The judges of the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court have elected the Honorable Maria I. Dominguez to take over as head of the state’s busiest court. Her three-year term will begin on August 1, 2020.
Judge Dominguez will succeed Chief Judge Sandra Engel who is stepping down as chief judge of the court on July 31, 2020. Chief Judge Engel was retained by a vote of her colleagues after her initial term expired in May and remained in her leadership role to ensure a smooth transition of the court to a new chief judge during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Judge Dominguez has selected the Honorable Michelle Castillo Dowler to preside over the court’s Criminal Division and the Honorable Frank A. Sedillo as the presiding judge of the Civil Division.
Judge Dominguez is a lifetime New Mexican, born and raised in the small northern New Mexican town of Chamisal. Her parents both spent their careers as teachers in New Mexico’s public schools, with her father also working as a principal. She is married to Pueblo of Laguna Chief Judge Bruce Fox.
Judge Dominguez is a proud graduate of New Mexico Military Institute high school and went on to New Mexico Highlands University and graduated cum laude with a degree in Political Science. She graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 1995.
Judge Dominguez was appointed and elected to the Metropolitan Court Criminal Division bench in 2008. She has been involved in numerous court projects and Specialty Court programs over the years. She currently presides over the Outreach Court program, which enables homeless and precariously housed individuals who are actively engaged in the program to address their outstanding legal obligations. She also presides over Competency Court, which assesses an individual’s ability to understand and participate in his or her trial.
Judge Dominguez played a key role in revitalizing the Native Track of Drug Court, which has since evolved into the Urban Native American Healing to Wellness Court, now presided over by Judge Renée Torres. Judge Dominguez also served on the New Mexico Tribal-State Judicial Consortium, a Supreme Court committee, as well as numerous committees within the Metropolitan Court.
Judge Dominguez has worked as an assistant public defender, an assistant city attorney, and as a hearing officer for both the City of Albuquerque and the New Mexico Environment Department.