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Riggs sworn in as newest US District Court judge


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Kea Riggs, a Roswell resident and state district court judge in Chaves County, was sworn in Tuesday as the newest United States District Court judge in New Mexico.

President Donald Trump signed her commission Tuesday, formally appointing Riggs to the position, according to a press release issued by the court. She was then administered the oath of office Tuesday afternoon in Roswell by Judge Bobby Baldock, a senior U.S. Circuit Court Judge.

Riggs could not be reached for comment before press time Wednesday.

A formal investiture ceremony for Riggs will be held in Albuquerque, where she will be stationed. The date of the investiture ceremony was not specified in the press release.

In her new position, Riggs will be one of seven U.S. District Court Judges in New Mexico. She will be paid $210,900 a year, according to the Federal Judicial Center, a research and educational agency of the United States judicial branch.

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Trump nominated Riggs in May to fill the seat on the court vacated by the Honorable Christina Armijo.

Riggs’ nomination was approved 94 to 0 by the U.S. Senate Dec.19. She was one of several Trump federal court nominees confirmed by the U.S. Senate before they adjourned for holiday recess.

Riggs has been the Division VII state district court judge in New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District for five years. She was appointed to the position in August 2014 by then-Gov. Susana Martinez following the retirement of Judge Charles Currier.

A Republican, Riggs ran unopposed in November 2014 to retain her seat for a full six-year term.

Born in Midwest City, Oklahoma, Riggs is a 1983 high school graduate of the New Mexico Military Institute. She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from the University of Oklahoma and a law degree in 1990 from the University Oklahoma School of Law.

Riggs has served as an assistant district attorney in New Mexico’s 3rd Judicial District in Doña Ana County, a senior trial prosecutor in New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District and a children’s court attorney with the New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department.

She also served in private practice, was an adjunct professor at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell and New Mexico Highlands University, and was a part-time U.S. Magistrate Judge from 2001 to 2014. Riggs is the wife of Stanton Riggs, county manager for Chaves County, and is the mother of two children.

With her appointment, Riggs is the second Roswell resident to be nominated by Trump to the federal bench. Joel Carson III was appointed by Trump in 2017 to a seat on the United States 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2018.

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

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