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In Memoriam: Honorable Philip R. Martinez

July 13, 1957 – February 26, 2021

The Western District of Texas is deeply mourning the loss of U.S. District Judge Philip R. Martinez, who passed away very unexpectedly on Friday, February 26, 2021. Judge Martinez was a native El Pasoan. He received his B.A. in Political Science with High Honors from his beloved University of Texas at El Paso and his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1982.

He was elected Judge of El Paso County Court at Law #1 in 1990, and subsequently was appointed and re-elected to the 327th Judicial District Court. In 2001, Judge Martinez was nominated by President George W. Bush to the United States District Court bench in the El Paso Division of the Western District of Texas, receiving his commission on February 12, 2002.

Judge Martinez’s service to the public extended far beyond work on his court. With the federal courts, his service included being appointed by Chief Justice John Roberts as a member of the Court Administration and Case Management Committee for the Judicial Conference of the United States, the policy making body of the federal courts. He was also a member of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts Court Compensation Study Focus Group and Executive Committee Member of the Federal Judges Association.

Judge Martinez was very involved in leadership positions in professional organizations. At the state level, Judge Martinez served as Chair of the State Bar of Texas Juvenile Law and Judicial Sections and as Director of the Texas Center for the Judiciary. At the national level, he served as Chair of both the American Bar Association’s (ABA) National Conference of Federal Trial Judges and Standing Committee on Diversity of the Judiciary. He was a longtime and active member of the ABA, the Federal Bar Association, the Hispanic National Bar Association, the El Paso Bar Association, the George McAlmon American Inns of Court, and the Mexican American Bar Association.

In civic organizations, he served as Director and Co-Chairman of the National Conference of Christians and Jews; Director of the El Paso Holocaust Museum; and Co-Chair of the UTEP Centennial Commission. Judge Martinez was also a very accomplished golfer and pianist.

Judge Martinez is survived by his wife, Mayela; his daughters Jaclyn and Lauren, and their spouses; his grandson, Bobby; and his parents, Phil and Lina Martinez.

His passing is a tremendous loss for the Western District of Texas and to the legal profession. Judge Martinez was widely respected and admired as a jurist of great intellect, hard work, impeccable professional ethics, and a deep passion for justice. His family, many friends, and co-workers will remember him as an extremely kind, gentle, and thoughtful person, with a warm, ready smile. We are all truly saddened by the passing of a dear colleague. His public service will long be remembered.

United States District Court, Western District of Texas

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