Committee nominates longtime attorney, former judge to fill vacant bench in 3rd District court

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Former judge and prosecutor Jeanne H. Quintero chats with current Judge Conrad Perea during a community forum on Aug. 10, 2021. On Jan. 19, 2022, a committee nominated Quintero to fill a vacancy in the 3rd Judicial District Courthouse.
Former judge and prosecutor Jeanne H. Quintero chats with current Judge Conrad Perea during a community forum on Aug. 10, 2021. On Jan. 19, 2022, a committee nominated Quintero to fill a vacancy in the 3rd Judicial District Courthouse.

Note: A previous version of this article erroneously stated that Jeanne H. Quintero was currently a magistrate judge. In fact, Quintero was a magistrate judge until 2018.

LAS CRUCES - A nominating committee selected a long-time Las Cruces prosecutor and former judge to fill a vacant bench at the district courthouse.

The 3rd Judicial District Court Judicial Nominating Commission nominated Jeanne H. Quintero on Jan. 19 to fill the seat vacated by Marci Beyer in December 2021. Beyer announced her retirement last year and her bench — one of nine at district court — has been vacant since Dec. 31, 2021.

Despite the nomination, Quintero has to be appointed by the governor before she can become a judge in the district courthouse. If appointed, Quintero, who was formerly a judge in the Doña Ana County Magistrate Courthouse, must run as a candidate in the next partisan election and be subject to retention or rejection by Doña Ana County voters.

That means voters would have a chance to keep Quintero around or force her to run against an opponent in another election.

The seat vacated by Beyer was the second opening on the 3rd District in 2021. before Beyer, former district judge Lisa Schultz retired and was replaced by Judge Casey Fitch in August.

Quintero was appointed as a special master to temporarily fill the vacancy left by Schultz. Quintero also applied but was not selected as the nomination to fill Schultz's seat.

If the governor appoints Quintero, she'd be returning to her old stomping grounds for a number of reasons. Quintero has a long history in the district courthouse as a public defender, a district prosecutor, a defense attorney and a judge.

According to the Sun-New's previous reporting about the nominee, Quintero served as the chief psychologist for the U.S Department of Justice from 1983 to 1989 and then again from 1990 to 1996.

She also served as a senior trial attorney for the New Mexico Public Defender’s Office from 2001 to 2003 and served as deputy district attorney for the 3rd Judicial District Attorney’s Office from 2003 to 2012 mostly under former District Attorney Susana Martinez, who would go on to serve as New Mexico governor for two terms.

For five years, Quintero led the J. Paul Taylor Center in Las Cruces. She was the juvenile detention center's superintendent from 2013 until 2018. In 2018, Martinez appointed Quintero to the district bench to fill the seat vacated by Fernando Macias.

In the following election, Quintero was ousted via retention election from the courthouse by Judge Grace Duran in June 2018. Duran beat Quintero by over 3,000 votes.

It's unclear when the governor will appoint Quintero or another candidate to fill the open bench. For the previous opening, the process took eight weeks from the time of the retirement to the appointment of a new judge.

Justin Garcia is a public safety reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News. He can be reached at JEGarcia@lcsun-news.com or on Twitter @Just516garc.

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This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: Committee nominates longtime attorney, former judge to fill vacant bench in 3rd District court

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