My story is the story of the best of America because it is uniquely American and illustrates the greatness of our country.

I’m the youngest of nine children. My mother bore nine children at one year intervals, although her last four children were two sets of twins, separated by a single year. With the birth of my twin brother and me, my mother simultaneously cared for two newborns, two one year olds, a two year old, a three year old, and so on. She did so largely alone because my father worked such long hours.

We grew up in abject poverty. My parents raised us in a tiny two bedroom house. My father, who had a fourth grade education, drove a truck and sold fruits and vegetables from our backyard. We never lived above the poverty line.

As we got older, we were expected to help provide for the family. Every summer, from an early age, we sold watermelons from the back of an old truck parked on the side of the road. It was hot, dusty, monotonous work. But we did it every summer. We never complained.

Our neighborhood was in a poor working class part of Houston known as the Northside. It was rife with drugs and alcohol abuse. Many of those we grew up with ended up addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, and quite a few ended up serving jail or prison sentences. Many died early deaths.

My father, with his limited education and few opportunities, was a highly intelligent man. He placed heavy emphasis on education. I heeded my father’s words and excelled in school. I was accepted to Cornell University with full tuition and the cost of attendance provided at no cost by the university. I did well at Cornell and then attended law school at the University of Texas.

Then I began my legal career. I was a state prosecutor from 1988 to 1999. In that period I tried hundreds of jury trials, with a special emphasis on murder cases. I won nearly every felony case I handled, including some very difficult cases that cried out for vindication for the victims.

My success as a state prosecutor did not go unnoticed. I was asked to apply at the United States Attorney’s Office as a federal prosecutor and I began my tenure there in 2000. I earned a reputation as a fair but hard-charging prosecutor. I developed a special knack for targeting and successfully prosecuting violent gangs, cartels, and organized crime. I would go on to bring over 3,000 prosecutions as a federal prosecutor, including cases against hundreds of gang members involving numerous unsolved murders. I never lost a case.

On October 25, 2017, Gov. Abbott asked me to serve as judge of the 187th District Court in Bexar County. I agreed.

My background has uniquely prepared me for a felony judgeship. Growing up I saw the tragedy of addiction, the hopelessness of entrenched poverty, and the consequences of criminal behavior. On January 8, 2015, two of my brothers and a nephew were brutally murdered in our old neighborhood. Their killer was caught, given a fair trial, and justice was done.

From a shattered heart, I endured. I prayed for justice and I saw it handed down. I believe in our system of justice. For victims, it can offer hope and bring peace. For the accused, it can bring fairness and justice.

I have five children and a loving family. I’ve devoted my career to making the world a better place for them and our community. As judge of the 187th District Court I will make a difference.