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Judge Lena Levario was born in Pecos, Texas in 1961 and spent her childhood there. She received her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Texas Tech University (TTU) School of Law in 1986 and belonged to the United Mexican American Students (UMAS) while attending TTU. She began her legal career as a public defender in Dallas County and was the first Mexican-American woman to be appointed in Dallas County as a District Judge by Governor Ann Richards in 1993. Judge Levario went into private practice in 1994 and was elected to the bench of the 204th District Criminal Court in Dallas County in 2006. At the time of the interview, she was on the grievance committee for the State Bar of Texas, a member of the Hispanic Fifty, and an active member of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) at the national level.
Judge Lena Levario begins with her family's background in West Texas and her childhood years growing up in Pecos, Texas. She talks about the race discrimination she encountered in Pecos schools and remembers the influence of her father's interest in politics and his emphasis on academic achievement. She recalls the appointment process under Governor Ann Richards at the recommendation of African-American Judge John Crezot [sic, Creuzot] that vaulted her to the bench of the 204th District Court in Dallas County. She mentions her prior work as a public defender, discusses her affiliation with the Democratic Party, and states her opinion of the Dallas County court system which was dominated at that time by judges affiliated with the Republican Party. She states her opinions on immigration law and illegal aliens in Texas, and cites her own example of the positive effect of Affirmative Action on the hiring of minorities. She describes the prejudicial treatment of criminals based on their racial and economic backgrounds, particularly in drug-related cases, and talks about jury selection practices. She comments on accusations of racism made against Dallas Mayor Laura Miller and explains her upcoming duties as legal counsel to the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).
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