John J. Specia, Jr.
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Commissioner John J. Specia, Jr. is a distinguished jurist and attorney with broad experience in civil law and special expertise in family law, foster care, and Child Protective Services cases. He became DFPS Commissioner on December 1, 2012.
Specia's career has been dedicated to public service for more than three decades and is defined by his commitment to children and preventing child abuse. He was a founding member and jurist in residence for the Texas Supreme Court Children’s Commission. Specia established the Bexar County Children’s Court, which provides specialized services for children as well as the Family Drug Treatment Court, which became a model for the state. He was vice-chair of the Supreme Court’s Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth, and Families and chair of the Supreme Court Task Force on Foster Care.
Commissioner Specia served as District Judge of the 225th District Court in San Antonio for 18 years (1988-2006) and was the administrative judge for Bexar County district courts for four of those years. He also served as Master of the 289th Family and Juvenile District Court (1985-1988). Commissioner Specia was one of the state's first child welfare attorneys, serving as a regional attorney for the former Texas Department of Human Services (1980-1985), and he was a family law attorney in private practice before becoming a district judge.
After retiring from the bench in 2006, Specia served as partner in the law firm of Plunkett & Gibson, where he practiced mediation, arbitration, private judging and served as a visiting judge. Specia has been an adjunct professor at St. Mary’s School of Law since 1995, teaching trial advocacy, advanced trial advocacy, and international arbitration.
Specia was honored with the 2012 Infant Mental Health Advocacy Award and received the 2011 Lone Star Award for his work in substance abuse prevention and treatment. He was a recipient of the Dale Wood Award for outstanding protection of children by the judiciary and was named “Judge of the Year” by Texas CASA.
Specia holds a bachelor of arts in political science from the University of a Texas and a doctor of jurisprudence from St. Mary's University of Law.