Rafael Anchia to Receive 2014 MLK Justice Award
by Dawn Fowler
“He is courageous. His courage, patience, tenacity and passion for justice brought this issue to the forefront. He opened doors and he opened eyes. His interest is public policy, not politics. He truly believes he was elected to servethe people of the State of Texas, and to improve the lives of all Texans, regardless of party affiliation.”
- Cory Session, Timothy Cole’s brother and Policy Director at The Innocence Project of Texas, on the role of Rafael Anchia inthe passage of the Tim Cole Act.
On January 20, 2014, the Dallas Bar Associationwill honorTexas State Representative Rafael Anchia as the 2014 recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Justice Award. The award, given annually, recognizes attorneys who embody thevalues and principles ofthe life and legacy of Dr. King: justice, compassion and service.
The son of Mexican and Spanish immigrants, who taught himthe value of education, hard work and commitment, Representative Anchia was inspired early in life to become a lawyer and enter public service when he participated in a public school "court observer program, which provided his first exposure to the justice system." He applied that inspiration toward earning a full scholarship to attend Southern Methodist University, where he graduated with honors. He received another scholarship to attend Tulane University where he earnedhis law degree. At Tulane, he served as a volunteer advocate for immigrant detainees denied legal counsel, and worked on legislationmonitoringnursinghome conditions which later became law.It is not surprising, then, that in his practice as an attorney with the international law firm Haynes and Boone, where Representative Anchia specializes in public and corporate finance, public service has remained a constant and dual focus.
Representative Anchia began his public service locally as a member of the Boardof Trustees for the Dallas Independent School District. Twice elected to theBoard, his efforts helped win public approval of a $1.37 billion bond package that provided thousands of children with improved classrooms and learning environments. On a national level, he served as Chairman of the Board of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, a leading national non- profit and non-partisan organizationthat facilitates full Latino participation in the American political process fromcitizenship to public service.
In November 2004, Rafael Anchia was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. His district, House District 103, serves a western corridor of Dallas County, including parts of North Oak Cliff, West Dallas,La Bajada, Los Altos, Love Field, North Park and portions ofthe cities of Irving, Farmers Branch and Carrollton. He currently Chairs the International Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee within the legislature and is anappointee of President Obama to the federal Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. In the 83rd legislative session, he was appointed to the bi-national Border Legislative Conference. He previously served as Vice-Chair of the Pensions, Investments and Financial Services Committee and on the prestigious Sunset Advisory Commission.
Having lived the American Dreamthat inspired hisparentstomove to the United States, Representative Anchia has a genuine passion for helping people and true empathy for their struggles and aspirations. During his service in the legislature,he has worked tirelessly on legislation to protect civil rights, improve public safety, protect our environment and improve health coverage for women andchildren. When asked about his most satisfying accomplishment, Representative Anchia responded without hesitation:“The Tim Cole Act.” Working with The Innocence Project, Representative Anchia sponsored House Bill 1736, resulting in legislation that increases the amount of compensation paid by the State of Texas and provides other benefits to individuals found to have been wrongfully imprisoned.
“I have witnessed the significant difference this recognition and payment has made in the lives ofdozens of innocent men and women and their families,” said Representative Anchia. “I have stayed in contact with many ofthese individuals and have noted a direct and tangible impact. I have seen themnot only get back on their feet, but also thrive. Iam proud to have played a part in seeing justice served.”
Prominent Dallas criminal attorney and President of the Board of Directors at The Innocence Project of Texas, Gary Udashen, said: “The TimCole Act put Texas ahead of the rest of the country on this issue, and RepresentativeAnchia has been a leader and supporter in this area.”
Representative Anchia has received numerous community awards, including the American Jewish Committee’s Institute of Human Relations Award, Texas Lawyer’s Extraordinary Minority in Texas Law and LULAC’s National “Man of the Year.”
He has also received legislative honors too numerous to list—fromTexas Monthly’s Top Freshman and Ten Best Legislators to Hispanic Business' 50 Most Influential U.S. Hispanics in 2012. The Representative was also appointed by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to the Democratic National Committee as an at-large member in August 2013.
The Dallas Bar Association is honored to present Representative Anchia with this prestigious award for his service to the Dallas community and the State ofTexas. Please join us in thanking and honoring himat the Martin Luther King, Jr. Justice Award luncheon at noon at the Belo Mansion. Members of the DBA and the community are invited to attend. To make reservations,contact Biri Avina at firstname.lastname@example.org. A plated lunch willbe served at a cost of $12.76.
Dawn Fowler is co-chair of the PublicationsCommittee and is a partner at Keane, Fowler & Donohue where she specializes in family law and is an advanced credentialed mediator. She can be reached at email@example.com.