Meet Member Tina Buffa

TINA BUFFA

How did you first get involved with TACA?

I was informed two months after being hired that I would need hours and would have to become an active member to TACA.

What is your position, how long have you been in it, and how many people do you supervise?

My title is Court Coordinator; I have been in this position since May of 2011. I do not supervise.

What are you responsible for?

I am responsible for inputting data into the court calendar, mail out of notices (criminal, probate, juvenile, civil) public relations, coordinate with the criminal clerk office.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

What is the reason you are unable to attend court?

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Don’t be a critic.

Who has been the greatest influence on you?

I have to list two of my greatest influences which are my mother and spouse. My mother has demonstrated that a single woman can accomplish a lot through perseverance and hard work. My spouse has taught me to laugh at myself and not to take things seriously. At the end of the day to let things go.

What do you value most in your friends?

Honesty

Tell us about your family (parents, kids, siblings, pets, etc.)

Married 23 years with a daughter attending Texas A&M Kingsville, son in the 7th grade and a 9-month-old yorkie.

What do you wish other people knew about TACA?

TACA is a great organization that will help you understand in detail about your job duties. Plus, the network within TACA members help gives insight to can /cannot work in your workplace.

What do you like most about your job?

The people

What do you like the least about your job?

The people

If you use social networking, which sires do you prefer, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or other?

Facebook

If you didn’t have to work for a living, what would you do?

Light travel, read books and staying home.

Meet Judge Starr Boldrick Bauer

STARR BOLDRICK BAUER

What are of the law did you practice?

I had a general law practice. I have practiced criminal law, juvenile law, corporate and real estate law. I practiced in all areas of family law, representing clients in adoptions, divorces, child custody cases as well as Child Protective Services cases


When did you realize you wanted to become a lawyer? 

A psychic in Dallas told me to apply to law school because my future husband was there. I applied to law school, was accepted, and that is where I got my law degree and met my husband of 28 years! That is a true story, but I do have a family full of lawyers and it was never a matter of IF I would become a lawyer but rather WHEN I would become a lawyer. 

When did you realize you wanted to become a judge?

I practiced law for 21 years when the opportunity presented itself to serve my community in the capacity of judge. I wanted to serve and in 2013 I was appointed to this court and have continued to be re-elected. 

How long have you been a Justice? 

I am not a Justice. I have been a judge for six years.

What is the best part about being a Justice? 

I can’t speak to being a Justice, but I do know about being a judge. Without question, the best part of being a judge is serving my district as a judge with general jurisdiction. I have a five county district and I enjoy providing an open door to my office and an open door to the courtroom.

What is the worst part? 

Most people that appear before me are people in crisis. The worst part of being a judge is being shown how horrible people can be to one another.

If you could change anything about the judicial system, what would it be? 

A Judicial apprenticeship period (maybe 3 months) prior to taking the bench would be a wonderful program. Even having as diverse a law practice as I had, I was not as prepared as I had hoped to be for the demands of the bench. I think all judges will tell you that there is a very steep learning curve when they first take the bench.


What are your passions in life? 

My passions in life are my religion, my family and the law.


Tell us about your family

Boyd is my husband and best friend of twenty-eight years. He is an attorney with a general practice and the father of our three children.  Our oldest son is 25 and is currently attending law school. Our daughter is 21 and is a junior at The University of Texas majoring in journalism. Our youngest son is 15 and is a sophomore at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia. We are a very close family and spend most of our “together” time cheering for our sports teams and traveling.


If you were to leave the bench today, what would you do? 

I would clean my house (which would take about a week)! After that, I would like to sit as a visiting judge, mediate cases as well as return to the practice of law. I cannot imagine completely retiring from the law.

Meet Member Jennifer Surginer

JENNIFER SURGINER

How did you first get involved with TACA? 

I learned about TACA within the first year I came to work in the District Judges Office.

What is your position, how long have you been in it, and how many people do you supervise? 

I have been the Court Administrator for the 343rd Judicial District Court since January of 2017, about two years. I do not directly supervise anyone, but if you count all the attorneys who call me on a daily basis, I’d say roughly 100.

What are you responsible for? 

I am responsible for managing and coordinating the Judge’s court calendar. The judge I work for is the Administrative Judge for our District; so many administrative duties are also present on my plate.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 

“For real?!!!!” and now “This is Jennifer, can I help you?”

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 

I feel as though if I were a little taller, the stack of papers on my desk wouldn’t seem so high.

Who has been the greatest influence on you?

My father was one of the greatest influences in my life.  He taught me to be kind, hardworking, and to be loving person. Those three are the most valuable qualities in my life.

What do you value most in your friends?

Support! Support is so important in most relationships, whether it be friendships or marriages.

Tell us about your family (parents, kids, siblings, pets, etc.)

I have been married to Joshua Surginer for 25 years. We have two wonderful children, Allison and Clayton, and 3 loving dogs. My son is a rancher in South Texas, and my daughter just graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and is now studying for law school. They are both my pride and joy.

What is your motto (words you live by or that mean a lot to you)? 

“Kill them with kindness.” It will make you feel good.

What do you wish other people knew about TACA?

I am a new member and I have yet to attend a conference, but through my co-workers, I have learned that it is exciting and a valuable membership to have.

What sorts of trends do you see?

Drug use is on the rise and so is divorce. Although I do not get much chance to analyze the cases that pass through my office, I do see the types of cases. There seems to be an influx of criminal cases as well as divorce cases.

What do you like most about your job?

I really enjoy the challenge. The opening of this position was honestly like God had opened a door just for me. I had been yearning for the challenge, and I got it.

The least?

The challenge… Ha! Just kidding, I love the challenge, but I hate that I will really never have a clean desk. Some days, it feels like I am not getting anything done.

What is your philosophy about using social networking?

It can be a really great tool, but sometimes, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. I use it to keep in touch with my side of the family that is further north.

If you use social networking, which sires do you prefer, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or others?

Facebook is my paramour 

If you didn’t have to work for a living, what would you do?

My husband and I like to do a lot of wood working and craft making. If I didn’t have to work for a living, I would definitely spend my time crafting.

Meet Judge Gina Benavides

GINA BENAVIDES

What area of law did you practice?

Appellate Justice

When did you realize you wanted to become a lawyer?

My mother tells the story that when I was in the 4th grade I came home from school and told her that my best friend and I were going to be lawyers and have our own girl firm.  Even though I don’t remember this, I do know that I have wanted to be a lawyer for as long as I can remember. My best friend and I are both lawyers but never have practiced together.

When did you realize you wanted to become a judge?

As I began my practice of law, I instantly became interested in the judicial since I was a trial lawyer.  As I continued to Practice, I became more involved in the appellate arena and it was a natural step for me to become an appellate justice. To be precedent to the legal profession is an honor.

How long have you been a judge?

I have been a justice for 12 years.

Tell us about your family

I am married to Sam Calderon, Jr. We have 3 beautiful children, Alyssa, Daniella and Ricardo and two grandchildren, Willow and Trey.

What is the best part about being a Judge?

The best part of being a justice is the ability to analyze the law and provide legal precedent to the legal profession. I also enjoy the civic involvement of being a judge and providing role models for our youth in the community. 

The worst part?

The worst part of being in any judicial position is the restrictions of our robes and legal system to not be able to provide the true assistance that each person needs to fulfill their needs.

If you could change anything about the judicial system, what would it be?

To remind the people of our country that is a 3rd branch of our government and should be fully funded to provide the needs of our community.

What do you do when you’re not at the courthouse?

I spend time with my family. Our two grandchildren currently live with us so we spend many a day being grandparents. Besides my family life, I am very involved in several state and national organizations to provide access to justice to all as well as providing legal education to our legal community and the community as a whole.

If you were to leave the bench today, what would you do?

I would return to the practice of law but focus my attention on issues of legal access to our citizens.

What are your passions?

The Law. I don’t draw, I don’t sing, and I am not crafty. I love to read about the law.

If you can do anything over in life, what would it be?

I have lived my life by the mantra of no regrets. I have been blessed to having a fulfilling life. And to do anything different would change the wonderful life and family that I have.


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