Judge Robert Eckels' legal practice at Gray Reed & McGraw is built on a decades-long career in public service and leadership of the nation's third largest county. Robert is recognized as a national leader in issues of transportation, public finance/public private partnerships, homeland security, the environment and health care.
He was the founding chairman of the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation, a coalition of local governments, educational institutions and the private sector working to bring high-speed rail to Texas. Robert left that organization in December of 2010 to accept a position as President of Texas Central Railway, LLC, (www.texascentral.com) a private enterprise seeking to build a high-speed rail system linking Houston with Dallas/Fort Worth.
As County Judge of Harris County, Robert partnered with TxDoT and local jurisdictions to build the Houston Transtar Transportation and Emergency Operations Center, a global model of interagency partnerships for transportation operations and sustained training and planning for homeland security and disaster mitigation, response and recovery.
Judge Eckels received international recognition when Harris County responded to Hurricane Katrina and the floods, wind and storm surge that led to massive destruction and loss of life in New Orleans and the US Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Alabama. The Harris County Astrodome and Reliant Park became the largest shelter operation in US history as over 250,000 residents of storm ravaged areas fled to the Houston region.
Judge Eckels was first elected as a state representative in his 20's, served six terms before being elected county judge - a role with executive, legislative and judicial functions for Harris County, which is home to nearly 4 million residents. He is a graduate of the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law Houston. Robert and his wife “Jet” make their home in Houston. His daughter, Kirby, is a student at Barnard College at Columbia University.