Ricardo Rodriguez, Jr., is a native of Edinburg, Texas. Born to teenage parents, Rodriguez spent his early life traveling across Texas and the United States to work in the fields as a migrant farmworker. Upon graduating from Edinburg High School, Rodriguez became the first in his family to attend college, receiving an Academic and Athletic Scholarship to the University of Texas at San Antonio where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration - Accounting in 1995. He continued his education and received his Juris Doctorate degree from Texas Southern University, Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 1999. Rodriguez was admitted to practice in the state of Texas and United States District Court, Southern District of Texas, and established his own private practice which included criminal, family, civil, and federal cases. In 2002, Rodriguez was elected Council Member for the City of Edinburg and served for two terms.
In 2006, Rodriguez was elected in a special election to preside over the 92nd District Court for a two year term and subsequently was re-elected to the office in 2008 for an additional four year term. While on the bench, Rodriguez was appointed by the Board of Judges as the overseer for the Auxiliary Drug Court in Hidalgo County, and was also appointed by the Board of Judges to administer the Hidalgo County Drug Court Diversion Program for first-time drug offenders. Rodriguez took great pride in the program, which boasted a tremendous success rate for participants.
In 2012, Rodriguez ran unopposed and was re-elected for yet another four year term, where he served until stepping down in August 2013 to run for Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney. In March 2014, Rodriguez was elected Criminal District Attorney and began his tenure as the County’s top prosecutor in January 2015 and in March 2018, was re-elected to the office for an additional four-year term.
During his tenure as Criminal District Attorney, Rodriguez prided himself on the many new initiatives he and his staff implemented. He oversaw an office of 216 employees, which consisted of staff and lawyers. Most notably, Rodriguez created the Special Crimes Division, the Victims Unit, the Domestic Violence Unit and the Human Trafficking Unit, to help victims of crime navigate through the judicial process. Since 2015, the District Attorney’s Office was awarded over three million in federal grant funding for the following programs: Victim Coordinator and Liaison Grant (VCLG), Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), Violence Against Women Act (VOWA), JAG Domestic Violence Unit and Buffet-McCain Initiative to Combat Modern Day Slavery. The Victims Unit, Human Trafficking Unit and Domestic Violence Unit consist of sixteen advocates, seven prosecutors, two coordinators, two investigators, three legal administrative assistants and a director.
He and his Victims Unit Director were recognized on a national level for their mutual efforts by being appointed to the National Organization for Victims Assistance board of directors, where they strived to influence national policy for better assistance for crime victims.
Rodriguez also served as a board member for the Children’s Advocacy Center of Hidalgo and Starr Counties, Hidalgo County Bail Bond Board, Border Prosecution Unit Executive Committee, South Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Executive Committee and the Financial Sub-Committee, Special Prosecution Unit Executive Board of Directors, Criminal Justice Advisory Committee to the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA), Rio Grande Valley Texas Anti-Gang Board, Thurgood Marshall School of Law Alumni Board, and the Texas District and County Attorneys Association Diversity, Recruitment and Retention Committee.
Rodriguez worked in conjunction with all Hidalgo County law enforcement agencies, the Hidalgo County Health Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Transportation to implement the Labor Day No Refusal campaign, which recently completed its seventh year.
In addition, the DA’s office, collaborated with the State of Texas and the Hidalgo County Community Supervision and Corrections Department (Adult Probation) to oversee several specialty courts which provided court supervised probation and mandated treatment focused on treating issues underlying criminal behavior, including the DWI Court, Mental Health Court, Family Violence Court, Veteran's Specialty Treatment Court, Drug Court, SATF Re-Entry Court and the Youthful Offender Program.
Rodriguez and his office also participated in numerous awareness campaigns and events throughout Hidalgo County to promote education and awareness of resources and assistance available, including Young Hearts Matter - Teen Dating Violence, Child Abuse Prevention, National Crime Victims Rights Week, Sexual Assault Awareness, Mental Health Awareness, National Day of Remembrance for Murdered Victims and Domestic Violence Awareness, World Day Against Trafficking in Persons among others. These efforts aimed to increase awareness, promote prevention, and bring attention to many issues affecting many Hidalgo County victims and families.
Awards & Recognitions
During his tenure as Hidalgo County Criminal District Attorney, Rodriguez received the following awards and recognitions: 2015 Mothers Against Drunk Driving Diamond Hero Award, 2016 Children’s Advocacy Center Spotlight Award, 2017 Rio Grande Valley Families & Friends of Murdered Children Justice Advocacy Award, 2018 Children’s Advocacy Center Recognition Award, 2018 Court Appointed Special Advocates Commitment Award, 2018 Tropical Texas Behavioral Health “La Luna” Award, 2018 Young Hearts Matter Elected Official of the Year Award, 2019 San Juan Nursing Home Azpiazu Award, 2019 Angels of Love Vision Award and 2020 Young Hearts Matter State of Texas Partner for Change Award.
In 2022, Rodriguez was recognized by Children’s Advocacy Centers of Hidalgo and Starr Counties, Palmer Drug Abuse Program, Mujeres Unidas/Women Together and Hidalgo County Bail Bond Association for his commitment and dedication in serving the citizens of Hidalgo County.