A former prosecutor with the Nueces County District Attorney's Office is seeking her first position as an elected official, while hoping to bring fairness and compassion to the office of 105th District Judge.
Angelica Hernandez earned a Bachelor's degree from the University of St. Mary's in Leavenworth, Kansas, and is a graduate of Washburn University, where she attended law school. She and her husband, Rodney, a Texas Department of Public Safety State Trooper, have three children together.
Hernandez spent nearly eight years at the beginning of her law career as a civil defense attorney, representing school districts, cities or any other public entity that had been served with a lawsuit, she said. She spent the past two years as a prosecutor and assistant district attorney with the DA's office, where she handled first- and second-degree felony prosecutions.
Due to a rule put in place by former District Attorney Carlos Valdez, Hernandez had to resign her position with the DA's office in order to challenge current 105th District Judge, J. Manuel Banales, a decision the challenger said she was comfortable with.
"I had to leave my job to run for office because of Carlos Valdez's policy, which I agreed with - I understood why he had it," she said.
Hernandez said she opted to run for the 105th District Judge seat after watching Banales overrule another judge's recommended punishment for former local attorney Mauricio Celis, who was convicted in February 2009 on 14 of 22 counts of falsely holding himself out as a lawyer.
Visiting Judge Mark Luitjen of San Antonio had sentenced Celis to a year in jail and ordered him to pay about $1.4 million in restitution at a hearing in March 2009. However, Banales reversed that decision in May 2009, sentencing Celis to 10 years probation and a $10,000 fine.
"He undid all of those conditions (Luitjen set) and let the defense attorneys reargue what Judge Luitjen had already ruled on, without the benefit of evidence," she said. "That was the moment I started asking questions about how long he'd been there and what else he was doing. For me, that was the trigger point…because of the unfairness of the situation."
Hernandez said if elected, she would work to cut back on the office's spending, which currently employs two full-time court reporters. That is an expense that could at least be halved, she added. She would also work to be more respectful to families currently required to wait, sometimes all day, she said, when Banales has a full docket by finding ways to speed up the process.
"I have the experience to do the job and I'll be responsible with the taxpayer's dollars, but even more than that, I'll serve with the heart of a public servant, which means I'll be respectful of other people and I'll be humble at the opportunity," she said. "I'll have compassion in the courtroom."