Thirteenth Court of Appeals

Justice Gina M. Benavides 
Photo of Justice Gina M. Benavides

Place 5

Justice Gina M. Benavides was first elected to the Thirteenth Court of Appeals in 2006 and re-elected to a second six-year term in 2012. During her tenure as an appellate judge, Justice Benavides has authored more than 900 opinions on issues involving civil and criminal matters.

Service & Leadership

As a member of the Court, Justice Benavides has been actively involved in implementing internal procedures and policies to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Court. She also continues her involvement in national, state, and local associations for the betterment of the judiciary and the law.

After her first year on the Court, Justice Benavides was bestowed the honor of "Latina Judge of the Year" by the National Hispanic Bar Association at their annual meeting in Puerto Rico in 2007.

In 2008, Justice Benavides was appointed to serve on the Texas Center for the Judiciary Board of Directors (the "Texas Center"). The Texas Center was established in 1973 to provide continuing judicial education programs for the state's judiciary and support personnel. The Texas Center pursues its mission of judicial excellence by providing leadership education and training so that a qualified and knowledgeable judiciary may administer justice with fairness, efficiency, and integrity. In 2010, she was elected Chair-Elect of the Texas Center by her fellow judges and became chair at the annual meeting in September 2011. The last time a judge from Region 5, which encompasses South Texas, held this position was in 1992. Justice Benavides is the first Hispanic Female to hold this position. In 2013, Justice Benavides received the Chair’s Award of Excellence by the Texas Center for the Judiciary. Additionally, Justice Benavides serves on the Board of Directors for the Judicial Section of the State Bar of Texas and chairs the Awards Committee.  

In 2010, the Texas Supreme Court appointed Justice Benavides to the Texas Access for Justice Commission and re-appointed her in 2012. The Texas Access to Justice Commission was created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 2001 to develop and implement initiatives to expand access to and enhance the quality of justice in civil matters for low-income citizens. Although Justice Benavides’s term has ended on the Texas Access for Justice Commission, she continues to serve as a member of the Commission’s Legislative Committee.

In February 2012, then-State Bar of Texas President Bob Black appointed Justice Benavides to the Solutions 2012 task force to deal with decreasing funding for legal access, increasing pro se litigants, and the effect it has on our legal system.

Justice Benavides also serves in an active role in the Hispanic Issues Section of the State Bar of Texas. In 2014, the Hispanic Issues Section named her “Judge of the Year” at the Section’s annual meeting. In 2016, Justice Benavides was elected vice chair of the Hispanic Issues Section. She also serves on the Section’s Newsletter Committee.

In 2016, Justice Benavides was elected to the Corpus Christi Bar Association’s Board of Directors. Justice Benavides chairs the Corpus Christi Bar Association’s Continuing Legal Education Committee and is a member of the Grant Writing Committee and Speakers Committee. Additionally, Justice Benavides is leading efforts to form the Corpus Christi Bar Association’s Appellate Section.

While in private practice, Justice Benavides served as President of the Cameron County Bar Association, President of the Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas, and as a vice president of the Texas Association of Defense Counsel. She also served on numerous committees for the State Bar, including Continuing Legal Education and Law Focused Education. Justice Benavides continues her active involvement in the Hidalgo County Bar Association and Cameron County Bar Association. Justice Benavides is currently a Fellow with the Texas Bar Foundation, and is also a member of the National Hispanic Bar Association and Texas Women Lawyers.

Justice Benavides is also a charter member of the St. Thomas Moore Society of Hidalgo County, which was founded in 2013 by a group of Catholic lawyers and judges who are committed to the Catholic faith and the law. Justice Benavides has continually been invited to serve as the keynote speaker for annual Red Masses throughout the State of Texas, including in the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, and most recently, Lubbock. The Red Mass is a mass celebrated annually for judges, attorneys, law school professors, students, government officials, and all those who seek justice. She has also spoken at several candlelight vigils against domestic violence and abuse.

Finally, Justice Benavides is committed to youth and youth education. She frequently volunteers to judge the annual "We the People" Constitution Competition, Region One Mock Trial competitions, and the Texas Young Lawyer's Association Moot Court Competition at the State Bar Annual Meeting every year. She is also a frequent speaker to classrooms throughout South Texas.

Speaking Engagements

Justice Benavides is a frequent speaker and presenter of papers throughout the State of Texas. The following shows some of her speaking engagements on a broad range of topics:

  • Damages in Civil Litigation Course, Houston, February 2017 (upcoming).
  • Law Day Corpus Christi Bar Association, Corpus Christi, May 2016.
  • Rio Grande Valley Partnership Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class, McAllen, April 2016.
  • Representing Children and Parents in Child Protective Services’ Cases, Corpus Christi Bar Association CLE, Corpus Christi, April 2016.
  • Emerging Leaders Program of the Diocese of Austin, Austin, March 2016.
  • 2015 Red Mass, Lubbock, October 2015.
  • State Bar of Texas Advanced Criminal Law Course, Houston, July 2015.
  • ABOTA Teacher’s Law School, Corpus Christi, June 2015.
  • Emerging Leaders Program of the Diocese of Austin, Austin, May 2015.
  • Damages in Civil Litigation Course, Houston, February 2015.
  • 62nd Annual Red Mass, San Antonio, October 2014.
  • Advanced Civil Appellate Law Seminar, State Bar of Texas, Panelist, Austin, Texas, September 2014.
  • San Antonio Trial Lawyers Association Annual CLE, San Antonio, “New Rules for Expedited Jury Trials,” September 2014.
  • State Bar of Texas Advanced Criminal Law Course, Houston, July 2014.
  • State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting—Hispanic Issues Section, “New Discovery Rules,” Austin, June 2014.
  • Cameron County Bar Association Criminal Law CLE, South Padre Island, Texas May 2014.
  • San Antonio Young Lawyers Association (SAYLA) Monthly Luncheon, “TRCP 169: New Rules for Expedited Trials,” March 2014.
  • Advanced Civil Appellate Law Seminar, State Bar of Texas, Panelist, Austin, Texas, September 2012.
  • Mexican Bar Association of Houston, Supreme Court Implementations of Family Law forms, Houston, Texas, June 2012.
  • Texas Association of Defense Counsel, "Stop, in the Name of Appeal", Interlocutory Appeals, Santa Fe, New Mexico, April 2012.
  • Hidalgo County Women's Bar Association, "Road to the Bench", McAllen, Texas, March 2012.
  • Litigation Update Institute, State Bar of Texas, New Recusal Rules and Appellate TRAPS for Trial Attorneys, Dallas, January 2012.
  • College of New Judges, Texas Center for the Judiciary, Austin, December 2011.
  • Advanced Civil Appellate Seminar, State Bar of Texas, Judicial Panel, Austin, September 2011.
  • Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas Annual Meeting, South Padre Island, "A View from the Bench," August 2011.
  • Coastal Bend Women Lawyers' Luncheon Seminar, Corpus Christi, "Appellate Do's and Don'ts," May 2011.
  • Third Annual Criminal Law Seminar, Cameron County Bar Association, South Padre Island, "Lessons Learned from Recent Decisions: A Criminal Law Update," April 2011.
  • 2011 Advanced Civil Trial Lawyer Seminar, Corpus Christi Bar Association, Corpus Christi, "Attorney's Fees-A New Standard," April 2011.
  • Cameron County Bar Association Luncheon, Brownsville, "Attorney's Fees-A New Standard," February 2011.
  • 2010 Annual Judicial Conference, Texas Center for the Judiciary, Dallas, "Criminal Law Update," September 2010.
  • 2010 Criminal Law Conference, Hidalgo County Bar Association, "Criminal Law Update," March 2010.
  • Prosecuting or Defending a Trucking or Auto Accident Case, State Bar of Texas, San Antonio, "Evidence Panel," 2010.
  • Texas Women Lawyers, Houston, "Artful Intelligence," February 2010.
  • San Antonio Appellate Bar Monthly Luncheon, San Antonio, "Mandamus," 2009.
  • Litigation Seminar, State Bar of Texas, Judiciary Panel, San Antonio, January 2009.
  • 2009 Annual Judicial Conference, Texas Center for the Judiciary, Grapevine, "Mandamus," September 2009.
  • Scholarship Luncheon, Mexican-American Bar Association of Houston, Keynote Speaker, Houston, August 2007.
  • Hidalgo County Bar Association Women's Bar Section Luncheon, "Women in the Law," McAllen, July 2007.
  • Fifth Region Conference, South Padre Island, Criminal and Civil Update.
  • Hidalgo County Bar Association Appellate Section, McAllen.
  • Appellate Section, Corpus Christi Bar Association, Corpus Christi.
  • Soaking up the CLE, State Bar of Texas, South Padre Island, Program Director, 2007 and 2008.

Professional Experience

Prior to joining the Court, Justice Benavides was a litigator with more than 17 years of courtroom experience. Immediately after law school, Justice Benavides began her legal career at the Adams & Graham Law Firm in Harlingen, Texas in 1988. At this primarily insurance defense firm, she tried more than 30 cases throughout the state of Texas in the areas of toxic tort, products liability, commercial litigation, and personal injury.

After 12 years, she joined the law firm of Gonzalez & Associates, P.C. in McAllen, Texas where she continued to litigate, but as a plaintiffs' lawyer representing individuals and families. Justice Benavides also began an appellate practice at this time.

As a private attorney, Justice Benavides was recognized in Texas Monthly as a Super Lawyer in 2003 and 2004 by her peers as one of the best lawyers in the state of Texas.

Personal

Justice Benavides is originally from Corpus Christi and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1985 from the University of Texas at Austin. She then graduated from law school at the University of Houston Law Center in 1988 and was admitted into the State Bar the same year.

Justice Benavides currently resides in Corpus Christi with her husband Sammy Calderon and mother, Bertha Martinez, but continues to maintain a home in McAllen. She is the proud mother of three: Daniella, Ricardo, and Alyssa; and the grandmother of Willow.