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Justice Michael E. Vigil

Justice Michael E. Vigil was elected to the New Mexico Supreme Court in the November 6, 2018 general election, and was sworn into office on December 31, 2018, by his former colleague on the New Mexico Court of Appeals, Judge Roderick T. Kennedy (retired). He was selected by his fellow Justices to serve as Chief Justice beginning on July 15, 2020. 



Prior to his election to the high Court in 2018, Justice Vigil served as a Judge on the New Mexico Court of Appeals for fifteen years, after practicing law for over 27 years. He was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 2003 by Governor Bill Richardson, and was sworn into office on the stage in Sweeney Gymnasium, the same stage where he received his high school diploma. Justice Vigil was elected to a full eight year term in 2004, and the citizens of New Mexico voted to retain him for another eight year term in the 2012 election. Justice Vigil’s colleagues on the Court of Appeals unanimously elected him to serve as the Court’s Chief Judge for a two year term, from 2015 to 2017, and as a judge on the Court of Appeals, Justice Vigil sat on over 3,000 appeals and wrote over 1,000 opinions.


Justice Vigil has served on the New Mexico Sentencing Commission, the New Mexico Chief Judges Council, the New Mexico Courts Budget Committee, and the Council of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeals. Justice Vigil received the Native Hispanic Hero Award from the New Mexico House of Representatives in 2012, and has been an elected member of the American Law Institute since 2009. His greatest joy as a judge has been participating in Constitution Day for 5th graders and sitting on appeals in real cases before high school students throughout New Mexico.


Justice Vigil began his legal career in 1976 as one of the original staff attorneys in the Court of Appeals pre-hearing division, where he worked until 1979, whereupon he entered into the private practice of law. As an attorney, Justice Vigil tried almost every kind of case, administrative, civil, and criminal, in every judicial district of the State of New Mexico, in both state and federal courts. Justice Vigil also appears as appellate counsel in over 50 cases of first impression in New Mexico, in virtually all fields of the law, civil and criminal.


Justice Vigil graduated from Santa Fe High School in 1969, and the College of Santa Fe, summa cum laude, in 1973, with a major in political science and a minor in history. He received his legal education at Georgetown University Law Center in 1976, where he also served as an editor on the Georgetown Law Journal.