New Mexico swears in Shannon Bacon as chief justice

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court has a new chief justice who will oversee the administration of the judiciary and act as an advocate for state courts at the legislature on budgetary and other matters.

Shannon Bacon was sworn in Wednesday to a two-year term as chief justice, a post that also involves coordination with the State Bar that sets professional standards for attorneys.

Bacon was appointed by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in 2019 and won the statewide election in 2020. She previously served nine years as a state district judge in the Albuquerque-based 2nd Judicial District.

Bacon already leads several high-court initiatives including a review of issues related to race and bias in the state’s justice system and efforts to promote diversity among judges and judicial employees. And she is active in efforts to improve eviction and foreclosure programs and reform the state’s guardianship and conservatorship.

Bacon’s years on the Supreme Court have been marked by webcast proceedings amid the COVID-19 pandemic, support for the governor’s authority to impose sanctions under emergency health orders and an opinion upholding the Legislature’s spending authority over federal pandemic aid.

The justice was a dissenting voice in a Supreme Court decision allowing the Legislature to convene without in-person public access to the Capitol building in 2021.