The City of Las Cruces is the second largest city in the state of New Mexico. The Municipal Court is the largest limited jurisdiction municipal court of a home rule municipality. The City’s charter defines jurisdiction of the Municipal Court as jurisdiction over all petty misdemeanor offenses and complaints under ordinances of the City of Las Cruces. Municipal Judges also may issue subpoenas and warrants and punish for contempt. Additionally, the Municipal Court has jurisdiction and inherent duties as may be prescribed by law or legally assigned to the Municipal Court by the City Council.
The Las Cruces Municipal Court functions as the judicial branch of the local city government and is independent in its decisions and its administration but remains interdependent upon the City for its finances and its services, and facilities. Since the Municipal Court is not under the direct supervision of the State’s Administration Office for the Courts, the City’s code authorizes the Presiding Judge to set judicial policy and local court rules not inconsistent with the laws of the state, city ordinances or court rules promulgated by the state supreme court. While state law does not require municipal judges to be attorneys, the City of Las Cruces mandates that its municipal judges be licensed attorneys.
Municipal Court operates in the “old post office” at the corner of Church Street and Griggs Avenue in downtown Las Cruces. The second floor of the building was the first federal courthouse in Las Cruces and the ground floor was the post office until it became the Third Judicial District Courthouse. In the late 1990’s the City of Las Cruces acquired the building and it became the Las Cruces Judicial Complex which housed the Dona Ana County Magistrate Court and the City of Las Cruces Municipal Court. In 2009 the Dona Ana County Magistrate Court moved into a new building on South Main Street. The building now houses the City of Las Cruces Municipal Court and several other city departments in the North side of the building.