Honorable Petra Jimenez Maes
New Mexico Supreme Court
Petra Jimenez Maes was elected to the State’s highest court, the Supreme Court in November 1998 becoming the first Hispana to serve on the court. On January 8, 2003 she was designated by unanimous vote of her colleagues to serve as Chief Justice. She served as Chief Justice until January 2005. While other Latino/Hispanic men have served as Chief Justice, she ushered in a new era as the first Hispanic Woman Chief Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court. She is unanimously elected by her colleagues to serve a second term as Chief Justice from April 4, 2012 to April 4, 2014.
Justice Maes’ efforts to improve the justice system include currently serving as co-chair of the New Mexico Commission on Access to Justice; and creating the Criminal Justice Task Force to address inequities in the public defender agency. She is also the Supreme Court Liaison on the Court Improvement Project, which is a comprehensive effort to assess and improve judicial proceedings related to child abuse and neglect, foster care, and adoption; and on JIFFY, the New Mexico Supreme Court Committee that oversees automation for the entire judiciary.
Justice Maes received a B.A. from the University of New Mexico and a J.D. from UNM Law School. She was in private practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico until 1975 when she went to work for Northern New Mexico Legal Services. She was appointed to the First Judicial District Court in 1981. Her Judicial assignments in the District Court included: four years in the Criminal Division; six years in the Family Division; and seven years in the Civil Division. In addition to her other case assignments, Judge Maes served as the Children’s Court Judge for twelve years
Justice Maes was received the 2012 Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Bar Association’s Commission for Racial and Ethnic Diversity recognizing her efforts to promote racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession. Justice Maes served on the National Review Board of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Board was established in June 2002 to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.
Justice Maes was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico on October 5, 1947. Her life experience includes raising four children as a single parent after her husband’s death in 1983. She is also a proud grandmother of three granddaughters.