Thirteenth Court of Appeals
Justice Lionel Aron Peña Jr. was elected to the 13th Court of Appeals, Place 3 on November 8, 2022.
The eldest of six siblings, he is the son of Lionel Aron Peña, Sr. and Sylvia Alamia Peña. After attending primary schools in his home community of Edinburg, he graduated from Edinburg High School in 1977. Peña graduated from the University of Texas at Austin on May 19, 1984, with a Bachelor of Arts in Government. On May 16, 1987, Justice Peña received his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Texas Southern University. He was licensed as an attorney on May 6, 1988. Justice Peña later (1995-2010) obtained board specialization certification in Labor and Employment Law.
Prior to joining the Court, Justice Peña was a litigator with more than 35 years of courtroom experience. He was repeatedly selected by his peers as one of the best lawyers in the state of Texas when acknowledged as a "Super Lawyer" in Texas Monthly magazine. He also served as a Major in the Texas State Guard, serving as a Staff Judge Advocate at the command headquarters in Austin, Texas.
Justice Peña is a former member of the Texas House of Representatives (2003 -2013) whose Hidalgo County district stretched along the Texas/Mexico border. In that capacity, he served as the Chairman of the Committee of Criminal Jurisprudence, the Chairman of the Committee on Technology, and as Chairman of the Select Committee on Emergency Preparedness.
After his retirement from the Texas House of Representatives, Justice Peña served as Assistant General Counsel for the Texas Department of Agriculture, also serving as the Civil Rights Administrator for the agency. In 2014, Justice Peña accepted employment as the Litigation Director at the Texas General Land Office, along with duties in governmental relations and veterans advocacy. This concluded when Justice Peña assumed judicial duties on this court on January 1, 2023.
Justice Peña is licensed to practice in all Texas state courts. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas, Hidalgo County Bar Association, Cameron County Bar Association, Corpus Christi Bar Association, Victoria County Bar Association and the American Bar Association. He is an active participant in bar activities, having previously served on the board of the Labor and Employment section of the State Bar of Texas. Justice Peña is also a member of the Appellate Law sections of the State Bar of Texas and the American Bar Association. He is a member of the Texas Bar College, a professional society of legal scholars who make an extraordinary commitment to professional education.
Justice Peña is active in the community having served (2007-2009) on the Texas Indigent Defense Commission tasked with funding, overseeing and improving public defense by counsel in each of Texas’s 254 counties. He serves on the Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee organized to study and present advisory recommendations for the redevelopment of Alamo Plaza in San Antonio, Texas. In his home community he served on the boards of the Civil Service Commission, AVANCE, KMBH Public Television, UTRGV Rio Grande Valley Historical Collection Advisory Council, Village in the Valley and the Rio Grande Valley Juneteenth Committee. Justice Peña is an active participant in several initiatives in the battle against substance abuse and addiction and is a regular participant in the scholarship activities of the Texas Association of Addiction Professionals.
Peña is the father of five children, the grandfather of 14 grandchildren and an ever-increasing number of great-grandchildren. He calls the Rio Grande Valley his home.