Honorable John. J. Specia
John Specia Jr.
San Antonio: (210) 734-7092
Austin: (512) 381-1300 ext.152
John J. Specia Jr. is known as a lifelong public servant and effective leader. He is a distinguished jurist and attorney with broad experience in civil law and special expertise in family law, foster care, and Child Protective Services cases. Appointed by Governor Rick Perry in 2012, Specia spearheaded an overhaul of Child Protective Services, developed system enhancements and efficiencies and significant growth of the child abuse and neglect prevention and early intervention programs. Under his leadership, Texas became a national leader in child welfare transformation efforts and research in to child abuse and neglect fatalities.
He was one of the state’s earliest child welfare attorneys, serving as a regional attorney for the then Texas Department of Human Services. Specia spent 18 and a half years as Judge in the 225th District Court in Bexar County. After his retirement, he served as a senior district judge for 6 years. He was instrumental in setting up the Bexar County Children’s Court with specialized services for children and the Family Drug Treatment Court.
Additionally, during his tenure as Judge of the 225 District Court he served as Administrative Judge for Bexar County and Chairman of the Juvenile Board. His judicial experience includes work in all areas of civil, family, and juvenile programs. With a special commitment to children, families, and the prevention of child abuse, he was a founding member of the Texas Supreme Courts Commission on Children, Youth and Families.
Mr. Specia's career has been dedicated to public service for more than three decades and is best known for his child welfare work on behalf of abused and neglected children, those in foster care and in childcare, as well as in the prevention of abuse. He currently serves as a Senior Fellow with the Meadows Policy Institute. Specia was also appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to the Planning Committee for the Judicial Committee on Mental Health. He was a founding member and jurist in residence for the Texas Supreme Court Children’s Commission. Specia established the Bexar County Children’s Court, which provides specialized services for children as well as the Family Drug Treatment Court, which became a model for the state. He was vice-chair of the Supreme Court’s Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth, and Families and chair of the Supreme Court Task Force on Foster Care. Commissioner Specia served as district judge of the 225th District Court in San Antonio for 18 years (1988-2006) and was the administrative judge for Bexar County District Courts for four of those years.
He also served as Master of the 289th Family and Juvenile District Court (1985-1988). Commissioner Specia was one of the state's first child welfare attorneys, serving as a regional attorney for the former Texas Department of Human Services (1980-1985), and he was a family law attorney in private practice before becoming a district judge. After retiring from the bench in 2006, Specia served as partner in the law firm of Plunkett & Gibson, where he practiced mediation, arbitration, private judging and served as a visiting judge. Specia has been an adjunct professor at St. Mary’s School of Law since 1995, teaching trial advocacy, advanced trial advocacy, and international arbitration.
Specia was awarded the Saint Ives Awarded named for patron saint of lawyers. He was honored with the 2012 Infant Mental Health Advocacy Award and received the 2011 Lone Star Award for his work in substance abuse prevention and treatment. Specia was also a recipient of the Dale Wood Award for outstanding protection of children by the judiciary and was named “Judge of the Year” by Texas CASA.
Mr. Specia holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a law degree from St. Mary’s School of Law in San Antonio.