David Morales, who was confirmed to fill the vacancy earlier this month, recited his oath of office at the federal courthouse in Corpus Christi as attorneys, family and friends watched.

Morales’ father helped him put on his black judge’s robe after he was sworn in.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Morales said. “I can’t tell you how excited I am to be coming home.”

The district’s newest federal judge thanked his family, his old scoutmaster who was in attendance and others.

“The oath that I just took — it is very weighty and I do not take the words I just swore (to) lightly,” Morales said.

The vacancy opened in 2011 when U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack took senior status. President Donald Trump in April 2018 nominated Morales for the seat. His nomination was left pending at the end of the year, and he was later re-nominated.

Morales was born in Edinburg, but grew up in Robstown after his family moved there when he was 9 months old. Morales said there were nearly a dozen federal judgeships he could have applied for consideration to, but only applied to the one he now fills.

“That’s because the thought of coming home and serving the area where I grew up, I believe, is the … best use of the talents God has given me,” he said.

Morales graduated from Incarnate Word Academy in Corpus Christi in 1986 and received his bachelor of business administration degree from St. Edward’s University in Austin. His juris doctorate is from St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio.

Morales was most recently a partner at at Kelly Hart & Hallman, LLP. His practice focuses  on complex litigation, administrative law, and public and higher education law.

He started his career as a law clerk in the Office of the Attorney General in 1994. His roles with the office over 17 years include deputy attorney general for civil litigation, deputy first assistant attorney general. He also served as general counsel for the Office of the Governor from 2011 to 2014.

Morales gained attention in 2016 for his role in the attorney general’s office. The Dallas Morning News reported his 2010 decision not to pursue a $5.4 million lawsuit against Trump and Trump University.

An ex-staffer in the attorney general’s office said the decision was politically motivated, but Morales strongly denied that. He said he made the decision without input from then Attorney General Greg Abbott and claimed any assertion otherwise was “false.”

Morale’s formal swearing-in ceremony is set for September. He can now take the bench.