Barbara Lane Walther
Barbara Walther has been the presiding judge of the 51st Judicial District Court of Texas since 1992. The district's jurisdiction includes Tom Green (San Angelo), Schleicher (Eldorado) , Irion (Mertzon), Sterling (Sterling City), and Coke (Robert Lee) counties.
Judge Walther was the first woman and the first Republican to win election to the office. Voters have elected her six times, she has never lost an election.
Judge Walther received national attention and praise in 2008 for her handling of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints and Yearning for Zion trials in which more than 400 children were rescued from abuse. The group's leader, Warren Jeffs, is serving a life sentence plus 20 years for sexual crimes involving children. Walther was the presiding judge at the trial; the conviction has been upheld by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest criminal court in Texas.
In May, Judge Walther announced her intention to run for the Republican nomination to the Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 3. Nine judges sit on the court, three will retire at the end of their terms in 2014.
Judge Walther holds a Juris Doctor from the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. She earned her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin, an associate in arts degree from Stephens College.
After graduation from law school, Walther practiced law in Dallas until 1983 when she and her family relocated to San Angelo, Texas. She has been married to Dr. Steven Walther, a board-certified radiologist, for 39 years. They have two children and one grandchild.
In 1987 Walther closed her private practice in San Angelo and accepted an appointment to serve as a Title IV-D Family Law Master for the 7th Judicial Administrative Judicial Region. She continued in that capacity until her election as a district judge in 1993.
Judge Walther is a Sustaining Life Fellow in the Texas Bar Foundation. She is a past member of the Criminal Justice Section Council of the State Bar of Texas, has served as an advisory member of the committee on Judicial Performance for the Texas Judicial Council, and has been appointed by the Court of Criminal Appeals to serve as a member of the Court of Criminal Appeals Education Committee. She has served as a faculty member for numerous Texas Center and Judicial Section education programs, chosen by her peer judges to teach new judges how to perform their duties.
Judge Walther has served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Judicial Section of the State Bar of Texas and as a member of the Site Selection Committee for the Judicial Section of the State Bar of Texas. She also has served on the Curriculum Committee of the Texas Center Judiciary for many years and was Chair of that committee for four years. Judge Walther is a past member of the Board of Directors for the Texas Center for the Judiciary.
Judge Walther served as Chair of the Judicial Section of the State Bar of Texas and Chair of the Texas Center for the Judiciary in 2007. She has also served as the Judicial Section Liaison to the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors and to the Texas Bar Foundation. In 2007 she received a Presidential Citation from State Bar President Martha Dickie. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Texas Chapter honored her with the Outstanding Juris Award in 2008.
In 1997, the Girl Scout Councils of Texas, in celebration of the 85th anniversary of Girl Scouting, selected Judge Walther as one of 85 Texas Women of Distinction. She was honored by the San Angelo Schools Foundation as a San Angelo Angel in 2004. She is a member of the Community Advisory Board of the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women's Health.
In her spare time, Walther enjoys scuba diving, fly fishing, and kayaking.