Voice of the Conservative Vote: Judge Steve Hilbig
by TexasGOPVote on October 8, 2012 at 3:02 PM
Steve Hilbig was born in 1952 in San Antonio. He is the fourth of six children (all boys) born to Edward and Marie Hilbig. Steve’s father was a plumber that worked as a plumbing sub-contractor in the South Texas area. Ed Hilbig later closed his business and worked as a plumbing inspector for the City of San Antonio. Mr. Hilbig was stricken by Alzheimers and retired from the City of San Antonio in 1986. He died in 1993.
Steve’s mother alternated between raising children and working for Southwestern Bell and Edward’s various businesses. For a while, Marie’s father, Ed A. Jaeckle Sr., who was also a plumber, operated a plumbing business with Ed Hilbig known as Jaeckle & Hilbig. Marie eventually retired from Southwestern Bell in 1991 to care for her husband as the Alzheimers disease took its toll on him. She later moved to Independence Hill, a senior living center, until her death in 2006.
Steve’s family lived on the East side of San Antonio. As a youth, Steve and his brothers helped in their father’s business. Their duties would include everything from digging ditches to installation of sewer and water piping systems. Steve was also active in CYO sports including baseball, basketball and football.
Steve met his wife Sylvia Hutzler while they were students at San Antonio College. Sylvia is the daughter of Harold and Margaret (Fischer) Hutzler. Sylvia’s family traces her roots to the early settlers of the Castroville area. Her relatives include members of the Hutzler, Fischer, Zinsmeyer, Jagge, Tschirhart and Bendele families. Steve and Sylvia married in 1975.
Steve Hilbig attended Saint Gerard’s grade school and high school. He graduated as Valedictorian from the high school in 1970. Steve attended San Antonio College from 1970 through 1972 and received an Associate in Arts degree. While at SAC, Steve worked in the Reading Department where he established a tutoring program that matched students needing help in various subjects with other student tutors. During the summer months, Steve worked in the Counseling Department as a Peer Counselor. Steve’s duties included meeting with first-time students to provide assistance in the transition from high school to college.
Steve transferred to University of Texas at Austin in the fall of 1972. He continued to work as a Student Counselor in the College of Comparative Studies helping incoming students. Steve received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in American Studies in January 1974.
Steve entered The University of Texas Law School in May 1974. He enrolled in a program that would allow him to complete his law school education in two years rather than the usual three years it takes to obtain a law degree. While in law school, Steve worked performing legal research for Professor Robert O. Dawson. Steve received a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in July 1976.
Steve became a lawyer on November 1, 1976. After working as a sole practitioner for several months, Steve was hired by Bexar County Criminal District Attorney Bill White on April 4, 1977. As with all young prosecutors, Steve served in various sections of the District Attorney’s office until he was promoted to the Felony Section. As a felony attorney, Steve prosecuted defendants charged with the most serious crimes including capital murder, murder, rape, aggravated robbery and aggravated assaults. Steve conducted numerous jury trials and helped prosecute two defendants charged with capital murder. Both defendants were given a death sentence by the jury and have been executed.
In October 1981 Steve became an Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas. As a federal prosecutor, Steve was initially assigned to the general criminal section where he helped investigate and prosecute persons that violated federal laws relating to drugs, counterfeiting, financial fraud, and immigration. He was later appointed to the Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force. As an OCDETF prosecutor, Steve helped investigate and prosecute major drug organizations in Texas. After serving as a task force prosecutor, Steve was later assigned as a general drug prosecutor where he convicted several medical professionals for illegally dispensing drugs.
Steve left the United States Attorney’s office in November 1984 to begin his private practice. He concentrated his efforts on the representation of clients in criminal matters in state and federal courts. He also represented small businesses in some commercial cases, and clients in family law, wills, and probate cases. In 1986 Steve obtained his certification in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Because of his background and expertise, Steve often was appointed to represent indigent defendants in high-profile cases including several capital murder cases.
In 1989 Steve decided to run for the office of Bexar County Criminal District Attorney. He overcame an opponent in the Republican primary and defeated the Democratic incumbent in the November 1990 general election. In doing so, Steve became the first Republican elected as Bexar County’s Criminal District Attorney. As District Attorney, Steve represented the State of Texas in the prosecution of criminal cases and Bexar County in civil matters. His duties included acting as attorney for all county officials, overseeing the prosecution of a full range of criminal cases, and providing advice and direction to staff attorneys regarding a variety of civil matters and litigation. His staff consisted of 139 lawyers and over 320 employees, and the office handled more than 220,000 matters each year. Steve was re-elected in 1994 but decided not to seek a third term as District Attorney in 1998.
During a chance meeting in 1999, former FBI director and former United States District Judge William S. Sessions offered Steve an opportunity to work with the law firm of Sessions & Sessions, L.L.P. Working with Judge Sessions and his son Lew Sessions, Steve began a civil litigation practice representing businesses and individuals in a wide range of matters, from contract disputes, securities law, and general business disputes. He also continued to represent individuals and business under criminal investigation in state and federal courts. Sessions & Sessions later merged with the firm of Holland & Knight, L.L.P., which was at that time the fifth-largest law firm in the United States. Steve became a senior counsel with the new firm and continued his civil and criminal law practice. In 2002 Steve decided to start his own practice once again and left Holland & Knight. He continued representing businesses and individuals in civil and criminal cases in state and federal courts until he was elected to the Fourth Court of Appeals in 2006.
Steve has served as a Justice on the Fourth Court of Appeals since 2007. He has written opinions in virtually every area of the law while on the court. Of the seven justices on the court, Steve remains the only justice certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He also received his certification in Criminal Appellate Law by the same organization in 2011. A legal commentator for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, writing about one of Justice Hilbig's opinions, stated his opinions "always seem to reflect a real understanding of the practicalities of trying a criminal case."