The Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court was authorized by the New Mexico State Legislature effective 1980.
It consolidated the functions of Albuquerque Municipal Court, Bernalillo County Magistrate Court and Small Claims Court into a single court operation. It is the only court of its kind in the state of New Mexico.
Metropolitan Court is a court of limited jurisdiction. That means it handles petty misdemeanor and misdemeanor crimes that carry a maximum jail term of 364 days and fines of up to $1,000. The Civil Division presides over cases in which the amount in dispute does not exceed $10,000, subject to the other jurisdictional limits of the court. The judges at Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court also conduct felony first appearances.
The Court was designated as a court of record in 1994 for domestic violence and DWI cases. That means on appeal, the defendant does not get a new trial, but the case record is reviewed by a District Court judge to determine if a legal error was made.
In 1997, the Court established a DWI/Drug Court. Since then, the court has started seven specialty court programs which include; Competency Court, Courts to School, Domestic Violence Early Intervention Program, Domestic Violence Repeat Offender Program, Homeless Court and Mental Health Court.
Basics about the Court
Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court has 19 judges: 16 in the Criminal Division and three in the Civil Division. Unlike other courts of limited jurisdiction in New Mexico, all Metropolitan Court judges are attorneys who have practiced law for at least three years. The court is staffed by about 340 full-time employees.