Written by Dr. Gilberto de los Santos
Edited By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez, Publisher
As originally published by Texas Border Business newsprint Edition
Judge Aida Salinas Flores has not forgotten where she came from; and this is a strong foundation for who she is. She grew up in a humble family in Sullivan City, and attended the La Joya schools. The judge saw the plight of her family, with her father disabled because of emphysema and the only jobs in the area were with the school district and political. She knew that her family’s livelihood depended on working together to survive. As a young child she earned money working in the cotton fields alongside her mother and siblings. During the off seasons, she cleaned homes and ironed for neighbors. As a high school student, she worked for the Neighborhood Youth Core.
The Judge’s father, Arnaldo Salinas and mother, Eva Salinas were very humble parents who preferred to eat beans than request assistance from anyone. They taught her the value of hard work, honesty, integrity, and a strong faith. Her grandmother, Senovia Sotello Flores, was widowed when her mother Eva, was only a young girl. Both her grandmother and mother worked hard cleaning homes to make their living until her mother Eva married the love of her life, Arnaldo.
Grandmother Senovia lived with the Salinas family and since Eva was grandmother’s favorite; she helped raise the Salinas children. Grandmother Senovia was a very strong influence, teaching the children the power of love, patience, and perseverance. Her grandmother’s favorite words of wisdom were, “Querer es poder” (translated into English, “Where there is a will, there is a way”). Her grandmother used to call her, “abogada sin titulo” (lawyer without a degree), and this might have had an influence in her getting a law degree since she wanted to make the unofficial title given by her grandmother “official”. She became an attorney.
The Judge married Rene Flores, her high school sweetheart, and they have two daughters, Ana Maria and Maria Elena; a son Rene Arnaldo; and two grandchildren Diego Andres and Dante Luis. Their daughters are both teachers at La Joya I.S.D., while their son is an attorney. Their son has an extraordinary strong bond with his Mother the Judge. (Please read related story.)
Texas Border Business asked the judge, “What is your greatest achievement?” Without hesitation, the Judge answered, “The greatest achievement in my life is being a mother!” She added, “I have been living my dream. My faith and perseverance have enabled me to serve my God, my family, and my community. I am a grateful devotee of The Virgin de San Juan de Los Lagos, who has answered many prayers for my family.”
Judge Flores has numerous outstanding achievements. She is proud to have graduated at the top of her class from La Joya High School, earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Pan American University, and a Doctor of Jurisprudence (law degree) from The University of Texas at Austin. She taught high school English at her Alma Mater, La Joya High School when she was only 19 years old after her bachelor’s degree in 2 ½ years, when most students take more than five years. She worked as a Probation Officer and Rehabilitation Counselor for over four years, before attending Law School in Austin, while caring for her two-year-old daughter, Ana Maria.
After graduating from The University of Texas Law School, she returned to Hidalgo County as the first graduate from La Joya High School to become an attorney, and the first female Assistant District Attorney in Hidalgo County.
As an Assistant District Attorney, she served as the Chief Juvenile Prosecutor for all courts, the Chief Felony Prosecutor in the 93rd and the 139th District Courts, trying every type of criminal case, including capital murder cases.
In 1980 she established the Law Office of Aida Salinas Flores. As a private practitioner, she tried every type of civil and criminal case; personal injury, divorce, child custody, and business disputes both in federal and state courts. Judge Flores is a trained mediator and former Municipal Court Judge and former Professor at Pan American University.
In her 33-year legal career, she has worked for the Courts as a Pre-Sentence Investigator, investigated criminal cases alongside police officers, presented cases for indictment before a Grand Jury as a Prosecutor, and tried cases before judges and juries as a private practitioner. She has now come full circle, presiding over cases as our Judge of the 398th District Court, a court of general jurisdiction, which handles the most serious of civil and criminal matters.
Judge Salinas Flores states that becoming a Judge, although not in her plans, was not easy. Because of her faith and family support, she was able to persevere thru losses in the political arena. She ran for judge twice and was defeated twice, but not by much. Throughout her life, she has held her “Ma Grande” close to her heart, hearing her constant words to her: “¡Querer es Poder! Y hace mas el que quiere que el que puede.” She ran a third time and won the election in 2000.
Judge Flores is the first elected judge of the 398th District Court. She is the Overseer of the highly successful Hidalgo County Indigent Defense Program, a state-funded program for the implementation of the Fair Defense Act enacted by the legislature in 2002. She was selected as a member of the State Bar of Texas standing committee on Jury Service in 2003 and again in 2006. She chairs the local Hidalgo County Jury Service Committee and urged the passing of Senate Bill 1704, which raised juror fees in Hidalgo County.
She was elected by her judicial colleagues as the first woman in Hidalgo County to serve as Local Presiding Judge for the Hidalgo County Board of Judges in January 1, 2008.
Judge Salinas Flores is committed to her profession and has served as Past President of the Women and the Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, Treasurer for the Hidalgo County Bar Association for three years, and holds memberships in the following professional organizations: The State Bar of Texas, College of the State Bar of Texas, Association of District Court Judges, Women and the Law Section of the State Bar; National Association of Woman Judges, American Judges Association, and Association of Family Law Judges.
She serves her community as a member of the Mission Chamber of Commerce, the Mission Noon Lions Club, the Hidalgo County Citizen’s League, Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas, Organization of Women Executives, MANA of Hidalgo County, the University of Texas-Pan American Alumni Organization, and the Texas-Ex Organization.
She is a frequent speaker at school and universities, encouraging students to continue their education. She has participated in the McAllen Mentoring Program, the John Ben Sheppard Leadership Seminars, Tech Prep Groundhog Shadowing Day, and the Mock Trial Competitions as Judge.
Education is a top priority in her life. She overcame poverty by educating herself. She is quick to point out: “If it had not been for my education, how do you explain a poor girl from Sullivan City sitting in judgment of some of the most important cases in this county?” Her accomplishments represent her commitment, dedication and determination to strive to better herself, her family and her community, believing always then as she does today, that God has had His hand on her destiny.
Most importantly, she is living proof that, “¡Querer es Poder! Y hace más el que quiere que el que puede.” (Where There Is a Will, There Is a Way!) TBB
Written by Gilberto de los Santos, Professor Emeritus, The University of Texas—Pan American and Edited by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez Publisher