Hon. Liza Rodriguez - 2012 Distinguished Alumnus & October 2012 Alumnus
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
Current Job/City: Judge, Bexar County Courthouse – County Court #8, San Antonio, TX
CHCI Program(s)/Year(s): Fellowship 1993-94
CHCI Placement(s): MALDEF
1. What have you been doing since you finished the CHCI program(s)?
Since completion of the program, I obtained my Juris Doctor from St. Mary’s School of Law, and have become licensed to practice law in both State and Federal Court. I practiced as an Assistant Criminal District Attorney for ten years during which time I prosecuted everything from misdemeanor Driving While Intoxicated cases to felonies such as Murder. During my final year, I served in the Family Justice Division and prosecuted crimes against children. Following my time at the District Attorney’s office, I served as the County Court Administrator for almost two years, and then went into private practice with an emphasis on Criminal Defense for a year before being elected as Judge of County Court #8, in which I unseated a 15 year incumbent. However, my proudest accomplishment in life has been becoming a mother to two wonderful children, Alina 10 and Aiden 7.
2. What impact did your CHCI experience have on your career and development as a leader?
My experience with CHCI was definitely life-changing. Having the opportunity to live and work in our nation’s capital and network with other young Latino leaders exposed me to potentials I never imagined. Working with the MALDEF organization (which was my fellowship assignment), was actually the impetus for my seeking a legal career.
3. How have you stayed engaged in community service?
My community service (as defined in the traditional sense) is mainly comprised of my involvement with my children’s school, as well as extracurricular organizations. I am a volunteer room parent and soccer coach (although I’ve never played soccer a day in my life). Being a single parent with a full time job limits the amount of time I have for the many endeavors I seek to accomplish. However, I would submit that my last few jobs as a public servant kept me focused on the best interests and safety of the community. However, my current full time job is one in which I am able to provide service to my community on a daily basis. By taking the time to know the defendants that appear in my courtroom every day and finding ways to ensure that they succeed while on community supervision, I firmly believe that I am providing a significant service to the community. Many times as part of their community supervision, I require offenders to complete educational components, such as securing a High School diploma, as well as attend job counseling, and if applicable, complete courses in alcohol and substance abuse prevention. I am also hoping to start the first DWI Court in Bexar County which will focus on helping offenders address their substance abuse issues and to receive the treatment they need.
4. What advice would you give current and future CHCI participants?
Take advantage of the opportunity to network and gain knowledge of our world and country. Realize that there are other young, talented, and motivated individuals with similar backgrounds who have been able to succeed and flourish in their careers. Learn as much as you can from these remarkable individuals and know that you are capable of accomplishing similar successes as well. Enjoy your time in D.C., it goes by very quickly!
5. Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
I am completely open to any and all opportunities to learn and grow as an attorney and/or Judge and I will continue search for ways and positions in which to best serve my community, whether as a public servant or as a private citizen. I would love to continue my career as a member of the Judiciary; however, being that I hold an elected position, I serve at the will of the voters. So although nothing is guaranteed, the possibilities are endless.