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US Senate confirms Riggs to federal court

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The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to confirm Kea Whetzal Riggs, a state district court judge and Roswell resident, for a U.S. District Court seat.

Senators voted 94 to 0 to approve the nomination of Riggs to be a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico in Albuquerque. She was one of a slew of President Donald Trump’s federal court nominees confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate Thursday.

New Mexico’s two U.S. senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, voted to confirm Riggs and applauded her confirmation in a joint press release.

“We are pleased to congratulate Judge Riggs on her Senate confirmation, and we are glad that this vacancy will be filled. Judge Riggs has a long record of distinguished service and is well qualified for this seat,” Udall and Heinrich stated in the release.

Calls to Riggs’ office for a response to her confirmation were not returned by press time Thursday.

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Trump nominated Riggs in May — with the recommendation of Udall and Heinrich — to fill the District Court post left vacant with the retirement of the Honorable Christina Armijo.

Riggs is the first female state district court judge in Chaves County. She was appointed in August 2014 by then-Gov. Susana Martinez to the 5th Judicial District Court following the retirement of Judge Charles Currier. A Republican, Riggs was unchallenged in her bid for a full term that November.

Before she was elected to her current post, Riggs was a part-time U.S. Magistrate Court Judge for the U.S District Court for the District of New Mexico from 2001 to 2014, according to a questionnaire for judicial nominees she filled out.

Riggs is a native of Midwest City Oklahoma and a graduate of the New Mexico Military Institute. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from the University of Oklahoma and a law degree from the University of Oklahoma School of Law.

Riggs’ career in the courtroom includes experience as an assistant district attorney for the state of New Mexico 3rd Judicial District in Doña Ana County, a senior trial prosecutor in the New Mexico 5th Judicial District, a children’s court attorney for the New Mexico Department of Children Youth and Families and an attorney in private practice.

Riggs has also been an adjunct professor at both Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell and New Mexico Highlands University, according to the information. She is the wife of Stanton Riggs, county manager for Chaves County.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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