Chief Justice Dori Contreras of the Texas 13th Court of Appeals has announced that she will not seek re-election to her term which expires at the end of 2024. The first female chief justice of the 13th Court of Appeals and only the second Latina Chief Justice statewide, she has been a member of the Texas judiciary for over two decades.
The first in her family to graduate from college, Chief Justice Contreras attended the University of Texas at Austin from which she received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting in December of 1980. She worked as an accountant before beginning law school at the University of Houston . She received her law degree in 1990 and was one of six students to receive a distinguished service award on graduation. She engaged in the civil practice of law and also owned a professional dispute resolution firm before her election to the court of appeals in 2002.
Contreras has served as Chair of the Council of Chief Justices, a body comprised of the fourteen Chief Justices of Texas’s appeals courts. In this role, she was a spokesperson for all fourteen courts and actively worked to secure more funding for the courts of appeals during legislative sessions.
She has made it clear that while she has decided not to seek re-election she is not “retiring.” She plans to establish a mediation practice and may serve as a visiting judge. Additionally, she hopes to teach at a university or law school and spend more time with her family, which includes a husband, three children and five grandchildren . “The sky will be the limit in this next chapter of my life,” she proclaimed.
Chief Justice Contreras expressed her gratitude to her supporters, saying, “It is with great pride and comfort that I will leave knowing I made a positive impact on the court and the community.” She believes her successor will inherit a court that stands out for its “efficient performance, sound jurisprudence, and a balanced budget,” thanks to her long-standing efforts.