JPEC Commissioners

The JPEC is made of up 15 individuals – 7 lawyers and 8 non-lawyers – who are appointed to staggered terms by the Supreme Court of New Mexico.  Commission members are selected from nominations by the Governor, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Speaker of the House, President Pro Tempore, House Minority Leader, Senate Minority Leader and President of the State Bar.

Members are appointed to represent divergent professions, backgrounds and geographical areas of the state.

Members go through an approval process and agree to donate a significant amount of time to evaluate judges midway through their terms in office as well as when they are standing for retention.

Denise Torres

Denise Torres

Chair
Las Cruces
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2008

Denise Torres is a sole practitioner in the Law Firm of Denise Torres, LLC, specializing in providing clients with mediation, legal representation and advice on all aspects of personal injury in the Las Cruces, New Mexico area and throughout the state. She was admitted to the New Mexico Bar in 1993 and began her legal career with Angel Saenz. She became partner of the legal firm of Saenz & Torres, which limited its practice to personal injury, wrongful death and medical malpractice. She served in that position for nearly 20 years until leaving to start her own firm in 2013.  

A native New Mexican from Truth or Consequences, Torres was a Presidential Scholar and earned an undergraduate degree from the University of New Mexico Anderson Schools of Management in 1989. As a National Hispanic Scholar, she earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico in 1993, graduating with honors in clinical law.  

Torres was president of the New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association Board of Directors in 2008-2009. She was selected for the 2011 and 2013 editions of Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers and holds a AV rating. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America annually from 2005-2015 as well as a Southwest Super Lawyer annually from 2007-2014.  In addition, she serves as an instructor for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy.

 

Edward Chávez

Edward Chávez

Vice Chair
Albuquerque
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2021

Justice Edward L. Chávez served on the New Mexico Supreme Court for 15 years until his retirement in 2018. He was Chief Justice from 2007-2010. While serving on the Court, he wrote more than 200 opinions. He was the Court's representative on the Disciplinary Board as well as a liaison to the Board of Bar Examiners, Language Access Advisory Committee, Client Protection Fund, Committee on Professionalism and the Code of Judicial Conduct Committee. He served as Second Vice President to the national Conference of Chief Justices. As a member of the Advanced Science and Technology Adjudication Resource Center, he helped organize and launch a Judge's Science School at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Since his retirement, Justice Chávez has chaired the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Task Force created by the New Mexico Legislature and the NM Supreme Court Ad Hoc Committee to Review Pretrial Release and Detention Procedures. He co-chaired the NM First Redistricting Task Force and currently chairs the New Mexico Sentencing Commission, which is tasked with rewriting the state's Criminal Code. He also lectures at the University of New Mexico (UNM) School of Law.

Justice Chávez is a native of Santa Fe. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Eastern New Mexico University and graduated from the UNM School of Law. He has been a licensed attorney for 39 years. Prior to joining the Supreme Court, he was a practicing attorney who served as President of the Legal Aid Society of Albuquerque (now known as New Mexico Legal Aid), and was a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute.

 

Michael Aragon

Michael Aragon

Commissioner
Las Vegas
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2013

Michael Aragon attended New Mexico Highlands University, graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration and Management degree. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor from the University of New Mexico School of Law. While attending law school, he received the Dean's Award for Outstanding Contribution to the UNM School of Law and served as President of the UNM School of Law Student Bar Association.

Aragon has worked as a law clerk for the New Mexico Attorney General, a Law Extern for the United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, an associate attorney for Lastrapes & Spangler, P.A. in Rio Rancho and a Special Assistant Attorney General for the New Mexico Child Support Enforcement Division. He is currently in private practice as sole owner of the Aragon Law Office in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

 

Karen O. Cortese

Karen O. Cortese

Commissioner
Fort Sumner
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2008

Karen O. Cortese is co-owner, with her husband, of CC, Inc., a farming and ranching entity, as well as Cortese Family Properties, LP. A native of Loving, New Mexico, she earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from New Mexico State University in 1974.

Cortese is a very active and enthusiastic community member. She volunteers with the Friends of the Bosque Redondo Memorial, the local Powderhorn Cattlewomen and PEO International. She has served presiding judge in all county, state, and local elections for many years and is currently serving as vice president of the DeBaca County Republican Party.

Cortese is a member of First Baptist Church, where she is music director, Women's Ministry coordinator and a member of various other committees. A talented entertainer, she also performs with the "Not So Andrews Sisters" singing group. She enjoys spending time with her family, and especially with her three grandchildren.

 

Nate Gentry

Nate Gentry

Commissioner
Albuquerque
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2018

Nate Gentry was first elected to the New Mexico Legislature in 2010, was elected Republican Whip in 2012, Majority Floor Leader in 2014, and Republican Floor Leader in 2016.

Prior to serving in the New Mexico Legislature, Gentry served as counsel to the United States Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee from 2004-2007, focusing on water, lands and oil and gas issues.

Gentry earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, and a Juris Doctor from the University of New Mexico School of Law. He is currently an attorney in private practice in Albuquerque.

 

Amber Hamilton

Amber Hamilton

Commissioner
Portales
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2019

Amber Hamilton has served as Roosevelt County Manager since 2014, managing the daily operations of the County at the direction of the Board of County Commissioners.

She previously served as director of marketing, public relations and hospitality for Roosevelt General Hospital and administrated the Hospital's Arise Sexual Assault Services program.

Hamilton is a graduate of Eastern New Mexico University and holds a Master of Arts in Communications as well as a Bachelor of Science in Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations, magna cum laude.

She is active in the International Association of City/County Managers, Roosevelt County Crime Stoppers, Portales Woman’s Club, P.E.O., and many other organizations.

 

Laura Howell

Laura Howell

Commissioner
Silver City
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2013

Laura Howell is a visual communicator focused in marketing strategy development/implementation in healthcare organizations and small business development. Her firm is based in Silver City and serves a number of national clients.

Howell is a past recipient of the Grant County Business Woman of the Year Award, past president of Rotary Club of Silver City, and past co-director of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program at St. Vincent de Paul. She currently serves on the Community Legislative Action Committee to the Grant County Prospectors and is a member of the Southwest Green Chamber of Commerce. In addition, she has served as an adjunct professor for Western New Mexico University in graphic design and marketing.

Howell holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in advertising design from University of Oklahoma and a Master of Communications degree from Pratt Institute, New York City.

 

Lee Hunt

Lee Hunt

Commissioner
Santa Fe
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2018

Lee Hunt founded Hunt & Marshall, LLC, a legal firm specializing in personal injury, medical malpractice, catastrophic injury and wrongful death, in Santa Fe in 2014.

He earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Kentucky School of Law in 2000, graduating in the top 10 percent of his class. He served as Symposium Editor of the Kentucky Law Journal. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and Business from Western Kentucky University.

An avid triathlete, Hunt was a Division 1 Soccer Team captain for three years while earning his undergraduate degree and was named Student Athlete of the Year and Academic All-American in 1997. He completed the world-renowned Hawaii Ironman in 2011 and 2016.

Hunt was editor of The New Mexico Trial Lawyer Journal from 2010-2013 and is active in the New Mexico Trial Lawyers. He is an Elder in Christ Church Santa Fe.

 

Patricia L. Quintana

Patricia L. Quintana

Commissioner
Taos
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2014

Patricia L. Quintana is a native of Taos, New Mexico, and the owner/operator of Rancho La Fina Lamb and Wool and De La Tierra Consulting. She holds a master's degree in Agriculture from New Mexico State University (NMSU); a bachelor's degree in Animal Science from NMSU; and was an Executive Fellow of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, in 2005. Quintana’s career has focused on advocacy for the conservation of agricultural communities throughout the world as well as linking agriculture to economic development and making wise land use decisions.

Quintana has served as a consultant to the New Mexico Legislature and the Navajo Nation. Under the auspices of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Winrock International, she has provided agricultural consulting in varied locales around the globe, including the Republic of Mali in West Africa, the Republics of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Krygyzstan, Mexico, Ecuador, and many others.

Her previous experience includes positions as Executive Director of the Taos Land Trust, Director of Government Relations for NMSU and Special Assistant to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. She has also shared her knowledge and experience as a founder, board member or commissioner for countless organizations, and was honored as one of the Remarkable Women of Taos in addition to receiving recognition from the New Mexico Commission on the Status of women and being named New Mexico State Employee of the Year by the Coalition of New Mexico and Arizona Counties.

 

Richard Reese

Richard Reese

Commissioner
Albuquerque
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2014

Richard Reese was born and raised in Albuquerque. For the past 11 years he and his wife have owned and operated Blue Ristra, Inc., a specialized promotional product company.

Reese has worked for various companies owned by the Robert O. Anderson family of Roswell for 20 years, serving in management positions in industries including oil and gas, restaurants, real estate and ranching. He has served on the board of directors of United Way of Chaves County, is a former director of the Albuquerque Rotary Club and a current member of the board of directors for the Foundation for Free Enterprise Education.

Reese earned a Master of Management degree from the Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico in 1983 and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from New Mexico State University.

 

Linda Rodgers

Linda Rodgers

Commissioner
Farmington
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2017

For the past five years, Linda Rodgers has served as chief financial officer of Process Equipment and Service Company, which has been engineering, designing and producing new production equipment, refurbishing existing equipment, and providing field services to the on-shore oil and gas industries since 1970.

Her background also includes 23 years in banking, serving as a business banking manager with Wells Fargo Bank and as a commercial loan officer, loan review officer, and credit analyst with the First National Bank of Farmington.

Rodgers currently serves as a City Councilor for District 1 on the Farmington City Council. She is a 1992 graduate of Leadership San Juan and has served on numerous boards, including San Juan United Way, the Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Farmington Parks and Recreation Commission. In addition, she is a former president of the Association of Desk and Derrick Clubs.

Rodgers graduated summa cum laude from New Mexico Highlands University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.

 

Anita Sanchez

Anita Sanchez

Commissioner
Rio Rancho
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2015

Born and raised in Santa Fe, Anita Sanchez is currently a partner with the law firm of Sanchez & Piñon, a Rio Rancho, New Mexico firm specializing in personal injury law.

She attended the University of New Mexico, earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science in 1999. She then went on to earn her juris doctor from the University of New Mexico’s School of Law.

Sanchez has practiced on both sides of civil personal injury law, representing both insurance companies and businesses. Sanchez has tried cases in front of New Mexico’s state and federal courts and is highly regarded in both ethical and professional standards among her peers, earning an "AV-Preeminent" rating from Martindale-Hubbel.

 

Scott Sandlin

Scott Sandlin

Commissioner
Albuquerque
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2017

Scott Sandlin retired in 2016 from a 40-year career as a newspaper reporter in New Mexico.

For nearly three decades, she wrote about courts and judicial affairs for The Albuquerque Journal.

Sandlin studied at the Centro Andino, a University of New Mexico program in Quito, Ecuador, and graduated from UNM with a degree in journalism and Spanish.

She interned at the Santa Fe New Mexican, spent a decade as a reporter and editor writing about the Navajo Nation and politics at the Farmington Daily Times, covered environmental issues and politics for the Albuquerque Tribune and wrote about legal issues for the weekly New Mexico Lawyer, before joining the Journal.

She has served on boards of the New Mexico League of Women Voters and Albuquerque Press Women.

 

Jeannie Watson

Jeannie Watson

Commissioner
Carlsbad
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2020

Jeannie Watson worked in legal administration for many years in Carlsbad and Las Vegas, Nevada, before beginning her current career as a sales and marketing executive in the long-term care industry. Her experience includes working with lawyers involved in criminal defense, business and general law. She also worked closely with the juvenile public defender's office in Carlsbad. In the private sector, she founded and served as principal of a real estate development company in Las Vegas prior to returning to her hometown in New Mexico.

Watson is a former member of the New Mexico Legal Secretary Association, volunteers on the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce Retirement Council and is active in the nonprofit organization, Creative Housing Solutions, and the Giving Tuesday global generosity campaign.

 

Frank Wilson

Frank Wilson

Commissioner
Alamogordo
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2020

Frank Wilson served as a District Judge for the 12th Judicial District, which includes Otero and Lincoln counties, for 14 years until his retirement in 2009. He is currently a mediator, settlement facilitator and special master in various disputes. His prior experience includes serving as District Attorney for the 12th Judicial District, as Alamogordo City Attorney and in private practice as an attorney at law.

Wilson was a member of the New Mexico Judicial Standards Commission for eight years. He earned his Juris Doctor from the University of New Mexico School of Law and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. He is a past president and Paul Harris Fellow of the White Sands Rotary Club, and a past president of the Otero County Opportunity Center, the Otero County Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the White Sands Soaring Association.

 

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