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            Texas Appeals Courts Candidates

                  Court of Appeals Districts

Court of Criminal Appeals

This is one court with nine justices. It is the final appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases. The court may choose whether or not to review a case. The only cases that the court must hear are those that involve sentencing decisions in capital punishment cases and other cases involving liberty issues, such capital punishment cases, cases where bail has been denied and habeas cases where a person being detained attempts to prove some constitutional right has been violated as a result of their detention. The court is based in the state capital, Austin. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals hears both mandatory and discretionary cases. "All cases that result in the death penalty are automatically directed to the Court of Criminal Appeals from the trial court level. A significant portion of the Court’s workload also involves the mandatory review of applications for post-conviction habeas corpus relief in felony cases without a death penalty, over which the Court has sole authority. In addition, decisions made by the intermediate courts of appeals in criminal cases may be appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeals by petition for discretionary review, which may be filed by the State, the defendant, or both. However, the Court may also review a decision on its own motion."Article V of the Texas Constitution vests the judicial power of the state in the court, describes the court's jurisdiction. It also details the rules for judicial eligibility, elections, and filling vacancies on the court between elections.

Judicial Selection

The court is composed of a presiding judge and eight judges. Each judge serves a six-year term. They are elected in staggered partisan elections. In the event of a midterm vacancy, the governor appoints a replacement who must be confirmed by the Texas Senate. The appointee serves until the next general election, in which he or she may compete to serve for the remainder of the unexpired term. While no judge older than 74 may run for office, sitting judges who turn 75 are permitted to remain on the court until their terms expire.

Qualifications

To serve on any of the appellate courts, a judge must be:

  • a U.S. citizen

  • a resident of Texas

  • licensed to practice law in the state

  • between the ages of 35 and 75

  • a practicing lawyer and/or judge for at least 10 years

Salary 

Chief: $187,800, Associates: $184,800

Jurisdiction:​

Statewide

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Source: https://ballotpedia.org/Texas_Court_of_Criminal_Appeals

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Holly Eileen Taylor for Presiding Judge Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 1 is a lawyer in Austin, Texas licensed to practice in Texas by the State Bar of Texas. The license date is on November 3, 1995. The lawyer's employer is Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (Government Lawyer). The practice location is at Austin, Texas. The practice areas include Criminal, Appellate: Criminal. The lawyer was graduated from University of Texas.  The current status of the lawyer is Eligible to Practice in Texas. She has no public disciplinary history.

Source: https://www.texasbar.com/am/template.cfm?Template=/Customsource/MemberDirectory/MemberDirectoryDetail.cfm&contactid=156707

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Presiding Judge Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 1

Term ends 2024 

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 2

Term ends 2028

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 3 

Term ends 2026

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 4 

Term ends 2026

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 5 

Term ends 2028

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 6 

Term ends 2026

Appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 7 Judge Nancy Muller

Criminal District Court 6, a felony court with jurisdiction in Dallas County. She is the only candidate in this race with judicial experience and a track record of public service.Judge Mulder was first elected to Dallas County Criminal Court 4 in 2014, and she now has more than 20 years of combined legal and judicial experience. In addition to her normal work, Judge Mulder's judicial peers elected her as Presiding Judge of the Criminal Courts and County Courts of Criminal Appeals, and she served a two-year term. Judge Mulder is Co-Chair of the Step-Up Jail Pre-Trial Release Program. She partnered with local labor unions to provide job training to young offenders processed through her court. She is also Chair, City of Dallas Cite & Release program for misdemeanor marijuana possession. Judge Mulder has performed additional service including: Member, Criminal Justice Advisory Board; Member, Faith in Texas Criminal Justice Advisory Board; Board Member, The Heads Up! Foundation, providing after-school and summer basketball camps of or at-risk youth; Board Member, A Chance for Change, rehabilitation center for women; Implementation Board Member, Dallas County Pre-Trial Release Division; and partnering with the Dallas County Commissioners Court on a range of jail intake and release process reviews. As a fluent Spanish speaker, Judge Mulder regularly handles pleas in Spanish in open court. Before working on the bench, Judge Mulder was a criminal defense attorney in private practice from 2007 to 2014, and she served as an Assistant District Attorney for Dallas County from 1995 to 2007. She is a graduate of St. Mary's University School of Law. She has volunteered on numerous Democratic campaigns, including service as a Dallas County Democratic Party Precinct Chair.

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Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 7 

Term ends 2024

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 8 Judge Chika Anyiam 

Over a career spanning more than two decades in Dallas County, Judge Anyiam has been committed to the practice of criminal law and now presiding over Texas Criminal District Court #7. She is committed to the concepts of fairness and equal access to justice, and a true passion for public service. Judge Anyiam has broad experience in all aspects of criminal law, both from her current role as a jurist and through her long legal career before coming to the bench. Judge Anyiam's mission is to maintain a courtroom in which the pursuit of justice is paramount. She believes that a judge's first and most important role is to be a steward of the law and to provide a forum in which both sides of an issue are heard. Judge Anyiam is also fully committed to modern reforms that have defined the judicial system in Dallas County, namely keeping dangerous criminals off the streets and holding them accountable, but also extending rehabilitative assistance to drug offenders, minor offenders and the mentally ill as appropriate. Judge Anyiam also supports the use alternative sentencing, and enacting bail reform to keep low-risk offenders out of our jail population.

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Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 8 

Term ends 2024

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Place 9 

Term ends 2026

The 14 courts of appeals have intermediate appellate jurisdiction in both civil and criminal cases appealed from district or county courts. Each court of appeals has jurisdiction in a specific geographical region of the state. Each court is presided over by a chief justice and has at least two other justices. The specific number of justices on each court is set by statute and ranges from three to 13. Presently there are 80 justices authorized for these courts. Appeals in the courts of appeals are usually heard by a panel of three justices, unless an en banc hearing is ordered in a particular case, in which instance all the justices of a court hear and consider the case. 

Justices

of the Texas Court of Appeals are selected in district level partisan elections. The elected justices serve six-year terms, after which they must run for re-election if they wish to remain on the court.

Qualifications

To serve on the Texas Court of Appeals, a justice must be:

  • a U.S. citizen;

  • a resident of Texas;

  • licensed to practice law in the state;

  • between the ages of 35 and 75;  

  • a practicing lawyer and/or judge for at least 10 years.

Chief justice

The chief justice of each district court is selected by voters at large. He or she serves in that capacity for a full six-year term.

Vacancies

In the event of a midterm vacancy, the governor appoints a replacement who must be confirmed by the Texas Senate. The appointee serves until the next general election, in which he or she may compete to serve for the remainder of the unexpired term.

Salary

In 2023, the associate judges of the court received a salary of $178,400, according to the National Center for State Courts.

Sources: https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1436367/1-counties-in-each-district-2005.pdf; https://ballotpedia.org/Texas_Third_District_Court_of_Appeals

1st Court of Appeals - Houston 

Jurisdiction:
Austin
, Colorado, Grimes, Washington, Brazoria, Fort Bend, Harris, Chambers, Galveston, and  Waller

Place 1 Chief Justice 

Appointed by Greg Abbott 2020

Term ends 2028

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Place 2 Justice Gordon Goodman (i) BA degree Magna Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania and his JD degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School both in Philadelphia.Justice Gordon Goodman was elected to the First Court of Appeals in 2018. He is a member of the Texas State Bar, Pennsylvania Bar, and Energy Bar Associations. Before serving on the bench, he started his career with the Whittenburg Law Firm in Amarillo, TX, where he focused on civil trials, appellate work, oil & gas law, banking law, and general practice. He subsequently served in senior positions for the Howell Corporation; E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co.; Conoco, Inc.; Occidental Petroleum Corporation; and most recently with NRG Energy. He has worked on professional advisory committees for the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Energy Oversight Committee. In connection with his advisory work, he has published many articles on finance, contracts, risk analysis, ethics, and governance. Within the community, Justice Goodman served on the Board of Directors for the Houston Area Urban League and on Advisory Boards for the Blaffer Gallery (as Chairman), the University of Houston’s College of Arts & Sciences (as Chairman), and the Jesse H. Jones School of Business at Texas Southern University.

Source: https://ballotpedia.org/Gordon_Goodman

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Place 2 Brendetta Scott Brendetta is a highly experienced attorney, court-appointed receiver, independent hearing examiner, and court-appointed mediator. She practices in the areas of personal injury, family law, evictions, foreclosures, collections, civil litigation, and bankruptcy. Ms. Scott, who has over 20 years of experience practicing law, has represented banks, credit unions, consumers, companies, debtors, creditors, and an official equity committee. She has also represented landlords and tenants in numerous contested matters. As an adjunct professor at Thurgood Marshall School of Law, she imparts her legal wisdom, where she taught Professional Responsibility and currently teaches Appellate Litigation. Ms. Scott's wide-ranging representation equips her with insightful and creative solutions, making her an adept communicator, negotiator, and litigator. Committed to securing the best possible outcomes, she passionately advocates for her clients.

Source:https://anthonyscottlaw.com/attorney

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Place 3 Justice Veronica Rivas-Molloy University of Texas at El Paso with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and Spanish. J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center. She served as an Articles Editor for the Houston Law Review and graduated with honors. Justice Rivas-Molloy was the first family member to get a college degree and first to become a lawyer. After law school, she worked as a law clerk for the Honorable Ewing Werlein, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, where I had the opportunity to work on a variety of civil and criminal matters, gaining invaluable experience as a young attorney.  She was exposed to many areas of the law, and more importantly, to rigorous legal analysis, extensive brief writing, and the ability to understand the inner workings of a courtroom and the importance of the rule of law to our democracy.​ Following my clerkship, she worked at the law firm of Baker Botts, LLP, where she continued to work on various litigation matters helping further refine my analytical, oral, and written advocacy skills. The practice was varied giving her the opportunity to work with individuals, and domestic and international clients across different industries handling small to large-scale matters.  During this time at Baker Botts, she also served as a volunteer prosecutor for the City of Houston, where she tried numerous administrative and criminal misdemeanor cases to the jury on a first-chair basis. For the last 10 years, she has worked at the law firm of Jones Walker, LLP advocating for clients and representing them in litigation and appellate matters across various industries.  Her experience is extensive, and it has prepared her well for the judicial position.

Source: https://veronicaforjustice.com/meet-veronica

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Place 4

Appointed by Governor Abbott

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Place 5 Justice Amparo Guerra graduated with distinction from St. George's School in Newport, Rhode Island. Justice Guerra graduated from Rice University, where she was on the President’s Honor Roll, with a double major in Latin American Studies and Sociology. She obtained her Juris Doctorate from the University of Houston Law Center, which awarded her a Dean’s Merit Scholarship, and two Public Interest Fellowships: one to work with Texas Rural Legal Aid, and the other with Farmworker Legal Services in Michigan. Justice Guerra interned with and clerked for United States District Judge Filemón Vela in the Southern District of Texas. Justice Guerra is multilingual. She received a Superior Certification in Commercial and Legal Spanish from the Madrid Chamber of Commerce, and she speaks Portuguese and Italian. Justice Amparo Monique Guerra was elected to the Texas First Court of Appeals in 2020, bringing her record of academic and professional excellence, as well as her diverse background, to the bench. She previously served as an Associate Municipal Judge for the City of Houston while practicing law full time. She was the youngest sitting judge on that court when she was originally appointed in 2005 at age 28. Justice Guerra was named a Texas Super Lawyer and has nearly 20 years’ experience handling complex civil cases, from start to finish, in state and federal, trial and appellate courts throughout Texas and other states. She represented all types of clients, from individuals and families, to businesses of all sizes: from sole proprietorships and small and mid-size companies, to some of the largest corporations in the world. She worked in law firms of various sizes, including small, mid-size, and large, ultimately becoming the first Hispanic partner at her national law firm.

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Place 6 Justice Sarah Beth Landau (i)  She earned a B.S. in economics and a B.A. in political science from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities in 1993 and a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law in 1998. Landau’s career experience includes working as an adjunct professor of law with Texas Southern University and an associate with Vinson & Elkins, LLP. Justice Sarah Beth Landau was elected to the First Court of Appeals in 2018.  Before taking the bench, Justice Landau worked in the appeals division of the Harris County Public Defender’s Office and for 10 years as an Assistant Federal Public Defender, doing trial and appellate work.  Justice Landau has over 20 years of legal experience and has handled over 600 appeals as an advocate in state and federal courts. She is the first public defender to be elected to the court. A frequent presenter on criminal law issues and appellate advocacy, Justice Landau taught Appellate Litigation for six years at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Justice Landau worked for several years in complex commercial litigation at Vinson & Elkins LLP in Houston and at Coudert Brothers LLP in New York.  She clerked for the Honorable Vanessa D. Gilmore in the Southern District of Texas after graduating from Columbia University School of Law. Justice Landau studied political science and quantitative economics at the University of Minnesota, graduating cum laude and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. 

Source: https://www.txcourts.gov/1stcoa/about-the-court/justices/justice-sarah-beth-landau/

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Place 7 Justice Julie Countiss (i) was elected to the First Court of Appeals in 2018. She received her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from University of Houston School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts from Southern Methodist University. She has practiced law–primarily civil litigation–for seventeen years and served as an assistant county attorney in Harris County prior to assuming the bench. She taught public school in the South Bronx, NYC as a Teach for America Corps member and continued teaching for two more years in Alief ISD upon her return to Texas.On May 28, 2019, Justice Countiss was appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas to serve on the Children’s Commission–a judicial commission for children, youth and families in Texas. She also serves as a judicial liaison to the Houston Bar Association’s Appellate Section and is a member of the National Association of Women Judges and the Judicial Section of the State Bar of Texas.

Source: https://www.txcourts.gov/1stcoa/about-the-court/justices/justice-julie-countiss/

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Place 8 Richard Hightower (i) received his bachelor’s degree in English from Baylor University in 1978 and he received his law degree from Baylor Law School in 1980. While in law school, he served as a Notes and Comments Editor on the Baylor Law Review. In 2018, Justice Hightower was  elected to the Texas First Court of Appeals. Justice Hightower began his legal career in Longview, Texas as an associate and then as a partner in the law firm of Sharp, Ward, Price, and Hightower. There, he was co-counsel in one case argued before the United States Supreme Court. In 1986, he relocated to Houston as a trial partner in the state-wide firm eventually known as Brown McCarroll & Oaks Hartline. In 2000, Justice Hightower opened his own law firm, Richard F. Hightower P.C., focusing on the interests of public-school districts and other educational entities and serving as a certified mediator in hundreds of legal disputes. Justice Hightower has argued in both state and federal appellate courts. He is rated AV Preeminent by Martindale Hubbell and has been recognized as a Texas Super Lawyer. He is a Life Fellow of the Houston Bar Association, a Fellow in the Texas Bar Foundation, and, prior to taking the bench, was an active member of the Texas Council of School Attorneys.

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Place 8 Ysidra Kyles has  a J.D. from Texas Southern University. She has her own law office in Houston. Practice Areas: Criminal, Litigation: Personal Injury. 

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Place 9 Justice Peter Kelly (i) earned a B.A. in history from Harvard University in 1985 and a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1990. Kelly’s career experience includes working as a partner with Kelly, Durham & Pittard, LLP and as an appellate justice. He has been affiliated with the following organizations:

  • Member, Texas Supreme Court Advisory Committee

  • Committee chair, member, and board member; Texas Trial Lawyers Association

  • President, Houston Trial Lawyers Association

  • Trustee, Texas Supreme Court Historical Society

  • Life fellow, Texas Bar Foundation

  • Co-author, appellate advocate; State Bar of Texas Appellate Section

  • Member, Houston Bar Association

  • Member, Bar Association of the Fifth Circuit

  • American Bar Association

  • American Association for Justice

  • University of Texas School of Law Dean's Roundtable

  • Fellow, American Bar Foundation and Texas Bar Foundation

  • Director, Texas Appleseed

Source:https://ballotpedia.org/Peter_Kelly_(Texas)

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Place 9 Amber Boyd-Cora J.D. Law at Thurgood Marshall School of Law

and Studied at University of Oregon. you should know ----Article date Jan 4, 2024 (In a case of first impression, the incumbent Place 9 justice at the First District Court of Appeals is asking the Texas Supreme Court to resolve whether a challenger can remain on the Democratic Party primary ballot. In 2023, the Texas Legislature enacted H.B. 2384, which created a list of criteria intended to establish professional qualifications viewable to the public for any person seeking elected office as a district court judge or appellate court justice. Lloyd Earl Kelley, counsel for the real party in interest, candidate Amber Michele Boyd-Cora, said Boyd-Cora is one of four black judicial candidates he is representing that have had their status on a ballot challenged by incumbents that use the new law to selectively exclude challengers of African-American origin.) She is on the Democratic Primary Ballot and is marked "accepted". 

Sources:

https://candidate.texas-election.com/Elections/getQualifiedCandidatesInfo.do

https://www.law.com/radar/card/judges-face-off-in-court-in-case-of-first-impression-over-judicial-elections-401-83252/

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2nd Court of Appeals - Fort Worth
Jurisdiction:
Archer, Denton, Montague, Wichita, Clay, Hood, Parker,  Wise,  Cooke,  Jack,  Tarrant,  Young

Place 1 Chief Justice

Appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott

Place 2

Appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott

Place 3

Appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott

Place 4

Appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott

Place 5

Appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott

Place 6

Appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott

Place 7

3rd Court of Appeals - Austin
Jurisdiction:
Bastrop, Comal, Lee, San Saba, Bell, Concho, Llano, Schleicher, Blanco, Fayette, McCulloch, Sterling, Burnet, Hays, Milam, Tom Green, Caldwell, Irion, Mills, Travis, Coke, Lampasas, Runnels, and Williamson

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Place 1 Chief Justice Darlene Byrne (i)  Her current term ends on December 31, 2026. Byrne received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center where she graduated magna cum laude and was a member of the law review’s editorial board and an Order of the Coif member.Justice Darlene Byrne served for 20 years as the presiding judge of the 126th Judicial District Court in Travis County.  She was a general jurisdiction trial judge presiding over civil matters, but her passion was serving as the presiding judge over all the foster children in Travis County for 17 of her 20 years of service to the trial bench.  In that role, she received not only local recognition for her work serving foster children and their families, but also statewide and national recognition for her court improvement work in this area. Justice Byrne is the founding judge of the Travis County Family Drug Treatment Court and the Travis County Model Court of Children, Youth and Families.  She also pioneered the development of a Dual Status Youth docket, serving youth that were in the child welfare court and the juvenile justice court simultaneously.  These programs have been serving and continues to serve children and families in the Travis County District Courts for over a decade resulting in better outcomes for these children and families. She was appointed by the Texas Supreme Court to serve as the first Vice Chair of the Texas Children’s Commission and continues to serve as a Commissioner.   She is a past President of the National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges and a past Judge of the Year of National CASA, Texas CASA and CASA of Travis County.   She is a past recipient of the many local, statewide and national awards due to her work in the area of child welfare, such as awards from the State of Texas’ Child Protection Roundtable, Foster Angels, Seedling Foundation, Texas Appleseed, University of Houston Law Center, Any Baby Can, Travis County Women’s Lawyers Association, Austin Child Guidance Center and the YMCA of Greater Austin. Justice Byrne currently serves as co-chair of the Judicial Council for National CASA, is an Advisory Council member for TexProtects,  Partnerships for Children, Carrying Hope and the Seedling Foundation.  She is the Chair of the Texas Statewide Collaborative for Trauma Informed Care, on the Editorial Review Board for NCJFCJ’s Juvenile and Family Court Journal and on the Advisory Committee for the national #WeToo project for Courts.  She speaks locally, statewide, and nationally on many legal issues, but primarily on the children and families whose lives are impacted by the court system. Prior to her election in 2000, she practiced for thirteen years in the areas of employment, commercial and governmental entity litigation. 

Source:https://www.txcourts.gov/3rdcoa/about-the-court/justices/chief-justice-darlene-byrne/

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Place 2 Justice Edward Smith (i) earned a B.S. in political science from Texas A&M University in 2001 and a J.D. from Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in 2005. Smith’s career experience includes working as an associate attorney with Brayton Purcell and with Hissey Kientz. I’m a native Texan with a law practice that has spanned multiple jurisdictions. Justice Smith is a native Texan that has clerked with the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara and worked for both large and small personal injury firms representing injured workers and their families. Cases ranged from million dollar personal injury claims to typical business disputes. My career has aimed at solving problems with pragmatic solutions.

Community service: 

  • mentoring young professionals, high school, college, and law students

  • giving back to the legal community by sharing my knowledge and expertiseas a speaker at many continuing legal education conferences

  • member of the Barbra Jordan Inn of Court which is an organization that provides community building, education and professional development

He has also supported and volunteered with many local organizations such as Austin ISD schools, Austin Parks Foundation, ministries at University United Methodist Church and Community First! Village.

Source: https://www.smithforjustice.com

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Place 2 Maggie Ellis Bachelor of Science UT Austin, J.D.Baylor University School of Law  She survived a childhood marked by poverty, transience, homelessness, and educational deprivation to become the only one of her eight siblings to graduate from college. She was a teacher, a foster mother, a community volunteer, and put herself through law school, driving back and forth from Austin to Waco every day, as a mother with four teenagers. As an Administrative Law Judge, a civil, criminal, and appellate prosecutor, and an attorney representing individuals and families all over Central Texas, Maggie has extensive and relevant experience. Maggie will bring her experience of overcoming adversity, her hard work, her commitment to justice, and her compassion for others to the bench. A proud and very active member of the Central Texas community for over thirty-five years, Maggie has been a Democratic Party Precinct Chair, Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrar, an Officer with the Capital Area Progressive Democrats and the Austin Environmental Democrats, a volunteer with Meals on Wheels, Mobile Loaves and Fishes, Helping Hand Home, Leander ISD (PTA President, Vice President, Zoning Board), volunteer Spanish and English teacher and mentor, AISD HOSTS Mentor, and legal volunteer and advocate through Volunteer Legal Services, Hays County Pro Bono Clinic, Raices, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, Travis County Child Welfare Board, the Supreme Court Children's Commission Child Welfare and Juvenile Law work groups, and she currently serves as Chair Elect of the State Bar Juvenile Law Section Board.

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Place 2 Melissa Lorber Bachelors in Journalism and Political Science from University of Arizona and JD from the University of Texas School of Law with honors. Newspaper reporter for the Arizona Daily Star and the San Antonio Express-News reporting on Bexar County courts and the Texas Legislature. Editor in Chief of The Review of Litigation and as President of the Women’s Law Caucus. 22 years representing clients in hundreds of cases in Texas courts of appeals, including the Third Court of Appeals and Texas Supreme Court. She has the respect and support of Texas lawyers who practice before the courts of appeals and is Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law.. Worked a fellowship at a women’s shelter and with the District Attorney’s Office. Children’s Rights Clinic, where she was appointed as an attorney ad litem for children in foster care. Her legal research and writing seminar paper, which focused on child abuse and neglect, was published in the American Journal of Criminal Law. After law school Melissa became a volunteer advocate for CASA of Travis County and has continued her service for more than 20 years. Associate at Winstead PC, focusing on trial and appellate litigation. Melissa helped found Enoch Kever PLLC which specializes in appeals, administrative law, and civil litigation.  Enoch Kever has grown to have more than 20 lawyers. The majority of both the lawyers and the partners are women, helping Enoch Kever earn the Travis County Women Lawyers' Association's "Outstanding Firm" award in 2018. At Enoch Kever, Melissa  has been involved in more than 250 appeals and regularly presents oral arguments in the Texas courts of appeals, Texas Supreme Court, and U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. She is one of only a handful of attorneys who has presented two Texas Supreme Court arguments in the same day! Melissa has been Board Certified in Civil Appeals since 2017, served a five-year term in leadership of the Austin Bar Association Civil Appellate Section (including as Chair in 2019-2020), and regularly makes presentations on appellate, litigation, and other legal topics. She also serves on the Board for the Travis County Women Lawyers' Association and has been actively involved for many years with two Central Texas non-profit organizations: CASA of Travis County and Impact Austin, a women's collective giving organization that provides grants to Central Texas non-profits. As part of Impact Austin's Grants Leadership Team, Melissa helps lead female philanthropists through the process of reviewing grant applications from non-profit agencies serving the needs of Central Texans to select recipients of annual Community, Education, Equity, and Health & Well-Being grants. 

Source: https://www.melissaforjustice.com/about

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Place 3 Justice Chari Kelly (i)  earned a B.A. in political science and criminology from the University of Florida and a J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. Justice Chari L. Kelly is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS) and the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) in Criminal Law. She has served as both a defense attorney and a prosecutor and is also a seasoned civil litigator. Justice Kelly is a U.S. Army Veteran and former paratrooper. She was a captain in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps at Fort Hood, and was certified by the United States Naval Justice School to defend death penalty cases. Before her election to the Third Court, Justice Kelly served as an Assistant District Attorney for both Comal and Travis Counties, handling all aspects of felony criminal prosecutions. She has tried more than 35 jury trials, including aggravated sexual assault of a child, attempted capital murder, and kidnapping. In 2018, Justice Kelly was named the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Prosecutor of the Year for Travis County. Justice Kelly worked as both a Research Attorney and Law Clerk at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, where she drafted majority and en banc opinions on Petitions for Discretionary Review and direct death penalty opinions. As a prosecutor, she authored direct and interlocutory appeals and argued before the Third and Thirteenth Courts of Appeals. Justice Kelly has also served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Medicaid Fraud Division, where she was responsible for all aspects of investigation and litigation. She was the lead attorney in a healthcare fraud investigation against an international pharmaceutical company resulting in a $19.9 million settlement for the taxpayers of Texas. Justice Kelly is an Adjunct Professor in the Advocacy Department in The University of Texas School of Law, where she teaches trial techniques and procedures. She is a past-president of the Austin Young Lawyers Association, a director of the Austin Bar Association, and a member of the Robert W. Calvert Inn of Court.

Source:https://www.txcourts.gov/3rdcoa/about-the-court/justices/justice-chari-l-kelly/

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Place 4 Justice Rosa Theofanis (i) Justice Theofanis received her bachelor's degree with a concentration in Comparative Literature from Brown University, where she was a Rose Writing Fellow and spent her junior year studying at the University of Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain. Justice Theofanis attended the University of Texas School of Law, where she was awarded an Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Law and interned in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague.  Working with lawyers from legal systems around the globe gave Justice Theofanis a grounding in fundamental precepts of law that continues to inform her career. Prior to being elected to Texas’ Third Court of Appeals in 2022, Rosa Theofanis served as an Assistant District Attorney for Travis County, including ten years in the appellate division.  There, she represented the State of Texas in appeals of convictions for felony and juvenile offenses committed in Travis County, as well as in appeals of civil suits affecting parental rights, original proceedings, and post-conviction matters. Justice Theofanis began her career in public service as an Assistant County Attorney for Travis County, and subsequently worked for a non-profit agency in Washington, D.C. providing civil legal services to survivors of domestic violence.  Justice Theofanis has prosecuted more than twenty jury trials with successful verdicts in both criminal and civil cases.  She has handled appeals before nine of Texas' intermediate courts of appeals and has presented oral argument in the courts of appeals, the Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Justice Theofanis is admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and in the United States Supreme Court. Justice Theofanis attended the University of Texas School of Law, where she was awarded an Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Law and interned in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague.  Working with lawyers from legal systems around the globe gave Justice Theofanis a grounding in fundamental precepts of law that continues to inform her career. Justice Theofanis has served as an adjunct professor, teaching a course on legal writing at the University of Texas School of Law for three years.  She has presented at professional conferences, including the Dawson Conference on Criminal Appeals.  

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Place 5 Justice Thomas J. Baker (i) He earned a B.A. in government from the University of Texas in 1980 and a J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center in 1983. Prior to serving on the court, Justice Baker had a civil practice, specializing in family law and including appellate practice, in Bell County and nearby Central Texas counties. He was Board Certified in Family Law in 2010 and has been a member of the College of the State Bar for more than 15 years. Justice Baker was admitted to the United States District Court, Western District, in 1995. He was previously admitted to the United States District Court, Southern District in 1984. He was admitted to practice in military courts in 1984. Justice Baker was most recently a partner and owner in the firm of Baker & Tisdale PLLC, with principal office in Killeen and satellite office in Belton. Prior to entering private practice, Justice Baker served as an Assistant County Attorney from 1992 to 1994 for Bee County, Texas. Justice Baker was commissioned in the United States Naval Reserve in 1983 and graduated from Naval Justice School in 1984, after which he served as a Lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He served three tours of duty at Naval Legal Service Office, Naval Air Station Corpus Christi and Command Judge Advocate, Naval Air Station Agana, Guam, and Assistant Staff Judge Advocate, Naval Reserve Force Command, New Orleans, from 1984 to 1991. He was awarded two Navy Commendation Medals, the second for mobilization support for Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Justice Baker attended the University of Texas at El Paso and earned a Bachelor of Journalism with honors in 1979 and Bachelor of Arts in Government in 1980 with high honors at the University of Texas at Austin. He was awarded a Doctor of Jurisprudence at the University of Houston Law Center in 1983. Justice Baker served in the Lone Star Legal Aid Volunteer Lawyers Program for Bell County and in support of legal aid services to veterans and family violence victims.

Source:https://www.txcourts.gov/3rdcoa/about-the-court/justices/justice-thomas-j-baker/

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Place 5 Judge Karin Crimp is a judge of the Texas 250th District Court. Crump received her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas, and her J.D. from St. Mary's University School of Law. Crump was an attorney focused on dispute resolution prior to becoming a judge. 

A recognized leader, Judge Karin Crump has been honored by the State Bar of Texas for fostering collaboration within the legal community, appointed to the Editorial Board of the State Bar Litigation Section’s official publication, and is dedicated to diversifying the legal profession as a mentor and the judicial liaison for the Youth Justice Alliance. Her call to service has been just as broad: President of the Texas Young Lawyers Association, Board of Directors for the Texas Bar Foundation, Chair of a Texas Supreme Court Task Force to expand the delivery of legal services, and co-founder of the Austin Bar/AYLA Leadership Academy, which now has hundreds of graduates. Judge Crump is currently President of the Texas Association of District Judges. Judge Crump’s legal career has spanned the gamut: criminal law, complex civil litigation, family law, and dispute resolution, all while being recognized for her commitment to pro bono services. In 2014, she was elected to the bench, where she has since presided over the 250th District Court in Travis County.

Awards

  • Outstanding Young Lawyer of Dallas

  • Best Lawyers in Dallas Under 40, D Magazine

  • Texas Super Lawyer - Rising Star in Litigation and Alternate Dispute Resolution, Texas Monthly Magazine (7 times)

  • Outstanding Mentor of the Year, Austin Young Lawyers Association

  • Pathfinder, Travis County Women Lawyers Association

  • Pro Bono Award

Associations

  • Past president, Texas Young Lawyers Association

  • Past member, State Bar of Texas Board of Directors Executive Committee

  • Past member, Texas Bar Journal Board of Editors

  • Past chair, Supreme Court’s Task Force to Expand Legal Service Delivery

  • Past president, Grandview Hills PTA

​Sources: https://ballotpedia.org/Karin_Crump, https://www.judgekarincrump.com/?fbclid=IwAR0MQUjtHXdxlA2TcHtOLMwFxZu3D-ZfAfG1o5S_HLyZNUyYDZCBwAVi8tU

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Place 6 Justice Gisela D. Triana (i) graduated magna cum laude and earned a B.A. from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a J.D. from the University of Texas Law School and has conducted training sessions for judges all over Texas on legal matters such as emergency protective orders, arraignment, magistration, and legal procedures. She has been a faculty member of The University of Texas International Office’s U.S. Law Program, which instructs foreign judges and lawyers on United States Law. Triana’s career experience includes working as Trial Division director with the Travis County Attorney’s Office and as staff attorney with the Texas Secretary of State’s Election Division. Prior to being elected to the Texas Third Court of Appeals in 2018, Justice Gisela D. Triana had served on every level of Texas trial courts. She comes to the Third Court with over 23 years of experience on a trial bench, in both criminal and civil courts. Most recently, Justice Triana served for 14 years as the 200th District Court Judge, presiding over hundreds of cases involving complex civil cases. Before that, Justice Triana served as a Travis County Court at Law Judge. In that Court of criminal jurisdiction, she is recognized for stabilizing the Court’s docket and disposing of a massive backlog. Justice Triana has also served as a City of Austin Municipal Court Judge and as a Travis County Justice of the Peace. Justice Triana began her legal career as a prosecutor in the Travis County Attorney’s Office, where her work included representing victims of domestic violence and later served as the Director of the Trial Division in that office. Justice Triana also served as a Staff Attorney in the Texas Secretary of State’s Election Division and ran her own private law firm, Hanko & Triana, focusing on criminal and family law. Justice Triana’s service to our community also extends beyond her years of work on the bench. She has participated in Austin Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts, Volunteer Legal Services, Legal Line, the Pro-Bono College, Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, the Children’s Justice Act Task Force, Travis County Juvenile Board, Travis County Child Protective Services Board, Austin Recovery, and Chaired Middle Earth (helping homeless youth in Travis County).

Source: https://www.txcourts.gov/3rdcoa/about-the-court/justices/justice-gisela-d-triana/

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4th Court of Appeals - San Antonio
Jurisdiction:
Atascosa, Gillespie, Kinney, Starr, Bandera, Guadalupe, La Salle Sutton, Bexar, Jim Hogg, McMullen, Uvalde, Brooks, Jim Wells, Mason, Val Verde, Dimmit, Karnes, Maverick, Webb, Duval, Kendall, Medina, Wilson, Edwards, Kerr, Menard, Zapata, Frio, Kimble, Real, and  Zavala

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Place 1 Chief Justice Rebecca Martinez graduated from Incarnate Word Academy with honors and later earned distinction as a University Scholar at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Chief Justice Martinez received her law degree from Boston University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts and upon graduation was the honored recipient of the Faculty Award. After clerking with a large prestigious Boston law firm, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky & Popeo, P.C., Chief Justice Martinez returned to Texas to serve with U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Southern District Eduardo de Ases, and later for Justice Federico Hinojosa on the Thirteenth Court of Appeals. Chief Justice Martinez's private practice began as associate counsel at Thornton, Summers, Biechlin, Dunham Brown. She provided representation and trial defense to individuals, small businesses, and large corporations. Her practice included every aspect of defending cases involving personal injury, premises and products liability, construction defect, oil and gas, environmental and toxic tort, as well as multi-party class action defense in both state and federal courts. Chief Justice Martinez also served as Of Counsel to the Law Offices of Ramon Garcia, P.C. in Edinburg, Texas, one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Texas. As President of her own litigation practice for almost 14 years, managing 3 offices and as many as 16 employees, Rebeca continued to represent individuals and entities involved in multi-party litigation both in state and federal court, including actions involving toxic tort, product defect, premises and property liability claims. After moving to San Antonio, Chief Justice Martinez enlarged her practice to include family law and criminal defense in civil and criminal trial courts in Bexar County and across South Texas. As a member of the State Bar Pro Bono College, the College of the State Bar, the Joseph M. Pritchard Inn, the William S. Session Inns of Court, among others, Chief Justice Martinez has been recognized for her outstanding service to the legal profession and to the public. She is a Sustaining Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and the San Antonio Bar Foundation and has served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Woman Judges, the Curriculum Committee for the Texas Center for the Judiciary, and the Mexican American Bar Association, to name just a few. She is a frequent author and speaker at continuing legal education programs hosted by the State Bar and affinity groups. Chief Justice Rebeca Martinez currently serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board of her alma mater, Boston University School of Law, the Purple Campaign, and the University of Texas’ LBJ School of Public Policy’s Women’s Campaign School. She is serving a second term on the Board of Directors of the State Bar of Texas Judicial Section. 

 Martinez began her career as a law clerk. She then worked as a private practice attorney until her judicial election in 2012. 

Awards and associations

  • Member, College of the State Bar

  • Member, Pro Bono College of the State Bar

  • Member, American Bar Association

  • Member, Joseph M. Pritchard Inn

  • Member, Texas State Bar Association

  • Member, Bexar County Women’s Bar Association

  • Member, San Antonio Bar Association

  • Member, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association

  • Member, San Antonio Criminal Defense Lawyers Association

  • Member, State Bar of Texas Litigation Section, Appellate Section, Criminal Justice Section

Source: https://ballotpedia.org/Rebeca_Martinez, https://www.txcourts.gov/4thcoa/about-the-court/justices/chief-justice-rebeca-martinez/

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Place 2 Justice Beth Watkins(i) earned a B.A. from the University of Missouri - Columbia in 1999 and a J.D. from St. Mary's University School of Law in 2002. While in law school, Beth competed on St. Mary’s moot court team and won the American Bar Association National Appellate Advocacy Competition and was recognized as the best speaker in the nation. She was also inducted into the National Order of Barristers and received the Patricia L. Scott Award—an accolade reserved for St. Mary’s most outstanding advocate.Watkins' career experience includes working as a briefing attorney with the Texas Fourth District Court of Appeals and as an attorney for Watkins Appeals PLLC. Beth is board certified in civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Beth is the only justice currently sitting on the Fourth Court of Appeals who is board certified in civil appellate law. She has served as President of the San Antonio Bar Association, the San Antonio Bar Foundation, and the Community Justice Foundation. She currently serves on the State Bar of Texas’s Grievance Committee, and on the Board of Editors for the State Bar’s Texas Bar Journal. Beth currently serves on the amicus committee of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, and has served on the Board of Directors of the San Antonio Trial Lawyers Association.

Beth Watkins was board certified in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 2008, and was re-certified in 2013 and again in 2018.

Other Admissions:

  • US Supreme Court (2007)

  • US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (2003)

  • US District Court for the Western District of Texas (2003)

Source: https://keepbeth.com/about-beth-watkins/

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Place 2 Judge Velia J. Meza  earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Columbia University in 1995 and a J.D. degree from St. Mary's University School of Law in 2000. Her career experience includes owning her own practice, Velia J. Meza, Attorney at Law, P.C. Meza has practiced in Federal Courts in the Western District of Texas, Southern District of Texas, and in the Southern District of Illinois. is a judge of the Texas 226th District Court. She assumed office on January 1, 2019. Her current term ends on December 31, 2026. Velia Meza was re-elected to continue serving as Judge of the 226th District Court of Bexar County, Texas on November 8, 2022. Prior to winning election to serve, Velia practiced as a private attorney in for 16 years.  Velia has represented citizens accused of crimes in more than 30 counties across the State of Texas. Velia's expertise includes trials of major crimes, criminal appeals, family law, and other civil and administrative matters. Velia has practiced in Federal Courts in the Western District of Texas, Southern District of Texas, as well as in the Southern District of Illinois.  In the past five years, Velia has been very active in teaching and mentoring to young/new lawyers in Bexar County.  Velia enjoys presenting at Continuing Legal Education seminars as well as volunteering to teach trial advocacy to inner city high school students.  

Source: https://veliameza.com/about-velia 

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Place 3 Judge Cynthia Marie Chapa is a judge of the Texas 288th District Court. She assumed office on January 1, 2019. Her current term ends on December 31, 2026. Cynthia Marie Chapa earned a bachelor's degree in political science from St. Mary's University in 2002 and a J.D. degree from St. Mary's University School of Law in 2006. Her career experience includes working as a partner at the Law Offices of Arellano and Chapa and serving as the district director of State Representative Joaquin Castro since 2003.

Awards and Recognitions: 

St. Mary's Law School
Hispanic Law Alumni Association 
Sister Grace Walle Mentor of the Year Award

Communitee Outreach:

District Court Committee Assignments and Board

Auditor Oversight

Purchasing Board

Children’s Court Oversight

Technology

Bexar County Dispute Resolution Center

Advisory Board

Juvenile Board

Family Violence Prevention Program Sub-Committee

Source: https://www.chapafor288.com/

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Place 4 Justice Luz Elena Chapa (i) received her undergraduate degree and her J.D. from St. Mary's University.she was the youngest serving Hispanic justice in the State of Texas. Prior to her election, Justice Chapa practiced on both sides of the civil docket in counties across Texas, with a concentration in products liability litigation.

Career

  • 2013 - Present: Judge, Texas Fourth District Court of Appeals

  • 2010-2012: Attorney, Chapa Law Group, P.C.

  • 2005-2010: Attorney, Chapa & Nevarez, P.C.

  • 2002-2005: Attorney, Hartline, Dacus, Barger, Dreyer & Kern, L.L.P.

  • 2001-2002: Attorney, Barger, Hermansen, McKibben & Villarreal, L.L.P.

  • 2000-2001: Attorney, Oaxaca, Bernal & Associates

  • 1998-1999: Law clerk, Lyons & Rhodes, P.C.

  • 1997-1998: Law clerk, Law Offices of Frank Herrera, Jr.

  • 1997: Law clerk, The Center for Legal and Social Justice

  • 1995-1996: Legislative correspondent, Congressman Frank Tejeda

  • 1995: Intern, Congressman Lloyd Doggett

  • 1995: Intern, Cauthorn, Hale, Hornberger, Sheehan, Fuller & Becker

Associations

  • El Paso Bar Association, Former Member

  • El Paso Young Lawyers Association, Former Member

  • Mexican American Bar Association-El Paso, Former Member

  • Texas Women Lawyers, Former Member, Board of Directors & Treasurer

  • Corpus Christi Bar Association, Former Member

  • Corpus Christi Young Lawyers Association, Former Member

  • Coastal Bend Women Lawyers Association, Former Member

  • St. Mary’s University Alumni Association, Member

  • St. Mary’s University School of Law Alumni Association, Member

  • State Bar of Texas, Member

  • San Antonio Bar Association, Member

  • Bexar County Women’s Bar Association, Member

  • Bexar County Democratic Women, Member

  • Mexican American Bar Association-San Antonio, Member

Source: https://ballotpedia.org/Luz_Elena_Chapa

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Place 5 Liza A. Rodriguez (i) She earned a B.A. in political science and communications from the University of North Texas and a J.D. from St. Mary's University School of Law. Rodriguez’s career experience includes working as a county court administrator with Bexar County and an attorney with her own law firm. Prior to being elected to her current office in November of 2018, she was a solo practitioner with a focus on Criminal Defense and Family Law. Justice Rodriguez was also previously elected as a County Court at Law Trial Judge in 2010, during which time she was instrumental in the establishment of the first designated DWI Court in Bexar County. Early in her career she served the community as an Assistant District Attorney for ten years before going into private practice.She has been honored in Washington D.C. with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Distinguished Alumnus Award and has been featured on San Antonio’s “Rising Stars” radio program. She is currently a member of the San Antonio Bar Foundation and has served as a board member for the Mexican American Bar Association of San Antonio. Justice Rodriguez is the proud mother of two teenagers and is very involved with their extra-curricular activities. 

Source: https://www.txcourts.gov/4thcoa/about-the-court/justices/justice-liza-a-rodriguez/

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Place 6 Irene Alarcon Rios Rios received her undergraduate degree from Texas Tech University and her J.D. from St. Mary's University School of Law. In 1999, she was appointed by the Bexar County Commissioners Court as Judge of Bexar County, County Court at Law No. 10, where she served for 14 years. As a trial judge, Justice Rios presided over civil cases involving multiple areas of law, including consumer, contract, employment, tort, and landlord-tenant law. She also assisted with Drug Court and in cases involving the neglect and abuse of children, reviewed appeals of Administrative Law and Municipal Court judicial decisions, and presided over appeals from Justice of the Peace Courts. During her tenure at County Court at Law No. 10, Justice Rios additionally served as the 2007 Administrative Judge for the twelve county courts at law. Justice Rios has served on the Board of Trustees of St. Mary’s University and is a past President of St. Mary’s Law Alumni Association and Hispanic Law Alumni Association. She is a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and has served as a Special Master of Major Litigation.

  • Justice (2017-2022) Fourth Court of Appeals

  • Judge (1999-2013), Bexar County Court at Law No. 10

  • Administrative Judge (2007), Elected by Bexar County court at law judges to handle administrative matters and represent 12 courts

  • Licensed (1990) by the Supreme Court of Texas

  • Board Member (2018-2020), Texas Center for the Judiciary

  • Trustee (2015-2016), St. Mary’s University

  • Special Master of Major Litigation (2016)

  • President (2014), Law Alumni Association, St. Mary’s University School of Law

  • Member (2014), Law School Dean Search Committee, St. Mary’s University School of Law

  • Vice-Chair (2007-2013), San Antonio Municipal Court Advisory Committee

  • President (1996), Hispanic Law Alumni Association, St. Mary’s University School of Law

  • Fellow, Texas and San Antonio Bar Foundations

  • Graduate (1990), St. Mary’s University School of Law

Source: https://www.txcourts.gov/4thcoa/about-the-court/justices/justice-irene-rios/