S.D. Tex. Federal Court Judges

What you should know about Texas Southern District Federal Court Judges. Laws in Texas provides bios, cases and opinions from these lifetime judicial appts.


Former Magistrate Judge Stephen Wm. Smith, S.D. Houston Texas
Discusses “Judge Shopping” by the US Attorney’s Office

Current judges

As of October 31, 2019:

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
55 vacant
50 District Judge Jose Rolando Olvera Jr. Brownsville 1963 2015–present Obama
51 District Judge Fernando Rodriguez Jr. Brownsville 1969 2018–present Trump
45 District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos Corpus Christi 1965 2011–present Obama
52 District Judge David S. Morales Corpus Christi 1968 2019–present Trump
35 Senior Judge Janis Graham Jack Corpus Christi 1946 1994–2011 2011–present Clinton
53 District Judge Jeff Brown Galveston 1970 2019–present Trump
34 Chief Judge Lee H. Rosenthal Houston 1952 1992–present 2016–present G.H.W. Bush
26 District Judge Lynn Hughes Houston 1941 1985–present Reagan
36 District Judge Vanessa Gilmore Houston 1956 1994–present Clinton
39 District Judge Keith P. Ellison Houston 1950 1999–present Clinton
41 District Judge Andrew Hanen Houston 1953 2002–present G.W. Bush
48 District Judge Alfred H. Bennett Houston 1965 2015–present Obama
49 District Judge George C. Hanks Jr. Houston 1964 2015–present Obama
54 District Judge Charles R. Eskridge III Houston 1963 2019–present Trump
27 Senior Judge David Hittner Houston 1939 1986–2004 2004–present Reagan
28 Senior Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt Houston 1948 1988–2013 2013–present Reagan
29 Senior Judge Sim Lake Houston 1944 1988–2019 2019–present Reagan
33 Senior Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. Houston 1936 1992–2006 2006–present G.H.W. Bush
37 Senior Judge Nancy Friedman Atlas Houston 1949 1995–2014 2014–present Clinton
38 Senior Judge Hilda G. Tagle Houston 1946 1998–2012 2012–present Clinton
43 Senior Judge Gray H. Miller Houston 1948 2006–2018 2018–present G.W. Bush
12 Senior Judge Carl Olaf Bue Jr. inactive 1922 1970–1987 1987–present Nixon
24 Senior Judge Hayden Wilson Head Jr. inactive 1944 1981–2009 2003–2009 2009–present Reagan
30 Senior Judge Melinda Harmon inactive 1946 1989–2018 2018–present G.H.W. Bush
44 District Judge Diana Saldaña Laredo 1971 2011–present Obama
46 District Judge Marina Marmolejo Laredo 1971 2011–present Obama
25 District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa McAllen 1950 1983–present 2009–2016 Reagan
40 District Judge Randy Crane McAllen 1965 2002–present G.W. Bush
42 District Judge Micaela Alvarez McAllen 1958 2004–present G.W. Bush
31 Senior Judge John David Rainey Victoria 1945 1990–2010 2010–present G.H.W. Bush

A Texas appeals court affirmed judgments sanctioning South Texas lawyers Cheryl and Ronald Hole for failing to change the name of their law firm after former name partner Micaela Alvarez left the firm following her appointment as a federal district judge in McAllen, Texas in 2004.

A three-judge panel of the Thirteenth Court of Appeals in Edinburg concluded on Aug. 24 that a trial judge did not err by granting a partial summary judgment in favor of the Texas Commission for Lawyer Discipline because the commission conclusively established that Cheryl and Ronald Hole, whose firm is known as Hole & Alvarez, violated Rules 7.01(a) and (c) of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.

Rule 7.01(a) prohibits lawyers from practicing at a firm with a name that is misleading or contains names other than those at the firm, although the firm name can include the name of deceased or retired partners. Rule 7.01(c) prohibits the name of a lawyer occupying a judicial position from being used in the name of a firm while the lawyer is not actively practicing at the firm.

Ronald Hole, who represented himself and his wife before the appeals court, said he disagrees with the Aug. 24 memorandum opinion, and will seek a motion for rehearing.

The name is proper, he said. We do have an Alvarez in the firm as well.

He said the judge’s son, Javier Alvarez Martinez, became a nonparticipating partner at the firm after he passed the bar several years ago. Hole said Alvarez Martinez is based in Austin but does some work for the firm.

Judge Alvarez’s son is not listed as an attorney on the Hole & Alvarez firm website, but Hole said technical issues prevent him from updating the website.

Hole said the opinion does not properly address the statute of limitations issue he and his wife raised, since Judge Alvarez left Hole & Alvarez in December 2004 and the disciplinary suit was not filed until 2014. He said the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel was aware many years ago that they were using the Hole & Alvarez name, and the commission took no action until a lawyer he sued threatened to report me to the Bar.

My goal is to have the judgment thrown out and get my attorney fees back, Hole said.

Cynthia Canfield Hamilton, a senior appellate disciplinary counsel for the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel who handled the appeal, did not respond to a request for comment. Claire Mock, public affairs counsel for the office, declined comment.

In 2014, the commission filed the disciplinary suits against the Holes, alleging they were violating Rules 7.01(a) and (c) because they continued to use the Hole & Alvarez name in their practices.

Judge Rhonda Hurley of the 98th District Court in Travis County, who presided over the proceedings, denied motions for summary judgment filed by the Holes in the suits, but granted a partial summary judgment in favor of the commission, concluding that the commission had established as a matter of law that the Holes had violated the disciplinary rules. After those rulings, according to the opinion, the parties stipulated that the sanctions against Roland and Cheryl Hole would be no greater than a public reprimand and attorney’s fees.

On Nov. 1, 2015, Hurley signed final judgments of public reprimand against each of the lawyers for violating the disciplinary rules. The judge also ordered Cheryl Hole to pay $1,000 in attorney fees to the commission, and Ronald Hole to pay $1,500.

Benavides, joined on the appellate panel by Chief Justice Rogelio Valdez and Justice Nelda Rodriguez, held that the court agrees that the lawyers violated Rule 7.01(c) because Alvarez left the firm in December 2014 after she was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. A plain reading of Rule 7.01(c) states that the name of a lawyer occupying a judicial position shall not be used in the name of a firm, or in communications on its behalf, during a period in which the lawyer is not actively and regularly practicing with the firm, Benavides wrote.

Benavides also wrote that Rule 7.01(a) does permit a firm to include the name of a retired partner in the firm’s name, but in this case, Judge Alvarez was not a retired member of the firm because she did not terminate her career in the practice of law by becoming a federal judge.

Additionally, the court found that the Holes failed to conclusively prove the commission’s petitions were barred by the statute of limitations and found the commission did not waive its right to seek disciplinary proceedings against the Holes.

Texas Judge; $22.7m Libel Ruling Against Dow Jones Thrown Out

A federal judge in Houston threw out a $22.7-million libel ruling against Dow Jones & Co., saying that the plaintiff, a now-defunct Houston investment firm, withheld important evidence in the case.

U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein ordered a new trial, finding that MMAR Group Inc. won its favorable verdict in 1997 “through its own misconduct and misrepresentations,” preventing the publisher of the Wall Street Journal from presenting a full and fair defense.

Two months after the jury verdict, Werlein struck down the $200 million in punitive damages, letting stand actual damages of $22.7 million. In the original verdict, a jury decided that five sentences in an article by Laura Jereski published Oct. 21, 1993, were false and defamatory against MMAR. Lawyers for MMAR blamed the article for the investment firm’s demise later that year.

Dow Jones argued that the firm collapsed for other reasons and that the disputed sentences were accurate or substantially true.

In its latest motion, lawyers for Dow Jones argued that they discovered after the trial that MMAR had withheld audiotapes of conversations among MMAR executives that would have bolstered Dow Jones’ claims.



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