Written By: Dr. Gilberto de los Santos
Professor Emeritus The University of Texas—Pan American
Edited By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez, Publisher-Texas Border Business
As originally published by Texas Border Business newsprint Edition
Ricardo H. Hinojosa is making significant history this month, he just got appointed November 13, 2009 to Chief Judge for The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. He was appointed federal judge by President Ronald Reagan April 12, 1983. Judge Hinojosa is the first Hispanic, and the first person from the Rio Grande Valley, to ever be appointed to this position! Texas has only four federal judicial districts. Since the Southern District covers from Houston to Laredo (and in between), the Headquarters is in Houston. Because federal judges are appointed for life, The Southern District since its creation in 1902 by an Act of Congress has had only 41 judges. Today, The Southern District has 19 judgeships, six bankruptcy judgeships, fourteen magistrate judges, and over 200 deputy clerks. (At the time this article was written)
Born and raised in Rio Grande City to Mr. and Mrs. Miguel and Josefina Hinojosa, Judge Hinojosa attended Immaculate Conception School through junior high school, graduated Valedictorian from Rio Grande City High School, earned his bachelor’s degree with honors from The University of Texas in 1972, and went immediately to Harvard Law School earning his J.D. in 1975. Upon graduation, he served for a year as a law clerk for the Texas Supreme Court, and entered private practice with Ewers & Toothaker Law Firm in McAllen. Since 2003 he has also held the positions of Commissioner, Acting Chair, and Chair for the United States Sentencing Commission. Judge Hinojosa taught for the University Of Texas Law School as an Adjunct Professor during 2001-2003.
Judge Hinojosa gives credit to his parents for encouraging him to focus on education, and inculcating in him strong principles of hard work, fairness, integrity and public service. He also received excellent spiritual, moral, and educational guidance from the nuns who ran the parochial school in Rio Grande City—in fact he grew up across the street from the Catholic School. The Rio Grande City public schools also prepared him well for rigorous studies at The University of Texas. Although Harvard “polished” his education, he was well-prepared by these Rio Grande City schools and The University of Texas.
His community (including parents, extended family, friends, neighbors, and schools) helped Judge Hinojosa to form his current focus on service, justice, and impartiality. He emphasizes that he has over 300-million bosses, since he is bound by his oath to work for the people of the United States of America by applying the law fairly, and by upholding The Constitution of the United States. He strives to do the difficult job of providing a balance of fairness and equal treatment to all who are tried in his court. He helps in other ways by serving his community, giving back what he has so abundantly received.
Judge Hinojosa has high respect for all Rio Grande Valley residents, and is optimistic about the future of this region. As a region, he knows that we have a strong sense of community that we care about each other, about our country, and about our future, and said that we have proven our support for our military troops, who have fought for freedom all over the world. He visions strong, continued growth for our Texas region. He said, “Unity is our Key to progress as a region!” By acting together for a common purpose we can achieve greater heights of prosperity. He also said, “Our higher educational institutions will continue to play a huge role in our continued progress.”
Since he strongly believes in giving back to his community, he has served with distinction, both his profession and his community. He served on the Board of Regents for the Pan American University, Chairman of the University of Texas Ex-Students’ Association, Member of the President’s Commission on White House Fellows, Member of the Harvard Law School Association Council, and Chairman of the Texas Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution.
He earned the following awards and honors: “Distinguished Alumni Award” by the University of Texas Ex-Students Association; “Notable Valley Hispanic” by The University of Texas—Pan American Library; “Top Hand Award” by The University of Texas Ex-Students Association; “America’s Top 40 Public Servants by Management magazine; “One of the 100 most Influential Hispanics” by Hispanic Business magazine—plus many others.
Among the areas he has served his profession are: Judicial Liaison Member, Texas State Bar Board of Directors; Member, Federal Judicial Center’s Advisory Committee on the Benchbook for United States District Judges; American Law Institute Member, Advisory Group to the Model Penal Code, Sentencing Project—and many others.
Undoubtedly, Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa has served his community, state, and country with distinction. By his own words and through many comments I have heard from friends who have been in his court, I get the strong impression that, “He is serving with humility, fairness, and impartiality—and with justice for all.” Most importantly, he is a man who truly cares about his family, his staff, his friends, his community, state, and country—and who earnestly strives to impart justice in his court! Exclusive to Texas Border Business (TBB)