Marilyn Tennissen Sep. 23, 2014, 11:50am

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The White House announced last week that President Barack Obama has nominated three judges to fill vacancies in Texas federal courts.

Judge Alfred H. Bennett, Judge George C. Hanks Jr. and Judge Jose Rolando Olvera Jr. have been named to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

“I am pleased that the President has nominated three exceptional candidates for these important positions,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) “Their depth of experience and unqualified dedication to public service has uniquely prepared each of them to handle these new roles, and I hope the Senate will confirm their nominations.”

The Texas nominees were among seven federal judicial nominees announced Sept. 19. Two of the Texas nominees are African American and one is Hispanic. The other four nominees for the vacancies in other states are women.

The Southern District of Texas extends from the Galveston area down the coast to Brownsville. It consists of 42 counties divided into seven area divisions: Brownsville, Houston, Victoria, Corpus Christi, Laredo, Galveston and McAllen.

“I am honored to put forward these highly qualified candidates for the federal bench,”President Obama said.  “They will be distinguished public servants and valuable additions to the United States District Court.”

”Our judicial system depends on well-qualified judges to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). “I, along with my fellow Texas Senator John Cornyn, have recommended three judges to President Obama who have been nominated to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Each of these candidates was recommended by Cornyn and Cruz after being screened by their bipartisan Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee, a panel of Texas attorneys who help identify the most qualified candidates.

“Our Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee seeks judges of the highest caliber, and we will continue to work with the White House to recommend candidates who have expressed a commitment to the law of the land,” Cruz said.

Other nominees announced include Judge Joan Marie Azzack for the Eastern District of New York, Judge Loretta Copeland Biggs for the Middle District of North Carolina, Elizabeth K. Dillon for the Western District of Virginia and Judge Jill N. Parrish for the District of Utah.

Judge Alfred H. Bennett 

Judge Alfred H. Bennett is the Presiding Judge for the 61st Civil District Court of Texas, a position he has held since 2009.

From 2010 to 2011, he served as the Administrative Judge for the Harris County Civil District Courts. From 1998 to 2008, Judge Bennett was a solo practitioner, representing individuals and companies in litigation before both state and federal courts.

From 1994 to 1998, he worked at Solar & Fernandes LLP and from 1991 to 1994, he worked at Fulbright & Jaworski LLP.

Judge Bennett received his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1991 and his B.S. from the University of Houston in 1988.

Judge George C. Hanks Jr. 

Judge George C. Hanks Jr., has served as a United States Magistrate Judge in the Southern District of Texas since 2010.

From 2003 to 2010, he served as a Justice on the First Court of Appeals of Texas and from 2001 to 2002, he served as a District Judge for the 157th Civil District Court of Texas.

Prior to joining the bench, Judge Hanks was a shareholder at Wickliff & Hall PC from 1996 to 2000, and an associate at Fulbright & Jaworski LLP from 1991 to 1996.

He began his legal career by serving as a law clerk for Judge Sim Lake of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas from 1989 to 1991.

Judge Hanks received his LL.M. from Duke University Law School in 2014, his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1989, and his B.A. summa cum laude from Louisiana State University in 1986.

Judge Jose Rolando Olvera Jr. 

Judge Jose Rolando Olvera Jr., has been the Presiding Judge of the Fifth Administrative Judicial Region of Texas since 2011 and the District Judge for the 445th District Court of Texas since 2009.

From 2005 to 2006, he served as the District Judge for the 138th District Court of Texas, and from 2001 to 2002, he served as the District Judge for the 357th District Court of Texas. Judge Olvera also worked as a solo practitioner and served as a part-time Brownsville Municipal Court Judge from 2007 to 2008.

From 2003 to 2004, he worked first as a solo practitioner and then with the law firm of Spain & Olvera. Judge Olvera worked in private practice at Fleming & Olvera, PC, and its predecessor firms from 1994 to 2000 and at Atlas & Hall LLP from 1990 to 1993.

He received his J.D. in 1989 from the University of Texas School of Law and his B.A. in 1985 from Harvard University.

The members of the bipartisan Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee are: 

Chairman – David Prichard (San Antonio, partner, Prichard Hawkins McFarland & Young)
Vice Chair – Hon. Raul Gonzalez (Austin, solo practitioner)
Vice Chair – James Ho (Dallas, partner, Gibson Dunn)

David Beck (Houston, partner, Beck Redden LLP)
John Beckworth (Houston, partner, Watt Beckworth)
Maria Wyckoff Boyce (Houston, partner, Baker Botts)
Zach Brady (Lubbock, partner, Brady & Hamilton LLP)
George Bramblett (Dallas, partner, Haynes & Boone)
David Cabrales (Dallas, partner, Locke Lord)
James Cousar (Austin, partner, Thompson & Knight)
Erin Nealy Cox (Dallas, executive managing director, Stroz Friedberg)
Steve Cox (Houston, corporate counsel, Apache Corporation)
Janet Dhillon (Plano, general counsel, JC Penney)
Brady Edwards (Houston, partner, Morgan Lewis)
Charles Eskridge (Houston, partner, Susman Godfrey LLP)
Hon. Jaime Esparza (El Paso, District Attorney, 34th Judicial District)
Larry Finder (Houston, partner, Baker & McKenzie)
Allyson Ho (Dallas, partner, Morgan Lewis)
Gaylord Hughey (Tyler, solo practitioner)
Bill Jones (Austin, owner, The Jones Firm)
Dee Kelly Jr. (Ft. Worth, managing partner, Kelly Hart)
Bradley Knippa (Austin, partner, Jackson Walker LLP)
W. Gregory Looser (Houston, senior vice president, Pride International Inc.)
George McWilliams (Texarkana, solo practitioner)
Connie Pfeiffer (Houston, partner, Beck Redden LLP)
Hon. Tom Phillips (Austin, partner, Baker Botts)
Adam Ross (Dallas, founder & CEO, Goldcrest Investments)
Kelly Shackelford (Plano, president & CEO, Liberty Institute)
Kent Sullivan (Austin, partner, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP)
Steve Susman (Houston, partner, Susman Godfrey LLP)
Andy Taylor (Houston, founder, Andy Taylor & Associates, P.C.)
Michael Truncale (Beaumont, partner, Orgain Bell & Tucker, LLP)
Hon. Lori Valenzuela (San Antonio, judge, 437th District Court)
Manny Vela (Harlingen, president & CEO, Valley Baptist Health System)
Margaret Wilson (Austin, general counsel, Texas Department of Motor Vehicles)




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