Elsa Alcala

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Elsa R. Alcala
Place 8 Judge of the
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
Assumed office
May 2011
Preceded byCharles Holcomb
Personal details
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Dan Jeffry Spjut
ResidenceHouston, Texas
Alma materTexas A&M University–Kingsville
University of Texas School of Law

Elsa R. Alcala, also known as Elsa Spjut (born 1964), has been since May 2011 one of the nine judges of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the court of last resort for state criminal appeals. A Republican, she was appointed to the Place 8 on the bench by then Governor Rick Perry, when Charles Holcomb stepped down to run unsuccessfully in 2012 for the United States Senate.


Judge Alcala obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from Texas A&M University in Kingsville, Texas. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, where she was named to the Order of Barristers.[1]

Alcala is married to Dan Jeffry Spjut (born 1961), an attorney and retired lieutenant of the Houston Police Department.[1] He was elected on November 4, 2014, as a Republican to a Harris County Criminal Court at Law judgeship.[2] Alcala has three children and has long been active in school and civic functions. The couple lives in Houston.[1]

Legal career[edit]

Prior to becoming a judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals, Alcala was for nine years a justice of the First Court of Appeals, an intermediate appellate court with jurisdiction over both criminal and civil cases. As Court of Appeals judge, Alcala signed more than 650 majority opinions and presided in some 3,000 cases. An original Perry nominee to the Court of Appeals, she was thereafter twice elected by voters in ten counties within the jurisdiction. Alcala is also a former 338th District Court judge with three years of service, initially under appointment of Governor George W. Bush but then elected without opposition in 2000 in Harris County.[1]

Before she became a judge, Alcala spent nine years as an assistant district attorney under DA Johnny Holmes in Harris County. She was the lead trial attorney in more than seventy felony jury trials, with focus on violent offenders and distributors of narcotics.[1]

Alcala was unopposed for the Republican nomination to the Court of Criminal Appeals for Place 8 in 2012 and faced no Democrat in the November 6 general election, when she polled 78.1 percent of the vote over William Bryan Strange III, the Libertarian Party candidate.[3]

On December 29,2016 ,Alcala announced she would not seek re-election after her term ends Dec.31.2018.[4]

Starting Jan 2 2019 ,Alcara will work as policy director at Texas Defender Service for 5 months during the 2019 legislative session.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Judge Elsa Alcala". txcourts.gov. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  2. ^ "Harris County election returns, November 4, 2014". harrisvotes.com. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  3. ^ "General election returns, November 6, 2012". Texas Secretary of State. Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  4. ^ "Judge Alcala Won't Seek Re-Election,January 6,2017". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  5. ^ "Twitter @TexasElsa". Retrieved January 2, 2019.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Charles Holcomb
Place 8 Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Elsa R. Alcala

Succeeded by