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

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.

 

James Hall

Vice Chair
Santa Fe
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2009

James Hall was appointed a district court judge in the First Judicial District in 1995. He was elected in 1996, retained on the bench by voters in 2002 and 2008 and retired in 2009. While on the bench, he served in the First Judicial District's Civil Division, Criminal Division and Family Court Division. He was twice elected Chief Judge by his colleagues and also acted as the first Drug Court Judge for Santa Fe.

Prior to being appointed, he worked in private practice and served in the First Judicial District Attorney's Office, as well in the New Mexico Attorney General's Office.

Hall received his undergraduate degree from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana and his law degree from the University of Michigan School of Law in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

He currently has a private law practice in Santa Fe specializing in mediation and arbitration.

 

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.

 

Joseph Arite

Commissioner
Grants
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2015

Joseph Arite is a sole practitioner with the Arite Law Firm where he practices criminal and civil law in the Grants, New Mexico area.

He attended the University of New Mexico, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in economics in 1982. He went on to earn his juris doctor from Loyola University School of Law.

Arite has served as the Assistant District Attorney in Cibola County (1987 - 1997), Cibola County Magistrate Court Judge (1997 - 1998), District Court Judge for the Thirteenth Judicial District (1999 - 2000) and as Sandoval County Deputy District Attorney (2003 - 2009).

In addition to his law practice, Arite serves as a prosecutor in the Acoma Tribal Court.

 

Joel M. Carson III

Commissioner
Roswell
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2011

Joel M. Carson III is a partner in the law firm of Carson Ryan LLC, a Roswell, New Mexico firm specializing in the oil and gas industry. Previously, he served as General Counsel to Mack Energy Corporation and as a partner in the Roswell, New Mexico office of Hinkle, Hensley, Shanor & Martin, LLP. Carson also served for two years as law clerk to the Honorable Bobby R. Baldock of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

He is admitted to practice before the New Mexico Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico.

Carson currently serves on the legal committees for both the Independent Producers Association of New Mexico and the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association and as a member of the Board of Litigation for Mountain States Legal Foundation.

Carson earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 1997. While attending law school, he served as administrative editor of the Natural Resources Journal and earned honors in clinical law. He also holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Texas Tech University.

 

Caleb Chandler

Commissioner
Clovis
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2014

Caleb Chandler serves on numerous boards and commissions, including the New Mexico DWI Grant Council, the New Mexico Canadian River Compact and the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority. Previously, Chandler served in the New Mexico Senate (1977-1989) and the Curry County Board of Commissioners (2009-2012).

Chandler spent 24 years as a member of the Clovis Police Department, serving as Chief of Police for more than eight years. In addition, he served as a magistrate judge for 12 years and is a former member of the New Mexico Judicial Standards Commission.

Chandler earned his law enforcement certification from the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy and received advanced training in law enforcement at the National FBI Academy.

 

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.

 

Mark A. Filosa

Commissioner
Truth or Consequences
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2012

Mark A. Filosa grew up in Chicago and attended Southern Illinois University, where he earned a degree in bachelor's degree journalism in 1979. After graduating, he wrote for a group of business trade journals while attending law school at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago in 1983. After graduating from law school, he moved to Truth or Consequences and became law partners with former U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie C. Smith until Judge Smith's appointment to the bench. His father, Anthony J. Filosa, later joined his law practice and the firm became Filosa & Filosa.

Filosa is heavily involved in local and state bar association activities, having served on the Bar Commission for two terms and on the Judicial Standards Commission. He has been a part-time Special Master for Domestic Violence and Juvenile cases in the Third and Seventh Judicial districts. In his spare time, he enjoys playing golf and spending time with his four grandchildren.

 

Patrick S. Freeman

Commissioner
Truth or Consequences
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2008

Patrick S. Freeman is a mining consultant. He previously was president of St. Cloud Mining Company, a project manager for Lordsburg Mining Company, and a senior geologist at Texasgulf, Inc.

Freeman has been a member of the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration since 1970. He is a member of the New Mexico Mining Commission of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department and served on the Director's Advisory Board.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geology at Monmouth College in 1968 and has been a Certified Professional Geological Scientist of the American Institute of Professional Geologists since 1984.

He currently serves as a Citizen's Review Board member for the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department in Sierra County and previously was a board member of the Sierra Vista Hospital and Sierra County Chamber of Commerce.

 

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.

 

David Hunton

Commissioner
Portales
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2014

David Hunton has worked in the insurance industry for more than 35 years and has a long history of service to the community. He founded Hunton Insurance in Portales in 1985, specializing in auto, life and health insurance. In 2003, Hutton expanded his agency to include a location in Roswell.

He currently serves as a member of the Eastern New Mexico University Alumni Association and the Roosevelt County Community Development Corps. He has also served as president of the Portales Lions Club and is a former chair of Region IV Housing Authority.

Hunton earned his Bachelor in Business Administration degree from Eastern New Mexico University in 1979.

 

Lorri McKnight

Commissioner
Alto
JPEC MEMBER SINCE 2009

Lorri McKnight is a Certified Public Accountant with the offices of Ronnie L. Hemphill, PC, CPA in Ruidoso. She was formerly vice president of mortgage lending for City Bank New Mexico. She has more than 33 years of professional experience, including previous positions as manager and finance director for the Village of Ruidoso, bank examiner for the State of New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department Financial Institutions Division, and as a Certified Public Accountant.

She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, and a Master of Business Administration degree in Management and Organizational Behavior from the University of Houston in Houston, Texas. In addition, she completed doctoral studies at the University of Houston and accounting courses at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. She is a licensed CPA.

McKnight is a former board member and secretary for the Alto Lakes Golf & Country Club and currently serves on The Finance Commission. She is a former member of Kiwanis, the Rotary Club, and a graduate of both Leadership Lincoln and Leadership New Mexico. She served as president of the New Mexico City Manager's Association from 2005-2007 and is a former board member of the Ruidoso Valley Chamber of Commerce.

 

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

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.

 

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.

 

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