Judge Tonya Parker was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014 as Judge of the 116th Civil District Court in Dallas County, Texas. While in private practice, Judge Parker earned partnership at two Dallas law firms, where she was a civil litigator and trial attorney for plaintiffs and defendants in complex commercial and tort litigation matters. She received her Juris Doctorate from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in 1998.
A distinguished and respected jurist, Judge Parker will serve her colleagues in 2016 as the Presiding Judge of the Dallas County Civil District Courts and is the immediate past president of the Texas Association of District Judges. In the 2015 and 2013 Judicial Evaluation Polls of the Dallas Bar Association, she earned overall approval ratings of 93% and 95%, respectively (the highest ratings of any civil district judge evaluated in the polls). The Dallas Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) named Judge Parker its 2015 Trial Judge of the Year. The State Bar of Texas African American Law Section also honored Judge Parker with its 2015 Distinguished Jurist Award. She has also been awarded the Honorable L.A. Bedford Outstanding Jurist Award and the Honorable Sam A. Lindsay Award for Professionalism and Ethics—both awards from the J.L. Turner Legal Association. Judge Parker is a frequent panelist on CLE and ethics programs related to civil litigation, courtroom advocacy, and judicial independence.
Prior to joining the judiciary, Judge Parker was a respected member of the bar. She was recognized by her attorney peers as one of the top lawyers in Texas by being voted a Super Lawyers’ Rising Star three years in a row from 2006 to 2008, and again for a fourth time in 2010 just before she was elected to office. Also in 2010, she received Outstanding Mentor awards from both the J.L. Turner Legal Association and the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers. The Dallas Association of Young Lawyers also named Judge Parker Outstanding Young Lawyer of Dallas in 2006. Prior to that, the Dallas Bar Association recognized her with its Outstanding Minority Attorney Award and an Award of Excellence. Judge Parker is also a former American Marshall Fellow, in which capacity she traveled throughout Europe for a period in 2005 to promote transatlantic relations and learn about the social, political and economic systems of various European countries.
Judge Parker is a devoted public servant outside the legal arena. She keynotes scores of community events, including luncheons, dinners, convocations, and graduation ceremonies. She is also a regular volunteer with Ignite, a non-partisan organization aimed at building political ambition in and training young women (ages 14-22) to run for public office. Throughout her legal career, she has served on numerous legal and civic boards and commissions, including as chairperson of the Dallas Arts District Alliance’s Board of Directors, commissioner on the City of Dallas Community Development Commission, at-large director for the Dallas Bar Association Board, a two-term board member for the J.L. Turner Legal Association, and a two-term advisory board member for the Dallas Women Lawyers Association.
Her personal and professional mantra is “Shrink from no sacrifice in one’s service of God, family, and community.”