Leaders / Founders
Jo Anne Bernal - El Paso County Attorney
On January 1, 2011 Jo Anne Bernal became the first female elected County Attorney in El Paso’s history.
Ms. Bernal manages an office with an annual budget of 7.5 million and supervises approximately 100 employees including 38 attorneys who practice both civil and criminal law in areas that range from civil rights litigation to juvenile prosecution.
Jo Anne Bernal was born and raised in El Paso, and received her law degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1986.
Prior to joining the El Paso County Attorney’s Office in 1993, Ms. Bernal served 6-years in the Law Enforcement Division of the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
Ms. Bernal is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Currently, Ms. Bernal serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association.
Ms. Bernal is very involved in the community and has served in the Board of Directors of the Advocacy Center for the Children of El Paso, the State Bar of Texas’ Committee on Legal Services to the Poor and the El Paso Police Department Citizen’s Advisory Committee. She is a founding member of the El Paso Women’s Political Action Committee and regularly volunteers at the Opportunity Center for the Homeless of El Paso.
Jo Anne Bernal has been married for 13 years to Eddie Castillo, and has 2 daughters, Cassie and Alexis.
Jaime Esparza - District Attorney
Jaime Esparza, the first elected Hispanic District Attorney for the 34th Judicial District, is now serving his fifth term as the Chief Prosecutor for El Paso, Culberson, and Hudspeth Counties and manages an office of approximately 178 people, including 88 prosecutors and 90 staff members.
About to begin his 19th year in office, Jaime Esparza was recognized by the State Bar of Texas as the 2005-2006 Prosecutor of the Year. The award, given annually to one prosecutor statewide, is recognized as one of the highest honors a prosecutor in the State of Texas may receive. He is credited for working with his colleagues across the state and nation to find better ways to ensure community safety and become more effective prosecutors.
District Attorney Esparza’s leadership in implementing the citywide District Attorney’s Information Management System, or DIMS, has garnered interest from jurisdictions across the state as a model for streamlining the efficiency of the arrest and booking process. The program’s use of technology allows law-enforcement officers and Assistant District Attorneys to interface 24-hours a day, in real time, on criminal cases. As a result, a decision on whether a case would be accepted for prosecution is made immediately, in most routine cases.
Throughout his tenure, Jaime Esparza has demonstrated a commitment to address criminal-justice issues unique to the Southwest border region. In an effort spearheaded by Mr. Esparza, counties along the Southwest border, from Texas to California, continue a successful partnership with the Federal Government, through the Southwest Border Prosecution Initiative, to handle the influx of illegal drugs entering the country at the international ports of entry. Most recently, District Attorney Esparza has dedicated significant resources by establishing a Foreign Prosecution Unit in his office to pursue criminals who have fled to the Republic of Mexico in order to evade justice for crimes committed in the United States. Through ongoing diplomatic and collaborative efforts, by authorities on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border, fugitives are being located, apprehended, and held accountable for their crimes.
Mr. Esparza will tell you that one of the most important functions of his office is the service provided to more than 21,000 victims of crime each year through the Victims Assistance Program. Today, more than ever, his office collaborates at every level on victims’ issues and works to provide outreach, especially in cases involving domestic abuse and violence within the family unit. The Domestic Violence 24-hour project enables prosecutors and investigators to evaluate cases in real time and offer immediate contact, primarily to women and their children, within 24 hours of the defendant’s arrest. Collapsing the time when prosecutors intervene in cases involving domestic abuse offers the greatest possibility for families to begin receiving much needed services in their road to recovery. Every year, Mr. Esparza hosts the “Victims Rights Conference: Help, Hope, Healing” to provide tangible assistance to crime victims and inform them of their rights in the criminal-justice system.
Mr. Esparza's interests in children’s issues led him to implement El Paso's first Child Fatality Review Team and other worthwhile initiatives like Children's Court. He is a founding board member of the Advocacy Center for the Children of El Paso, a facility where investigative agencies collaborate and focus on the needs of children who have been victims of crime.
Mr. Esparza was licensed to practice law in 1983 and is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He served as a prosecutor for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office for four years before returning to El Paso to serve as an Assistant District Attorney and Public Defender for the County of El Paso until he was elected to office in November 1992.
Jaime Esparza, born and raised in El Paso, is a proud 1975 graduate of Burges High School and a 1979 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. In 1983, he earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Houston Law Center. He and his wife Noelia live in east El Paso with their four children, Diego, Adrian, Elena, and Enrique.