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Voces Oral History Project Interview with Jaime Palacios

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1:50 - Introductions/Early Education

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Segment Synopsis: Jaime “Jay” Palacios was born on November 15, 1960, in San Juan, Texas, but lived in Pharr, Texas, on Boone Street until 1974. He attended Jefferson Elementary in San Juan through the eighth grade. He then attended Carnahan Elementary from first through third grade and then Jefferson Elementary through the eighth grade. Palacios described his first grade teacher, Mrs. Robinson, and Ms. Thelma Burant, from Carnahan Elementary. These teachers encouraged him.

Keywords: Carnahan Elementary; Jefferson Elementary; Pharr,TX; Reynaldo Garza Law School; San Juan, TX; Thelma Burant

Subjects: Segregation in education

7:07 - Background on parents

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Segment Synopsis: Palacios' parents, Berta Saenz and Hector "Tito" Palacios, were well-educated and influenced his own education. Both of them graduated from high school and also attended college. His mother had a master's degree in education. His father played football and attended Wharton Junior College and then Pan American University in Edinburgh.

Keywords: Berta Saenz Palacios; Hector ‘Tito’ Palacios; Wharton Junior College

Subjects: Pan American University

10:00 - After high school/College

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Segment Synopsis: Palacios was very athletic in high school and weighed his options to join the military as a Marine or play college football or baseball. Palacios attended Pan American University in political science. While completing his undergraduate degree at Pan American, Palacios started working as a clerk at a law firm.

Subjects: military service; Pan American University

17:21 - Attending Reynaldo Garza Law School/Fighting for the school

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Segment Synopsis: Raul Longoria, a Texas State Sen. from 1972 through 1980, played a big part in helping Palacios decide to attend Reynaldo Garza School of Law.

The majority of Reynaldo Garza professors were practicing lawyers in the Rio Grande Valley.

The Rio Grande Valley had a mixed response to the Reynaldo Garza School of Law.

The Reynaldo Garza School of Law struggled to carry on. Palacios states, "I don’t think the persons in Dallas or Houston, Austin, or Midland, or Amarillo really cared about the plight of higher education in the Valley."

Keywords: Raul Longoria

Subjects: Lower Rio Grande Valley (Tex.); Reynaldo Garza Law School; Texas, South

37:18 - Garza graduates being allowed to take bar exam

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Segment Synopsis: The Reynaldo Garza Law School was unaccredited, so graduates were not allowed to take the bar. Palacios negotiated with legislators and the American Bar Association in Austin on the weekends for a waiver to take the bar exam.

Keywords: Hector Uribe; Raul Longoria

Subjects: Accreditation (Education)--Law and legislation; American Bar Association; Reynaldo Garza Law School

42:21 - Treatment of Garza graduates/Role model

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Segment Synopsis: After graduating, Palacios and his classmates faced some discrimination because they had attended Reynaldo Garza, an unaccredited law school.

Palacios described one of his great role models, and fellow lawyer, Hermes Villarreal.

Keywords: Hermes Villarreal; Reynaldo Garza Law School

Subjects: Discrimination in higher education--United States; Reynaldo Garza Law School

50:24 - Criminal law/Father's influence

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Segment Synopsis: Palacios practiced criminal law; he had a practice with partner Juan Velasquez. When he was sworn in, his judge gave him a piece of advice for critics who oppose representing people who have been charged with criminal actions: "Once you take that oath of office, your client is that person you have to defend."

Palacios also gave more details about his father's influence in his life and his career.

Keywords: Hector ‘Tito’ Palacios; Juan Velasquez

Subjects: American Bar Association. Section of Criminal Law

56:11 - DWI redemption program/South Texas Border Initiative

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Segment Synopsis: Palacios was elected in 2002 as a Hidalgo County Court at Law Judge. He launched a DWI redemption program to help those charged with DWI get on the right track. It is a yearlong project that yielded 64 graduates, none of whom have reoffended.

Palacios also played a role in negotiating on behalf of Reynaldo Garza Law School.

Palacios and other graduates of the Reynaldo Garza Law School, including Rodolfo Gonzalez, Arnulfo Cantu, and Federico Garza, would love to see another law school in the Rio Grande Valley.

Keywords: Reynaldo Garza Law School; Rio Grande Valley; South Texas Border Initiative