Judge Sarah Backus
TAOS ― Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Sarah Backus announced that she will retire at the end of next month after serving more than seven years on the court.
“It has been a great honor to serve the people of the Eighth Judicial District for the past seven and one half years,” Judge Backus said. “I appreciate their support and confidence in me, especially after my controversial ruling last August. In the thousands of cases I have heard, I have strived to uphold the law and to treat all people equally under the law regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or economic status, and to follow the law to the very best of my ability. I will very much miss the great judges and staff in our judicial district. I wish everyone continued success and happiness.”
Judge Backus submitted a letter Friday, Jan. 4, to the Chief Justice indicating her intent to retire from the bench at the end of February 2019. Judge Backus will continue to hear her cases until then.
“We are all extremely grateful for Judge Backus’s extraordinary leadership and service as Chief Judge and Senior Judge over the past seven and a half years,” Chief Judge Jeff McElroy said. “Her tenure has been stellar. We will all miss her tremendously and wish her equal success in her future endeavors.”
Judge Backus was appointed to the district court in June 2011 by then Gov. Susana Martinez, and was elected to the post in 2012. Voters elected to retain her as judge in 2014. She served as chief judge from August 2011 until January 2014. Judge Backus has been the presiding drug court judge for seven and a half years and the water judge. She has helped train new judges and currently serves as chair of the Supreme Court’s Drug Court Advisory Council.
She received her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. A resident of Taos for 25 years, Judge Backus worked in the Eighth Judicial District Attorney’s Office and was the planning director for the Town of Taos before joining the court.
An independent judicial nominating commission will screen applicants and recommend candidates to the governor for possible appointment to the upcoming vacancy on the district court. The appointee must run for partisan election in the next statewide election to remain on the court and, if elected, will be subject to a nonpartisan retention election at the end of their term. District judges serve six-year terms.