Jurists in Residence
The Jurist in Residence (JIR) position was created to foster judicial leadership and promote greater expertise among child protection judges. The JIR develops relationships with retired and sitting judges, acts as a consultant, trainer, and speaker to provide expert and seasoned judicial advice on matters affecting courts and legal system handling of child welfare cases and issues, and publishes informational letters and electronic communiques concerning items of interest, such as changes in policy, law, practice, and training events. Additionally, the JIR assists with the development of curriculum for the annual Children’s Commission Child Welfare Judges Conference, and moderates and presents at this conference and many others. The JIR also reviews updates to the Child Protection Law Bench Book; and attends and participates in events on behalf of the CC, including Round Tables, other conferences, and Trial Skills Trainings.
The Children's Commission has two Jurists in Residence, Judge Dean Rucker and Judge Rob Hofmann, and Special Judicial Advisor, Justice Michael Massengale.
Hon. Dean Rucker, Presiding Judge Seventh Administrative Region
The Honorable Dean Rucker is the Presiding Judge of the Seventh Administrative Judicial Region of Texas, Senior Judge of the 318th Family District Court, sitting by assignment, and serves as Supreme Court Children's Commission Jurist in Residence (JIR).
Judge Rucker is board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is the 2015 recipient of the Judge Sam Emison Memorial Award given by the Texas Academy of Family Lawyers and the 2014 recipient of the Samuel Pessarra Outstanding Jurist Award presented by the Texas Bar Foundation. In 2015, Judge Rucker received the Judicial Excellence in Education Award from the Texas Center for the Judiciary. He is also the 2014 recipient of the Harriett Herd Founders Award from Centers for Children and Families of Midland. In 2006, he was awarded the Chair’s Award of Excellence by the Texas Center for the Judiciary. Judge Rucker was also honored as the 2005 Jurist of the Year by the Texas Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. In 1997, Texas CASA recognized Judge Rucker as the Clayton E. Evans Judge of the Year. Judge Rucker is Past Chair of the Judicial Section, State Bar of Texas and the Texas Center for the Judiciary. He is a member of the Family Law Section and serves on the Family Law Council, the Formbook Committee, and the Legislative Committee. He previously served as the Judicial Advisor to the Family Law Council for many years. He is a member of the Texas Family Law Foundation and serves as the Judicial Advisor on its Board of Directors. Judge Rucker is the Vice-Chair of the State Bar Pattern Jury Charge Oversight Committee and a past member of the State Bar Pattern Jury Charge-Family/Probate Committee. He is a member of the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists and the Midland County Bar Association. Judge Rucker was a charter Commissioner on the Supreme Court of Texas Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families and is the Past Chair of the Texas Children’s Justice Act Task Force.
As JIR, Judge Rucker assists with developing curriculum for the annual Child Welfare Judges Conference, reviews updates of the Child Protection Law Bench Book, and provides technical assistance during the Texas Legislative Session and other special matters.
Judge Rucker has spoken at conferences for the Texas Center for the Judiciary, the National Council of Family and Juvenile Court Judges (NCJFCJ), the State Bar of Texas, and the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists. He earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Trinity University in 1977 and a J.D. from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 1980.
Hon. Rob Hofmann, Judge of the 452nd District Court
Rob Hofmann began his career of public service for the State of Texas in 1996, now serving as judge of the 452nd Judicial District in the western Hill Country. In 2018, Judge Hofmann was appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas to serve as a Jurist in Residence for the Children’s Commission and later received the Texas CASA Judicial Leadership Award. In 2016, Education Reach for Texans formally recognized his work as chair of the Commission’s Foster Care and Education Committee to improve educational outcomes for children. He is a Board Member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and has served Texas as the judicial representative at the Children’s Bureau State Planning Meeting and National Court Improvement Program Judicial Leadership Convening. In 2011, Judge Hofmann was named Texas CASA Judge of the Year and has worked with the National Center for State Courts, both as faculty and to help in creation of the first national ASFA Well-Being Outcomes. He is a member of the College of the State Bar of Texas and Sustaining Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. Judge Hofmann graduated from Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University School of Law. He and his wife are former foster parents and have two children.
Michael Massengale is a private arbitrator and legal consultant, working in Houston, Texas. For over nine years he served as an appellate judge on the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas, authoring over 600 signed opinions. He is also a former trial partner of Baker Botts LLP, where he specialized in commercial litigation involving corporate mergers and acquisitions, fraudulent transfers, securities fraud, and antitrust. He has also tried a number of personal injury and property damage lawsuits to jury verdicts. Justice Massengale serves by appointment on the Texas Access to Justice Commission and as a senior judicial advisor to the Supreme Court of Texas Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth & Families.