Senate confirms local native as federal judge

BROWNSVILLE — The U.S. Senate yesterday confirmed Fernando Rodriguez Jr., a Harlingen native, to fill a vacancy for federal judge in Brownsville.

He will replace U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen, who is hoping to retire soon and is moving to Houston to be closer to family.

Rodriguez currently works as a field office director in the Dominican Republic for International Justice Mission, where he leads efforts to combat sex trafficking of children. He also did similar work in Bolivia.

“Fernando’s tireless work combating human trafficking shows his deep devotion to serving others,” said U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in a news release. “The community will be well-served by having him return to his native South Texas, and I am pleased that the Senate has voted to confirm him to this seat.”

Van Beckwith, a longtime friend of Rodriguez who is a partner and department chair of litigation at Baker Botts, pointed to Rodriguez’s life-changing decision to leave Baker Potts to fight sex trafficking as a sign of his character.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said he was thrilled the Senate overwhelmingly voted to confirm Rodriguez.

“He has dedicated his life to the cause of justice, in particular, combating the heinous crimes of modern day slavery and human trafficking around the world. I am confident his experience, diligence, and commitment to the rule of law will serve him and South Texans well as our newest federal district court judge,” Cruz said.

Before joining International Justice Mission, Rodriguez was a partner in the Dallas office of Baker Botts and a briefing attorney for Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan L. Hecht.

He graduated from Yale and attended the University of Texas School of Law and graduated with honors in 1997.