Shared from the 11/9/2017 San Antonio Express eEdition

Former prosecutor sworn in as judge

Picture

New 187th state District Court Judge Joey Contreras is presented with his robe by his sisters, Ruby Contreras (left) and Diana Contreras on Wednesday. U.S. Attorney Richard Durbin is to the right. Marvin Pfeiffer / San Antonio Express-News

With the majestic backdrop of more than 22 judges in robes inside Bexar County Courthouse’s Historic Presiding Courtroom, Joey Contreras, a longtime federal prosecutor, was sworn in Wednesday in a formal investiture ceremony to preside over the 187th Criminal District Court.

Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Contreras to the bench recently vacated by Judge Steven C. Hilbig, who retired before his term was to expire Dec. 31, 2018.

Contreras, originally from Houston, has spent nearly 30 years as a trial lawyer. He has prosecuted high-profile cases involving organized crime groups such as the Texas Mexican Mafia and the Texas Syndicate. Most recently, he was an assistant U.S. attorney based in San Antonio working in the White Collar Unit. He also has served in the San Antonio Division’s Major Crimes Unit.

“His experience in the federal justice system gives him the knowledge and skills,” said Richard L. Durbin, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, who is a longtime colleague of Contreras. “His character will make him a great judge.”

State District Judge Sid Harle, presiding judge of the Fourth Administrative Judicial Region, officially administered the oath to Contreras as a packed courthouse gallery looked on. Family members then helped him put on his robe.

As he addressed the crowd, Contreras spoke of his upbringing in Houston and honored the memory of his parents, who raised nine children in a two-bedroom house that had one bathroom.

He also spoke of personal tragedy and living through the deaths of two brothers and a nephew years ago at the hands of a gunman, which helped him understand justice.

“Justice can move mountains,” he said. “I understand the need for justice. It’s a precious thing. I am deeply honored; I’m very humbled.” ezavala@express-news.net | Twitter: @elizabeth2853

See this article in the e-Edition Here