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Honorable Elisabeth Earle

Presiding Judge, Travis County, Texas Court at Law

Judge Elisabeth Earle was born and raised in Austin, Texas, earning a BA degree from the University of Texas while learning the workings of the law while employed at the State Bar of Texas. In 1990, she moved to London, England, and worked for an American law firm, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. After returning to Austin, Judge Earle worked for the Texas Senate Jurisprudence Committee and the Criminal Justice Division of the Texas Governor’s Office. These experiences reinforced her decision to study the law so she moved to San Antonio, Texas, to attend St. Mary’s University School of Law. While attending St. Mary’s  University School of Law, Judge Earle was honored to receive the National Association of Women Lawyers’ Award.

Judge Earle began her legal career as a prosecutor with the Travis County Attorney’s Office where she focused her attention on prosecuting domestic violence cases. This effort received recognition from the Austin Police Department’s Victim Services Division and the experience reinforced her desire to protect and serve crime victims. In 1998, she was appointed Municipal Court Judge for the City of Austin and, in 1999, was named the first Presiding Judge of the Downtown Austin Community Court, receiving the Community Collaboration Award.

In 2002, Judge Earle successfully won her election to the County Court at Law bench and has been re-elected to serve her fifth term. In addition to presiding over her daily docket, Judge Earle founded the Travis County DWI Court in April 2008 and continues to be the Presiding Judge, furthering the Court’s mission to enhance public safety through providing an intensive, judicially supervised program of team-based counseling, treatment, and supervision to alcohol/substance abuse dependent DWI offenders. In 2011, Judge Earle was voted by her peers to serve as Presiding Judge over the County Court at Law Judges and continues to serve in that role.

Judge Earle frequently speaks on community and restorative justice issues and is often asked to share her vision for using criminal courts to deliver justice to offenders, while simultaneously developing within them a sense of community responsibility and commitment to self-reform. Judge Earle uses her courtroom to change lives and prevent repeat offenses — all to the benefit of offenders, victims, and taxpayers alike. Judge Earle’s efforts have been viewed by some as the most innovative in the field. She has been awarded the Austin Under 40 Award for Government, the Toastmasters International Communication and Leadership Award for outstanding service, and has been honored by her peers, receiving the Austin Young Lawyers Association “AYLA” Outstanding Young Lawyer Award and the AYLA Outstanding Alumni Award. In addition, Judge Earle recently received the 2019 Travis County Women Lawyers’ Pathfinder’s Award recognized for being a role model and pioneer, shattering stereotypes and blazing trails for female attorneys.

In appreciation of her dedication to smart-on-crime policies during the Texas State Legislative session, Judge Earle received the DWI Court Advocate Award from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. Judge Earle was also recognized in Washington D.C. and awarded the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) National President’s Award for Criminal Justice for her role in the implementation of DWI courts nationally. Subsequently, she received the prestigious 2015 MADD Outstanding Judiciary Service Award and recently recognized in July 2019 at the annual MADD Recognition Luncheon for her continuing service.

Judge Earle’s involvement in the legal community extends nationally, serving as Director and Treasurer in the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ). She has volunteered her time as the point person for the “Color of Justice” program, the goal of which is to encourage minority high school students to consider law as a career aspiration, and was recognized for her participation in the 25th anniversary celebration of the International Association of Women Judges. She is a Texas Bar Foundation Fellow, a Master in the Lloyd Lochridge Chapter of the American Inns of Court, and a graduate and past member of the Leadership Austin Board of Directors. Judge Earle has served as President of the Austin Bar Association, President of the Austin Bar Foundation Board, and President of the Austin Young Lawyers Association. She has also volunteered and served on many boards, including the Texas Young Lawyers Association, the Salvation Army, Community Action Network Resource Council, and Volunteer Legal Services of Austin.

Judge Earle has given her time to the Texas Center for the Judiciary by serving on the Budget Committee for the Third Administrative Judicial Region; as Secretary for the Texas Association of County Court Judges; and as a member on the DWI Curriculum Committee, charged with the duty of teaching the curriculum to her colleagues around the state. She was awarded the Texas Center for the Judiciary certificate for Criminal/Juvenile and Civil Jurisprudence at the Texas College for Judicial Studies. In addition, Judge Earle was asked by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission to present at the 15th Anniversary Symposium commemorating the signing of the Fair Defense Act. In 2017, Judge Earle was elected to the State Bar of Texas Judicial Section Board of Directors Place 9 and recently she was asked to serve on the Legislative and Campaign Law Section of the State Bar of Texas.

Judge Earle is the proud mother of Alexandra Claire and Avery Elise, and married to Jeffrey Clark, President and CEO of the Advanced Power Alliance.

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