Judge Tonya Parker was elected in 2010 and has been re-elected twice as Judge of the 116th Civil District Court in Dallas County, Texas. While in private practice, she 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. Upon graduation, her peers selected her to receive the John E. Kennedy Memorial Scholarship for her service and dedication to the law school community.
A respected jurist among her collagues, Judge Parker served as the Presiding Judge of the thirteen Dallas County Civil District Courts for two years and is a past president of the Texas Association of District Judges. Since taking office in 2011, Judge Parker has been rated in four Juicial Evaluation Polls administered by the Dallas Bar Association; in each poll she has earned the highest overall approval rating of any civil district court judge evaluated (acheving overall approval ratings of 93% or above in each of the four polls).
The State Bar of Texas African American Law Section has twice honored Judge Parker with its Distinguished Jurist Award in 2019 and 2015. The Dallas Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) named Judge Parker its Trial Judge of the Year in 2015.
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 programs related to implicit bias in civil jury trials, 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.
A devoted public servant outside the legal arena, Judge Parker 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 making no sacrifice in one’s service of God, family, and community.”