It's no surprise that Debra Ibarra Mayfield chose the legal profession as a career. Her father, Amado Ibarra Jr., a sheet metal fabricator who led the team that manufactured the metal star that hangs outside the Harris County Civil Courthouse in Houston, literally marked the spot where he hoped his daughter would work.
"He didn't live long enough to see me appointed as a judge, but the star was my inspiration and a reminder that I am here in the courthouse to serve the public through the administration of justice," she says.
Appointed by Governor Greg Abbott as judge of the 165th Civil District Court in 2015, Mayfield will be on the ballot this November to be elected to the position. But it's not her first judgeship or campaign. She's the former judge for the Harris County Civil Court at Law Number One, to which she was reelected twice after being appointed to the bench. She also set a benchmark with that appointment, becoming the first Latina county court judge.
The Houston native is the youngest of three children. She and her older brothers were also the first generation in the family to attend college. Her father encouraged his children to pursue their dreams, including college and public service. Her mother, Herlinda, also set an example for her daughter.
"My mom reminds me that the most important role I play is that of wife and mother," shares Mayfield. "She's also a strong example of how to keep it all together, through leadership and encouragement. "
Perhaps her father's focus on public service inspired her, but Mayfield says she knew at a young age that she wanted to pursue a career in public service, particularly as a lawyer. After graduating from South Texas College of Law, she worked for an appellate justice at the Court of Appeals. While writing legal opinions, she says she became even more passionate about the rule of law and became more committed to serving the public through the institutions of justice and fairness.
Former Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina has seen Mayfield's career progress since she was a law student. He's been impressed by her preparedness and work ethic.
"She was a very good trial and appellate attorney," he says. "I've also had the honor of appearing before her in court. She's always very prepared and mindful of the parties before her. She has an excellent knowledge of the law and how to apply it."
In her current position, Mayfield hears all types of civil cases, from personal injury to business...