EDINBURG — When being sworn in to the 13th Court of Appeals on Thursday afternoon, Jaime E. Tijerina marked the occasion by reciting something he read in an article: “Remember the uniform that you’re wearing.”
Tijerina, who is filling the vacancy left by former state District Judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado, referenced an article he read in the Bar General about Boy Scouts and the 12 points of Scout Law.
“My challenge to everyone was going to be to recognize that we wear a uniform too,” Tijerina said at the swearing in ceremony, held at the Hidalgo County Courthouse Annex III in Edinburg. “(The 12 points) all appear in our disciplinary rules of professional conduct. So we’re bound by those same things that Boy Scouts are, and we should uphold those principles. We should do things that elevate our profession.”
The mood in the courtroom was jubilant as a standing-room-only crowd watched Tijerina take the oath of office, which was administered by his friend, Municipal Court Judge Marcus Barrera.
“I think Jaime’s going to do a great job, and it’s my pleasure to swear him in today,” Barrera said just prior to Tijerina taking the oath. “I’m sure his dad, who was a federal magistrate judge long ago in McAllen, is going to be very proud of him. I know his family is too.”
A member of the State Bar of Texas and the College of the State Bar, Tijerina is also a fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and the Texas Prosecutor’s Society, in addition to being a former member and director of the Texas District & County Attorneys Association.
His other roles include serving as a board member of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Alumni Advisory Board and a former member of the Food Bank RGV Board of Directors.
Joking that he’d be a rich man if he had a dollar for every time he’s been sworn into public office, Tijerina set a tone during Thursday’s ceremony that was lighthearted and contrasts the dubious circumstances — Delgado’s conviction in July on federal bribery charges — leading to his appointment.
“I’d be richer if I had a dollar for every time I was sworn at,” Tijerina said in jest.
The moment also evoked nostalgia for Tijerina, who recalled taking the oath of office in the same room at the courthouse nearly 25 years ago.
“At that time they did a ceremony here at the 13th for all the new attorneys,” Tijerina said. “That was a long time ago, and it reminds me that I’m no longer the young lawyer that used to practice law.”
The appellate court justice is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, and currently serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves’ Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
In fact, he said his initial plans to seek a seat on the appellate court nearly 13 years ago were put on hold after receiving orders for deployment to Afghanistan.
Looking ahead at his tenure on the court, of which his appointment runs through Dec. 31, 2020, Tijerina now hopes to regain the public’s trust following Delgado’s conviction.
“It’s hard to ignore the circumstances that got me here today,” Tijerina said. “I think that we’re able to (restore public trust) just by simple things every day, and trying to do the right thing every time and getting the public to notice that too. Lawyers and judges are doing positive things for the community.”