in September 2021, and Libertarian Stephen Curtis.
Gertrude Lee, Thomas Montoya and Kerry Morris has been endorsed by the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association.