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Taos mountains

Eighth Judicial District Court

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Judges

Judges’ Court Calendars are Tentative and may change without notice. Calendars are updated weekly. If you have questions, please call the TCAA for the Judge assigned to your case. 

To submit proposed Orders, Requests for Settings, and/or any other pleadings which need Judge’s review, please submit to the following email addresses.

Chief Judge Emilio J. Chavez      Division 1       taoddiv1proposedtxt@nmcourts.gov

Judge Melissa Kennelly               Division 2       ratddiv2proposedtxt@nmcourts.gov

Judge Jeffrey Shannon                Division 3       taoddiv3proposedtxt@nmcourts.gov

Emilio J. Chavez

Emilio J. Chavez

Chief District Court Judge

Emilio Jacob Chavez was appointed district judge in July of 2015. On October 1, 2019, he was elected Chief Judge for the Eighth Judicial District. The judge’s primary responsibilities include presiding over cases in Colfax, Union, and Taos Counties. Prior to assuming the role of judge, Mr. Chavez served the people of Taos, Colfax, and Union Counties, as a deputy district attorney for Eighth Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

During his time at the district attorney’s office, Judge Chavez was appointed to the New Mexico Supreme Court’s Criminal Uniform Jury Instructions Committee and is currently serving a second term. Additionally, he was appointed director for the northern New Mexico Young Lawyers Division (YLD), which included organizing and participating in events such as wills for heroes, voting and supporting YLD programs, and advising young attorneys. Judge Chavez has twice served as a mentor for new attorneys under New Mexico’s Bridge the Gap Mentorship program.

Judge Chavez received his juris doctor from the University of New Mexico. At UNM, he was a member of the NM law review and also studied law in Mexico at the University of Guanajuanto.

Melissa A. Kennelly

Melissa A. Kennelly

District Court Judge

Melissa A. Kennelly was appointed district judge in April 2019 and elected to the position in 2020. Judge Kennelly presides over cases filed in the Colfax and Union county district courts, including felony criminal, civil, probate, children’s court, domestic matters, administrative and magistrate court appeals, and is the district’s water judge. She presides over the Raton Adult Drug Court Program, chairs the Colfax/Union County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, and serves on the Tribal-State Judicial Consortium and the Supreme Court’s Code of Judicial Conduct Committee.

Prior to her appointment as district judge, Judge Kennelly was the staff attorney for the Eighth Judicial District Court; clerked for judges on the New Mexico Court of Appeals and Colorado Court of Appeals; and practiced law in civil matters, including litigation and transactional work involving real estate, business, insurance, foreclosure, water rights, estate planning, and probate. Judge Kennelly graduated with honors from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 2010, where she was co-editor-in-chief of the Natural Resources Journal. Prior to moving to New Mexico in 2004, Judge Kennelly served for six years as a police officer near Cleveland, Ohio.

Jeffrey A. Shannon

Jeffrey A. Shannon

District Court Judge

Ernest Ortega

Ernest Ortega

Magistrate Court Judge

Sara Blankenhorn

Sara Blankenhorn

Magistrate Court Judge

Felix Peña

Felix Peña

Magistrate Court Judge

Warren Walton

Warren Walton

Magistrate Court Judge

Timothy Hodo

Timothy Hodo

Magistrate Court Judge