Name: Justice Felipe Reyna
Current position: Justice, Place 3 on the 10th Court of Appeals
City of Residence: Lorena, Texas
Education: Valedictorian Moody High School 1964; B.S. degree in political science at Baylor 1968; Baylor Law School 1972;
Professional credentials relative to office: Appointed McLennan County District Attorney by Gov. Dolph Briscoe in 1977; Appointed by Gov. George Bush to the State Board of Dental Examiners in 1995; Appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to the 10th Court of Appeals in 2003; Member of the State Bar College;
Prior experience relative to office: 2-1/2 years adult probation officer; 4 years assistant prosecutor and 6 years as McLennan County District Attorney; then in private practice for 20 years with wife, handling both civil and criminal cases, training the associate attorneys and serving as managing partner; Accepted Gov. Perry’s appointment to the 10th Court of Appeals in Dec. 2003;
Family: Wife, Cheryl, is an assistant attorney general in the child support division. Four sons - Daniel is a CPA in Waco; Abel is an attorney in Waco; Darin is a marketing director at a school textbook company, and Steven is a lieutenant at the College Station Police Department. Blessed by the constant joy of five delightful grandsons.
Hobbies: Working outside at our ranchito; Contemplating life while driving my John Deere tractor; carpenter projects big and small.
Campaign Web site:
QUESTION 1: In your own words, why are you running for 10th Court of Appeals, Place 3, Justice?
ANSWER: In 2003 Gov. Perry asked me to return to public service. After 30 years in the legal profession, as a prosecutor and then private practitioner, I agreed that it was time to share that experience and to use that wisdom for the benefit of my community.
I have been very blessed in my legal career, and believe I have a responsibility to give back through public service.
QUESTION 2: What is your experience in the legal research of criminal and civil cases and in what proportion?
ANSWER: For 10 years I handled criminal cases from the prosecutor’s perspective, researching cases from the State’s point of view.
For the next 20 years my research broadened to both the plaintiff’s and defendant’s positions in civil cases, as well as criminal defense work. The proportion of my civil to criminal experience is probably 40 percent civil and 60 percent criminal, which closely matches the ratio of civil and criminal cases actually heard by the 10th Court.
QUESTION 3: What is your trial experience as a judge or attorney?
ANSWER: My gray hair evidences my many years of trial experience as an attorney, either trying cases personally or with other attorneys that were developing their trial skills.
Appellate judges don’t get to conduct actual trials. It is their job to review the records of the trial court and to determine if errors were made. I have six years of experience of reviewing cases from this perspective.
QUESTION 4: What changes, if any, do you think should be made (in the administration of cases) in the 10th Court of Appeals?
ANSWER: The backlog of cases was a serious concern when I took office in 2003. I helped institute administrative internal circulation deadlines, which have helped reduce our pending caseload by 27 percent.
These guidelines need to stay in effect, so that draft opinions from one chamber are timely addressed by the other two chambers of the Court.
QUESTION 5: How do you reconcile judicial independence and working with the other two judges comprising the 10th Court of Appeals?
ANSWER: The principle of judicial independence remains protected within the three justice panel.
Majority opinions require either unanimous consent or at least the approval of two justices. In the event the third justice strongly opposes the majority opinion, he may issue a dissenting opinion.
QUESTION 6: Currently, the appeal of cases from Ellis County are often assigned to appellate courts throughout the state and not just to the 10th Court of Appeals. Due to the fact that different appellate courts frequently resolve cases differently, what solution would you suggest in order that trial judges, attorneys and litigants would know which appellate court’s precedent to follow?
ANSWER: All cases appealed from Ellis County must be filed in the 10th Court. Every six months the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has the authority to equalize appellate dockets by transferring cases to other appellate courts. When this occurs, the necessary safeguards are already in place. The court which ultimately reviews the case is required to apply the case precedent established by the 10th Court.
QUESTION 7: What do you believe makes you the best qualified for the position?
ANSWER: I have been blessed with a good legal mind and the courage to stand by my convictions. I have been and will continue to be an independent justice who decides each case by applying the current law to the facts of the case. I do not decide cases to satisfy political agendas or the demands of special interest groups. I have already proven my dedication to judicial conservatism.