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Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court

Tribunal Metropolitano del Condado de Bernalillo

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The Honorable Sandra Engel named Chief Judge of the Metropolitan Court


The judges of the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court have elected a new Chief Judge, the Honorable Sandra Engel, to head the state’s busiest court.  Judge Engel will succeed Judge Edward L. Benavidez who has served as Chief Judge of the court since 2017. Judge Engel’s term will begin on January 1, 2019.   

“I am looking forward to serving the citizens of Bernalillo County in this comprehensive capacity and ensuring that this already well-run court continues to operate in an efficient and effective manner,” said Judge Engel.  

In addition to hearing his or her regular docket, the Chief Judge oversees administrative matters of the court including; the budget, policies, security, building maintenance and personnel matters.

Since being appointed and then elected to the Metropolitan Court Criminal Division bench in 2006, Judge Engel has established and overseen a number of the court’s Specialty Court programs and also previously served as Presiding Judge of the court’s Criminal Division.  She formally served as a member of the Code of Judicial Conduct Committee and Tribal-State Judicial Consortium Committee. Judge Engel currently serves as a committee member on the Advisory Board of the Code of Judicial Conduct Committee and as a member of the Supreme Court Ad Hoc Pretrial Release Committee.

Judge Engel’s prior work experience includes serving as an Assistant District Attorney in the Second Judicial District for 10 years prosecuting misdemeanor and felony cases and serving as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Rio Rancho.  She also worked in private practice handling both civil and criminal cases, acting as a guardian ad litem, CASA and respondent’s attorney in child abuse cases. Judge Engel received her undergraduate degree and law degree from the University of Alabama and was admitted to the New Mexico Bar in 1994.

Judge Engel has selected the Honorable Yvette K. Gonzales to preside over the Criminal Division of the court, and the Honorable Frank A. Sedillo will continue to serve as the presiding judge of the court’s Civil Division.

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