S1: E11 Judge Tonya Jones Harris County Criminal Court at Law #15

57 minutes

Judge Tonya Jones is a native Houstonian who grew up in Houston’s South Park/Sunnyside neighborhood and is a proud graduate of Jesse H. Jones Senior High School. She completed her undergraduate studies at Baylor University in Waco, Texas obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. One of her most significant roles at Baylor was her service as a Baylor Ambassador charged with meeting with local state legislators to advocate the importance of maintaining the Pell grant. This was important to her as a first-generation college student who struggled with the various obstacles related to the pursuit of higher education. Tonya graduated Southern University Law Center in 2011 with a juris doctorate degree. While attending Southern, she was actively involved as a member of the National Black Law Student Association Mock Trial Team as well as served as the 3L Class Representative, and a part of the student recruitment committee. Tonya was also a part of the inaugural class of Southern students in the Texas Legislative Internship Program. She worked as a legal intern at the Texas Indigent Defense Commission learning first-hand about the implementation of indigent defense programs throughout various Texas counties. Her most impactful experience at Southern was during her third year where she served as a student attorney in the criminal law clinic. It was here that she ignited her passion to serve those most vulnerable in our society. She currently serves as Judge of Harris County Criminal Court at Law #15. She and 16 other African American women made history during the November 2018 midterm election when they were elected to the bench in Harris County (Houston), the third largest city in the nation. She was the youngest judge elected in Harris County on November 6th and is the First African-American to serve on her bench. Within her first three months on the bench, she, along with her County Criminal Court colleagues ended their appeal in opposition to the historic bail lawsuit that was costing Harris County taxpayers millions of dollars. As a county criminal judge, she was actively involved in the bail reform efforts as well as the historic settlement that proven to be a beacon of light to the nation. Tonya is passionate about public service and uses every opportunity she has to cultivate and encourage future leaders in criminal justice. She has a plan to engage, educate, and empower from the community to the courtroom and is excited about the opportunity to do so. Her wealth of diverse experience and passion for public service gives her a unique and fresh perspective to bring to the bench. Tonya is the oldest of five children. She attends Greater New Testament Baptist Church and is a proud member of the Xi Alpha Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority Inc.

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