Thirteenth Court of Appeals
Justice Gina M. Benavides was first elected to the Thirteenth Court of Appeals in 2006 and took office in January of 2007. She was re-elected in 2012 and 2018. She is currently the Senior Justice on the Court. During her tenure as an appellate judge, Justice Benavides has authored more than 1500 opinions on issues involving civil and criminal matters.
Service & Leadership
In 2021 Judge Merril Hartman Award was bestowed on Justice Benavides in recognition of her exceptional work and dedication to the provision of legal services to the poor. In 2017, she was bestowed the Judge Paul W. Nye Professionalism Award, the highest award given by the Corpus Christi Bar Association. The National Hispanic Bar Association named her “Latina Judge of the Year" of 2007.
In October 2022, Justice Benavides was honored with two new positions. She was elected to be the Regional Director 11 of the National Association of Women Judges which covers Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. At the same time, she was welcome to Texas American Board of Trial Attorneys whose mission is the preservation of right of the trial by jury guaranteed by the 7th Amendment to U.S. Constitution; the independence of the judiciary; and civics education. As a matter of fact, on September 16th which is Constitution Day, Justice Benavides spoke to school kids about the 4th Amendment.
In May 2021 the Texas Latinx Judges website was launched to empower Latinx judges in the State of Texas and promotes diversity, inclusion, integrity, and excellence in the judiciary.
Justice Benavides is one of its founding members.
She also recently published two articles in the Supreme Court Historical Society Journal, Spring 2021, recognized Latinx community and specifically profiling Justice Eve Guzman and Judge Elsa Alcala, two first Latinas on the Texas highest courts. She had previously
published an article in the St. Mary’s Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics entitled “The Texas Standards for Appellate Conduct: An Annotated Guide and Commentary” with her former staff attorney, Joshua Caldwell
At the 2019 Annual Judicial Conference, Justice Benavides was elected by her peers as the Chair of the Judicial Section. She will serve the judiciary for the next year to improve the quality of justice in Texas, examines issues affecting the Judicial system, fosters public education about the Judicial system and matters of concern to the Judiciary, promotes dialogue and collaboration among Judges, and provides a forum to discuss matters of concern to Judges. She has been on the board of directors for the last couple of years, serving on the by-laws committee.
In 2008, Justice Benavides was appointed to serve on the Texas Center for the Judiciary Board of Directors. 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.
At the 2007 National Hispanic Bar Association annual meeting in Puerto Rico in 2007. After her first year on the Court, Justice Benavides was bestowed the honor of "Latina Judge of the Year".
In April of 2020, the Justice was admitted to the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society’s Board of Trustees.
Justice Benavides is also the Board of the Appellate Section of the State Bar of Texas chairs the Appellate Diversity Committee. To ensure diversity in the council and or section; she has implemented CLE programs in El Paso, Laredo and McAllen and in the world of Covid, began several Zoom CLE.
In 2017, Justice Benavides was appointed as a board member of the Texas Legal Services Center, a non-profit that provides free attorney representation, legal advice, and information to low-income Texans.
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 2018, she was elected Chair of the Section and continues to serve on the section which studies and reports on laws, judicial decisions and governmental regulations as they may affect the particular needs of the Hispanic community of Texas, to provide a common meeting ground and forum for members of the profession for consideration of special issues with respect to the recognition and enjoyment of constitutional rights of the Hispanic Community, both individually and collectively, and to take such action with respect thereto, all subject to our Bylaws and the laws, rules and regulations 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 to the Corpus Christi Bar Association’s Board of Directors and served until 2018 as the chair of the Continuing Legal Education Committee and a member of the Grant Writing Committee and Speakers Committee. Additionally, Justice Benavides helped established the Corpus Christi Bar Association’s Appellate Section.
In 2017, State Bar of Texas President Tom Vick appointed Justice Benavides as a member of the Texas Pattern Jury Charges—Business, Consumer, Insurance, and Employment Committee where she continues to serve and be published in the Texas Pattern Jury Charge. In 2022, she was moved to vice-chair of the committee.
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, Texas Women Lawyers and National Association of Women Judges. She is currently co-chair of the Education Committee of the NAWJ Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas in October 2018.
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.
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:
- "Gustavo ‘Gus’ Garcia, a Life of Service, and Hernandez v. State of Texas: The Lawyer Who Desegregated Texas Juries," Supreme Court Historical Society, El Paso Texas, March 2nd – 4th, 2023
- The Judiciary in Texas Department of Children, Corpus Christi, Tx, September 2022
- 4th Amendment, Constitution Day, Zoom in Frisco ISD, September 2022
- Legislative update with Jerry Bullard, Hispanic Issues Section, State Bar of Texas, Houston, Texas, June 2022
- Importance of Judiciary with Judge David Garcia and Judge Rosie Gonzalez Speedlin, LULAC Annual Meeting, South Padre Island, May 21, 2020
- Judicial Panel with Judge David Sanchez and Judge Joanne Garcia, State Bar of Texas Soak up CLE, South Padre Island, May 12, 2022
- Appellate Rules to Court Reporters, presented with Kathy Mills, clerk of the court, Court Reporter’s Annual Conference, McAllen, Texas, February 19, 2022
- Diversity and Inclusivity with State Bar President Sylvia Firth and Rudy Metayer, Texas Association of Defense Counsel, Asheville, North Carolina, May 5, 2022
- Planning Committee for SBOT 2022 Advance Civil Law CLE, Advance Personal Injury, Advance Appellate Law and Soak up CLE.
- The Rise in Civil Mandamus Filings, Advance Civil Appellate Practice, State Bar of Texas, Austin, Texas September 2021 rescheduled to December 2021
- Thriving in Law School & Our Journey to the Bench, Texas Latinx Judges and University of Texas Chicano Hispanic Law Student Association, November 4, 2021
- "Can We Really Do That? The Ethics of Judicial Involvement in Pro Bono, State Bar of Texas Pro Bono Workgroup, Webinar, October 27, 2021
- Mandamus, Advance Civil Law, State Bar of Texas, Houston, Texas, October 27, 2021
- Ethical Dos and Don’ts: The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct, Social Media and More, Texas Latinx Judges, Webinar, October 21, 2021.
- Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Inspirations and Lessons from Successful Woman in a Male Dominated World, American Business Women's Foundation, Webinar, October 2, 2021
- Mandamus, Advance Civil Law, State Bar of Texas, San Antonio, Texas, July 2021
- Advance Civil Appellate Practice, State Bar of Texas, Planning Committee, 2021
- State Bar Appellate Section State Bar of Texas and Hidalgo County Bar Association, Appeals and 13th Court of Appeals, Edinburg, Texas, October 2020
- Texas Appellate Law Podcast, September 2020
- Advance Civil Law, State Bar of Texas, Planning Committee, 2020
- Advance Appellate Law, University of Texas Law School Judiciary Panel on Reply Briefs, Austin, Texas, June 2020
- Appellate Section of State Bar of Texas and Hidalgo County Bar Association, CLE Presentation, Edinburg, Texas, March 2020
- State Bar of Texas CLE, Legal Writing Panel on “Before You Can Win, You have to Avoid Losing: A Judicial Panel on Making Legal Writing Work for You Rather Than Against You” Austin, Texas, April 2020
- Appellate Section of State Bar of Texas, Law School Committee, Panel Discussion, Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Houston, February 2020
- Texas Supreme Court Update, Advance Personal Injury. Corpus Christi Bar Association, Corpus Christi, October 2019
- View from the Bench, Consumer and Commercial Law Course, State Bar of Texas, Austin, Texas, September 2019
- Threats on the Horizon, Diversity Forum, State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting, Austin, Texas, June 2019
- Appellate Section CLE, (Co-Director and Presenter) Laredo, Texas, April 2019
- Luncheon Speaker at Dallas Minority Attorney Program, Do’s and Don’ts of Appellate Law, April 2019
- Ethical Considerations of the Law, Hispanic Issues CLE, Lubbock, Texas, April 2019
- Conversation with Texas Tech Law Students Practicing Law, Lubbock, Texas, April 2019
- Women Judiciary Panel Discussion, Texas Women Lawyers, Corpus Christi, Texas, March 2019
- Co-Chair of Education of Education Program of the National Association of Women Judges, Annual Meeting, October 2018
- Parental Termination Cases at an Appellate Level, CASA Victoria, Keynote Luncheon Speaker, September 2018
- Appellate Overview: Child Protection Law Seminar, State Bar of Texas, Austin, Texas April 2018
- Keynote Speaker, Hispanic Law Student Association, Texas Tech Law School, Lubbock, Texas April 2018
- Appellate Justice Panel, Damages in Civil Litigation, State Bar of Texas, Houston, Texas, February 2018
- Insurance Law Update, Life after Harvey, Corpus Christi Bar Association, Corpus Christi, Texas. December 2017
- Judicial Panel, State Bar of Texas: Texas Minority Counsel Program, Austin, Texas, November 2017
- Ethical Editing Judicial Panel; Appellate Justice Education Institute, Long Beach, California November 2017
- View from the Bench, Hidalgo County Bar Association, Edinburg, Texas, November 2017
- Judging, Career Day Speaker at Freddy Gonzalez Elementary, October 2017
- Intersectionality: The New Legal Imperative, Diversity Forum Panel, State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting, Dallas, June 2017.
- Court of Appeals Panel, State Bar of Texas Outreach Seminar to Coastal Bend Government Attorneys, Corpus Christi, June 2017.
- Careers in the Legal Field Panel, Title V Career Readiness Institute at Del Mar College, Corpus Christi, April 2017.
- Diversity in the Legal Practice Panel, 2017 Texas Hispanic Law Journal & Policy Symposium, Austin, April 2017.
- Criminal and Civil Case Update, Mexican-American Bar Association-Texas & Hispanic Issues Section Legislative Day CLE, Austin, April 2017.
- Keynote Speaker, San Benito Consolidated Independent School District’s Parent Conference, San Benito, April 2017.
- Keynote Speaker, Region One ESC Gear Up I AM 2017 Conference, South Padre Island, February 2017.
- Advanced Family Law Seminar (co-course director and speaker), Corpus Christi Bar Association, Corpus Christi, February 2017.
- Damages in Civil Litigation Course, Houston, February 2017.
- Keynote Speaker, South Park Middle School 60th Anniversary, Corpus Christi, January 2017.
- 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.
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.
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 but continues to maintain a home in McAllen. She is the proud mother of three: Alyssa, Daniella, and Ricardo; and the grandmother of Willow, Trey, Celia and Auggie.