Justice Beth Watkins has spent her career representing Texas families, victims of discrimination, injured workers, and consumers as they seek justice in Texas appellate courts. Her experience representing those people whose lives have been changed through no fault of their own has shaped her view of how the justice system works.

Fourth Court of Appeals

Justice Beth Watkins was elected to the Fourth Court of Appeals, Place 2 in 2018. Since taking the bench, she has established herself as one of the hardest-working justices in the state, deciding more than 600 cases and deciding them right—less than 1% of her decisions have been overturned. Beth is a proud lifelong Democrat.

The Fourth Court of Appeals covers 32 counties in South and Central Texas, and more than 3,000,000 people live in its district. Seven justices sit on that Court—six Democrats and one Republican. The justices are elected to six-year terms.

Board Certified in Civil Appellate Law

Beth is board certified in civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She is the only justice currently sitting on the Fourth Court of Appeals—and the only candidate in this race—who is board certified in civil appellate law. She believes that her expertise brings an added element of stability and predictability to the opinions of the Fourth Court of Appeals.

Beth is committed to public service. She has served as President of the San Antonio Bar Association, the San Antonio Bar Foundation, and the Community Justice Foundation. In addition, she served on the State Bar of Texas’s Grievance Committee, and on the Board of Editors for the State Bar’s Texas Bar Journal. She also served on the amicus committee of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association and the Board of Directors of the San Antonio Trial Lawyers Association. Since taking the bench, she has been appointed to sit on two Special Courts of Review—appeals taken by judges who have been disciplined by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Born and raised in San Antonio

Beth was born and raised in San Antonio. She left Texas for college, graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1999, but came home and earned her J.D. from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 2002. While in law school, Beth competed on St. Mary’s moot court team and won the American Bar Association’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition and was recognized as the best speaker in the nation. She was also inducted into the National Order of Barristers and received the Patricia L. Scott Award—an accolade reserved for St. Mary’s most outstanding advocate.

Beth Watkins' Family

Beth lives in a historic home that routinely tests how closely she watches episodes of This Old House. She has a Labrador Retriever and fosters dogs through a local rescue organization.

More about Beth Watkins

Appellate Career

Texas Fourth Court of Appeals—Associate Justice, Place 2  January 2019 – present

Watkins Appeals PLLC—Attorney September 2003 – December 2018

  • serving as counsel in more than 200 appeals through October of 2018
  • handling civil and criminal appeals before state and federal appellate courts
  • performing legal research, writing appellate briefs, and presenting oral argument
  • providing trial support on dispositive motions, bench briefs, and jury charges

St. Mary’s University School of Law

Adjunct Professor of Law, Spring 2020 – present

  • teaching constitutional law
  • teaching police liability

Interim Institutional Legal Research Manager, Fall 2015 – Summer 2017

  • oversaw a team of upper-level law students performing legal research and writing projects

Adjunct Professor of Law, Fall 2006 – Spring 2016

  • taught legal research and writing to first-year law students

Associate Director-Office of Academic Excellence, Fall 2005 – Spring 2008

  • worked with law students to strengthen their writing and studying skills

Fourth Court of Appeals August 2002 – August 2003

Briefing Attorney for Justice Catherine M. Stone

  • Prepared memoranda and draft opinions for the Court’s consideration

When Beth's position working for then-Justice Catherine M. Stone at the Fourth Court of Appeals ended, she started her own law firm. Beth owned and operated her own law firm from September of 2003 through December of 2018. She spent fifteen years representing hardworking Texans in appellate courts across the state and country. She represented clients before almost every appellate court in the State of Texas—including the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. She also represented clients before the US Court of Appeals the Fifth Circuit, and before the US Supreme Court.

Beth represented plaintiffs, so she fought for workers who were hurt on the job, consumers who were injured by products that didn’t perform as they were supposed to, victims of discrimination, and family members of those who were killed by someone else’s negligence.

Beth sometimes represented plaintiffs before the trial courts of Texas. When trial lawyers needed a hand with some of the more complex elements of a case—elements that appellate courts scrutinize on appeal—they sometimes asked her to serve as a second set of eyes or a second set of hands on a case. She helped by responding to motions for summary judgment and other dispositive motions, and by drafting and arguing jury charges. Beth also helped craft judgments, and draft, respond to, and argue motions for new trial.

More often, though, Beth got a phone call from someone after they had won a case at trial and the defendant had appealed. She usually got involved once the trial was over and represented her clients through every stage of the appeal. Beth would file the notice of appeal, handle all the administrative aspects of the appeal, read the appellate record, perform legal research, draft the appellate brief, review the other side’s brief, draft a reply brief, and perform oral argument before the appellate court.

Beth Watkins also challenged the rulings of courts of appeals she didn’t agree with. She took cases to the Texas Supreme Court and to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. She even challenged bad rulings all the way to the US Supreme Court and won.

Education

St. Mary's University School of Law, J.D. - 2002

University of Missouri-Columbia, B.A. - 1999

Alamo Heights High School - 1995

Certifications and Admissions

Beth Watkins was board certified in Civil Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 2008, and was re-certified in 2013, 2018, and 2023.

Beth was admitted to the Texas Bar in November 2002.

Other Admissions:

  • US Supreme Court (2007)
  • US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (2003)
  • US District Court for the Western District of Texas (2003)
Publications/Select Speaking Engagements

Publications/Select Speaking Engagements

  • Sufficiency of the Evidence

            °  State Bar of Texas Damages in Civil Litigation Course, 2024

  • Fourth Court of Appeals Update

            °  San Antonio Bar Association Appellate Practice Section, 2024

  • Review of Factual and Legal Sufficiency Damages on Appeal

            °  Texas Trial Lawyers Association Annual Conference, 2023

  • Operation Lone Star, the Fourth Court’s Experience

            °  Laredo Webb County Bar Association, 2023

  • Integrity: If You Don’t Have It, Nothing Else Matters

            °  St. Mary’s University School of Law, Law Journal Banquet, 2023

  • Using your Powers for Good

            °  St. Mary’s University School of Law, 2023

  • Celebration of Women in Law

            °  State Bar of Texas Women and Law, 2023

  • So You Want to Appeal? A checklist for Your First Civil Appeal

            °  San Antonio Young Lawyers Association, 2023

  • Fourth Court of Appeals Update

            °  San Antonio Bar Association Appellate Practice Section, 2023

  • Appellate Whine and Cheese

            °  San Antonio Bar Association Appellate Practice Section, 2022

  • Fourth Court of Appeals Update

            °  Kendall County Bar Association, 2022

  • Hot Topics Facing Court Reporters

            °  Bexar County Court Reporters Association, 2022

  • Course Director, Civil Appellate 101

            °  State Bar of Texas, Appellate Section, 2022

  • Evidence Jeopardy: Unique Issues in Family Law

            °  Texas Center for the Judiciary Family Justice Conference, 2022

  • Mandamus

            °  State Bar of Texas Civil Appellate Practice 101, 2021

  • Top Tips for Top-Notch Oral Argument Answers

            °  ABA/NJC Appellate Judges Education Institute Summit, 2021

  • When Life Opens a Door

            °  State Bar of Texas Paralegal Division Texas Advanced Paralegal Seminar, 2021

  • Court Reporters and Ethics

            °  Bexar County Court Reporters Association Seminar, 2021

  • An Evening with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (moderator)

            °  State Bar of Texas Appellate and Criminal Justice Sections, 2021

  • Top Ten Evidentiary Reasons for Reversal

            °  Texas Center for the Judiciary Criminal Justice Conference, 2021

  • An Evening with the Texas Supreme Court (moderator)

            °  State Bar of Texas Appellate Section and Texas Supreme Court Historical Society, 2021

  • Seven Opinions too Important to Miss from the Texas Supreme Court’s 2019 Term

            °  San Antonio Trial Lawyers Association CLE, 2020

  • The Psychological State of the Legal Community

            °  State Bar of Texas Advanced Family Law Course, 2020

  • Mandamus and Appeal in Family Law Cases

            °  San Antonio Bar Association Family Law Section CLE, 2020

  • Judicial Panel + Current Practices in the Era of COVID-19

            °  Robert O. Dawson Conference on Criminal Appeals, 2020

  • Texas Supreme Court Update

            °  San Antonio Bar Association Appellate Practice Section CLE, 2020

  • Civil Appeals 101

            °  Bexar County Women’s Bar Association/St. Mary’s Women’s Law Association CLE, 2020

  • The Top Seven Supreme Court Opinions from the 2019 Term

            °  Texas Trial Lawyers Association Annual Conference and CLE, 2019

  • How Appeals Work

            °  Texas A&M University, 2019

  • Practice Before the Fourth Court

            °  San Antonio Bar Association Litigation Section CLE, 2019

  • Criminal Appeals 101

            °  San Antonio Black Lawyers Criminal Law CLE, 2019

  • Summary Judgments in Family Law

            °  San Antonio Family Lawyers Association CLE, 2019

  • Civil Appeals 101

            °  Val Verde County Bar Association Annual Meeting and CLE, 2019

  • Preserving Error from Pleadings to Verdict and Beyond

            °  San Antonio Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section CLE, 2019

  • Meet the Judges: The New Fourth Court of Appeals

            °  San Antonio Bar Association Appellate Practice Section CLE, 2019

  • Inclusion Affirmed: The Texas Fourth Court of Appeals’ All Women Judiciary

            °  American Bar Association Litigation Section 2019 Corporate Counsel CLE, 2019

  • Preservation of Error Strategies in Family Law Appeals

            °  San Antonio Family Law Association CLE, 2017

  • Appeals 101

            °  San Antonio Bar Association Brown Bag CLE, 2017

  • Election of Remedies under the TTCA

            °  Permian Basin Trial Lawyers Association CLE, 2017

  • Networking for Introverts

            °  Bexar County Women’s Bar Association Retreat, 2017

  • Case Law Update

            °  Texas Trial Lawyers Association Car Wrecks Seminar-Dallas, 2016

  • Case Law Update

            °  San Antonio Trial Lawyers Association Real World CLE, 2016

  • Case Law Update-TTLA Car Wrecks Seminar

            °  Texas Trial Lawyers Association Car Wrecks Seminar-San Antonio, 2016

  • Trips, Traps, and the Texas Tort Claims Act

            °  San Antonio Trial Lawyers Association Staff CLE, 2016

  • Trips, Traps, and the Texas Tort Claims Act

            °  San Antonio Trial Lawyers Association CLE, 2015

  • What’s Behind the Curtain?

            °  San Antonio Bar Association Extreme Family Law Makeover XIII, 2015

  • Civil Appeals 101

            °  St. Mary’s University School of Law Homecoming CLE, 2015

  • Paid or Incurred: Trial and Appellate Strategies

            °  State Bar of Texas Advanced Personal Injury Law Course, 2012

  • The Top Ten Traps to Avoid in Med-Mal Expert Reports

            °  Texas Trial Lawyers Association Annual Medical Malpractice Seminar, 2008

  • The Top Ten Traps to Avoid in Expert Reports

            °  San Antonio Trial Lawyers Association Annual Seminar, 2007

Select Professional Awards

     ·   Outstanding Mentor Award-San Antonio Young Lawyers Association, 2023

     ·   Super Lawyer-Appellate Law-Texas Monthly, 2019

     ·   Best Lawyers in San Antonio-Appellate Law-Scene in SA Monthly, 2019

     ·   Super Lawyer-Appellate Law-Texas Monthly, 2018

     ·   Best Lawyers in San Antonio-Appellate Law-Scene in SA Monthly, 2018

     ·   Super Lawyer-Appellate Law-Texas Monthly, 2017

     ·   Best Lawyers in San Antonio-Appellate Law-Scene in SA Monthly, 2017

     ·   Super Lawyer-Appellate Law-Texas Monthly, 2016

     ·   Rising Star-Appellate Law-Texas Monthly, 2016

     ·   Best Lawyers in San Antonio-Appellate Law-Scene in SA Monthly, 2016

     ·   Rising Star-Appellate Law-Texas Monthly, 2015

     ·   Best Lawyers in San Antonio-Appellate Law-Scene in SA Monthly, 2015

     ·   Rising Star-Appellate Law-Texas Monthly, 2014

     ·   Best Lawyers in San Antonio-Appellate Law-Scene in SA Monthly, 2014

     ·   Rising Star-Appellate Law-Texas Monthly, 2013

     ·   Best Lawyers in San Antonio-Appellate Law-Scene in SA Monthly, 2013

     ·   Rising Star-Appellate Law-Texas Monthly, 2012

     ·   Best Lawyers in San Antonio-Appellate Law-Scene in SA Monthly, 2012

     ·   Rising Star-Appellate Law-Texas Monthly, 2011

     ·   Best Lawyers in San Antonio-Appellate Law-Scene in SA Monthly, 2011

     ·   Best Lawyers in San Antonio-Appellate Law-Scene in SA Monthly, 2010

     ·   Rising Star-Appellate Law-Texas Monthly, 2009

     ·   Best Lawyers in San Antonio-Appellate Law-Scene in SA Monthly, 2009

     ·   Best Lawyers in San Antonio-Appellate Law-Scene in SA Monthly, 2008

     ·   Best Lawyers in San Antonio-Appellate Law-Scene in SA Monthly, 2007

     ·   Outstanding Young Lawyer of San Antonio-San Antonio Young Lawyers Association, 2007