PEÑA, GILBERT J. (1933 ~ ). Gilbert J. Peña, Assistant Attorney General, was born December 24, 1933, in Laredo, Texas. He graduated from St. Joseph's Academy high school and graduated from St. Mary's University. After graduation, he served two years in the United States Army and spent most of his time in Baumholder, Germany.
After being discharge from the Army, Peña entered South Texas College of Law and was awarded a J.D. degree in 1959. He began the practice of law as an assistant district attorney for the 49th Judicial District of Texas, which comprised Webb, Zapata, Jim Hogg, and Dimmit Counties. He later had his own firm in Laredo, Goldberg & Peña. He is able to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and all the federal district courts of Texas.
In 1963, Peña was appointed Assistant Attorney General and served under the administrations of Waggoner Carr, Crawford Martin, John Hill, Mark White and Jim Mattox, where he assigned to the Law Enforcement Division. While with the Attorney General's Office, Peña also served as the extradition officer for the State of Texas. He served in that capacity in the administrations of Governors Connally, Smith, Briscoe, Clements, both terms, White, and Richards. Following Mark White's election as Governor, Peña was named Chief of the Criminal Justice Division in the Governor's Office. He held that position from 1983 to 1987. From 1987 to 1993, he was Extradition Counsel and Assistant General Counsel to the Governors Clements and Richards.
With the inception of extradition programs, Peña was the administrator for transfers of prisoners, pursuant to international treaties, to their nations of origin to serve their Texas sentences there. From 1983 to 1993, he was a liaison between Mexican consular authorities and the State of Texas in dealing with matters of mutual concern to Texas and Mexico.
Peña was a founding member and national president of the National Association of Extradition Officials. He is a frequent lecturer on interstate and international extradition at prosecutor, sheriff, and police officer training schools. He is also the author of treaties and practical desk book on the extradition process.
On August 18, 1961, Peña married the former Margaret MacLean of Boston and had two sons, Gilbert Austin and Mark Gregory.
Information provided by Gilbert and Margaret Peña and supplemented with Texas State Cemetery file materials.