On April 18, 2016 Judge Jorge Solis, the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, informed Chief Justice John Roberts of his retirement effective on May 1, 2016.
Judge Solis is best known for declaring the Irving Texas City Council at-large method of election unconstitutional in 2010. Manuel Benavidez, a 2007 candidate for the School Board of Irving, filed the lawsuit after losing the election. Solis determined that the at-large system violated the Voting Rights Act by diluting the votes of Hispanics, which made up 40% of the city’s population at the time.
In 2008, Judge Solis presided over the jury trial wherein the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) and five of its leaders were found guilty of providing material support to Hamas, a designated foreign terrorist organization. The judge sentenced Shukri Abu Baker, 50, of Garland, Texas and Ghassan Elashi, 55, of Richardson, Texas, to 65 years in prison.
Judge Solis was born in San Ygnacio, Texas in 1951. He received a B.A. from McMurry College in 1973 and a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1976. Upon graduating from law school, Judge Solis went to work for the criminal district attorney of Taylor County, Texas (Abilene). He was subsequently elected the Criminal District Attorney for Taylor County in 1983. He was the DA for one 4-year term. Afterwards, while in private practice, he worked as a special prosecutor for the West Central Narcotics Task Force in Abilene. He was then elected judge of the 350th Judicial District Court of Taylor County, Texas in 1988.
On June 19, 1991, Solis was nominated by President George H. W. Bush to a seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 12, 1991, and received his commission on September 16, 1991. He became Chief Judge on November 13, 2014.