Maricarmen Garza is the group coordinator for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid’s (“TRLA”) Victim Rights Group and the director of the Legal Alliance for Survivors of Abuse (LASA) project. Started in 1999, the LASA Project is a unique collaboration between TRLA and 60+ domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault across 182 counties of Texas. Through the LASA Project partnership, TRLA ensures that at their initial point of contact with a domestic violence shelter or a rape crisis center, victims receive the legal assistance that is critical to breaking the cycle of violence. As project director, Maricarmen is responsible for managing the day-to-day activities and progress of project and partner staff. As group coordinator for the Victim Rights Group, Maricarmen oversees two of TRLA’s newest teams the Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault team and the Survivor Centered Economic Advocacy team, providing direction, mentorship and supervision.
Maricarmen started her legal career as a staff attorney for Catholic Charities in Houston, representing clients in removal proceedings, VAWA self-petitions, and political asylum cases. As a TRLA attorney Maricarmen, focuses her practice on assisting survivors of family violence and sexual assault in contested child custody cases, divorces, protective orders, CPS cases, and privacy issues.
Maricarmen serves on the Public Policy Committee for the Texas Council on Family Violence (2003-2015, 2018), and on the board of the Texas Victim Services Association. Maricarmen organizes TRLA’s annual Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault conference and several seminars throughout the year and often presents on the topics of domestic violence, sexual assault, confidentiality and privacy, and civil legal options for victims. Additionally, Maricarmen conducts bi–monthly legal option clinics for clients of the Houston Area Women’s Center, trains HAWC’s new staff and volunteers regarding civil legal remedies available to victims, and provides referrals to local legal services providers.
Maricarmen received a Bachelor of Arts in Child Psychology from the University of the Incarnate Word in 1992. She received her J.D. from St. Mary’s University school of Law in 1996.