Nov. 19, 2015 – Josefina Rendon, a judicial trailblazer and University of Houston Law Center alumna, was honored recently with the unveiling of her portrait in the city's municipal courts building where she served as judge during three decades.
"I'm the last of twelve children. I never got, expected, nor looked for much attention. So it is almost overwhelming to see you all here helping honor me and hanging me, or at least my portrait," Rendon joked as family and friends filled a courtroom of the downtown Herbert W. Gee Municipal Courthouse.
Rendon made history in Houston by overcoming diversity and gender stigmas and breaking boundaries throughout her legal career. She served as Harris County's first Latina civil district judge from 2008 to 2012 and also served as a city judge for a total of 28 of the last 32 years. She credited the law school for leading the way in establishing a diverse legal community.
"When I started law school, there were so few women and minorities in our law schools," Rendon said. "From early on, UHLC was at the forefront of recognizing and promoting diversity in both its student body and faculty. I'm grateful to UHLC for such a positive experience and for the great education I've received."
After graduating from UH Bates College of Law in 1976, Rendon worked in her own firm for six years. In 1980, Mayor Jim McConn appointed her as the first woman, and first Hispanic, member of the city's Civil Service Commission, where she served as vice-chair. In 1983, Mayor Kathy Whitmire appointed Rendon to her first term as a Houston municipal judge, making her one of the city's first Hispanic female judges. She served in that role until 2008, when she was elected to the bench of the 165th District Court, where she served from 2009 to 2012.
In 2013, she was again appointed to the municipal courts as an associate judge. She continues to serve in that role, as well as maintaining a successful practice as a mediator and teacher of mediation. She has mediated more than 1,200 cases since 1993.
The fourth annual courthouse ceremony was hosted by the family of Herbert W. Gee, a Houston-born Chinese-American attorney who also served as a longtime municipal judge before his death in 2011.
As part of the event, Cynthia Gee, Herbert Gee's widow, and Jeffrey Herbert Gee, their son, presented scholarships to three female, Asian-American UHLC students. Stephanie X. Huang received the $3,000 Herbert W. Gee Scholarship, and Sydney Nguyen and Nicole Su each received $1,000 scholarships from the Asian American Bar Foundation of Houston.
Municipal Court Presiding Judge Barbara Hartle, who unveiled the photographic portrait taken by fellow Judge Robert Rosenberg, told the three law students that Rendon was "someone you would do well to emulate in your future careers."
In August, Rendon was a speaker at the inaugural Orientation Week Dinner for incoming UHLC students, and administered their oath.