News Archives

This page includes selected news stories from past years.

Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement Will Keynote 2016 Hemphill Dinner
The Honorable Paul D. Clement, former Solicitor General of the United States, will was the principal speaker at the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society’s 21st Annual John Hemphill Dinner on September 9. The dinner, which is the Society’s main fundraising event, is scheduled for Friday, September 9, 2016, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin.
Mr. Clement, who is now a partner at Bancroft PLLC in Washington, D.C., served as the 43rd Solicitor General of the United States from June 2005 until June 2008. Before his confirmation as Solicitor General, he served as Acting Solicitor General for nearly a year and as Principal Deputy Solicitor General for over three years.
A native of Cedarburg, Wisconsin, Mr. Clement received his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, and a master’s degree in economics from Cambridge University. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was the Supreme Court editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Following graduation, Mr. Clement clerked for Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and for Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court. After his clerkships, Mr. Clement went on to serve as Chief Counsel of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Federalism and Property Rights.
Dinner information and a registration form are available here.

2017 Winter Issue of the Society’s E-Journal Now Available

Winter Issue of the Society’s E-Journal Now Available

The theme of this issue is Texas family law. Among contributors are Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, Justice Debra Lehrmann, family law attorney Richard Orsinger, and many legal historians.

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CLE History Symposium Scheduled for April 27

CLE History Symposium Scheduled for April 27

Register now for this Society-cosponsored event!

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2018 Winter Issue of the Society’s E-Journal Now Available
Winter Issue of the Society’s E-Journal Now Available
This issue looks at the brief law career of John Wesley Hardin, the seven-man battle for a federal court appointment in Texas during Reconstruction, the history of the First and Fourteenth Courts of Appeals, and other colorful legal history topics.

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The Hon. Carl E. Stewart, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, will be the featured speaker at the 23rd Annual John Hemphill Dinner on September 7, 2018.

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The Society is joining with the Texas Supreme Court to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and to celebrate the 12 Texas high-court judges and governors who served in the war.

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This issue’s theme is “Petition and Remonstrance,” led by a history of the Petition Clause by Chad Baruch and the story of the first African American judge in Texas by John Browning and Chief Justice Carolyn Wright.

Spring Issue of the Society’s E-Journal Now Available

This photo-rich issue features articles on the genesis of the 1827 Constitution of Coahuila and Texas by Judge Manuel G. Oropeza and on the six Texas constitutions between 1836 and 1876 by William J. Chriss.

New Larry McNeill Research Fellowship Announced
New Larry McNeill Research Fellowship Announced
The Society has joined with the Texas State Historical Association to create a $2,500 research fellowship award in honor of an esteemed former president of both the Society and TSHA.

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch Will Speak at Hemphill Dinner

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch Will Speak at Hemphill Dinner

The Hon. Neil M. Gorsuch will be the keynote speaker at the Society’s 24th Annual John Hemphill Dinner on September 6. Program details and ticket information is available here.

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Texas Supreme Court BA Breakfast Scheduled for September 7

Texas Supreme Court BA Breakfast Scheduled for September 7

This year’s breakfast for current and former Supreme Court briefing attorneys, justices, and staff will be held on September 7 in the Texas Law Center in Austin. To attend, RSVP by August 28.

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2019 Appellate Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

Four chief justices were honored posthumously as the 2019 inductees to the Texas Appellate Hall of Fame: Thomas J. Rusk, Hortense Sparks Ward, John L. Hill, Jr., and Austin McCloud.

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Summer 2019 Issue of the TSCHS Journal Now Available

This issue examines the Republic-era roots of the Texas Supreme Court Library and State Law Library and announces new digital holdings of the State Bar and Supreme Court Archives.

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This issue includes compelling legal history topics ranging from the previously unpublished poetry of Justice James Hall Bell to the truth behind Bonnie and Clyde's Easter Day murders.

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This issue’s lead articles examine the history of judicial recusal and disqualification in Texas and New England’s influence on early Texas law, especially through the Mayflower Compact.

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The Society-sponsored Taming Texas judicial civics project is underway in Houston and Dallas middle schools.


The first recipient of the $2,500 Society-sponsored research fellowship will be announced Feb. 28 at the Texas State Historical Association's Annual Meeting in Austin. More details will be announced soon!

Taming Texas Series Adds Third Volume

Taming Texas Series Adds Third Volume
The Society’s new Taming Texas book, The Chief Justices of Texas, tells the stories of the 27 Chief Justices who have served on the Supreme Court from 1836 to the present.

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Summer 2020 Issue

This issue is entitled "Courting Trouble: Hard Cases, Historic Consequences" and examines the difficult and historic decisions made by the courts during troubled times.

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The Hon. Priscilla R. Owen will be the keynote speaker at the Society’s 25th Annual John Hemphill Dinner on September 11. Program details and ticket information is available here.

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Fall 2020 Issue

This issue is titled "Traveling a Rough Road: Civil Rights History in Texas" and examines the people and cases that helped move our state towards equality.

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An Evening With The Texas Supreme Court


The Justices will deliver brief remarks about the Supreme Court, then answer questions submitted by members of the Appellate Section and the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society. This free event is approved for 1 hour of MCLE credit (including 1 hour of Ethics).

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Justice Paul W. Green

Justice Paul W. Green
More Than a Quarter Century of Service

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Winter 2021 Issue

This winter the Journal presents the first of two issues casting a spotlight on trailblazing Latinx judges and lawyers in our state. We also explore some of the complex legal history of Latinx rights in Texas.

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The 26th Annual John Hemphill Dinner
THE HEMPHILL DINNER IS SOLD OUT!! Please contact Mary Sue Miller at to be placed on a wait list.
The 26th Annual John Hemphill Dinner will be held live on Friday, December 3, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. with certain precautions and restrictions in place, including limiting the number of attendees.
The keynote speaker this year is Ms. Lisa Blatt, “SCOTUS Legend” and veteran U.S. Supreme Court practitioner. Lisa Blatt serves as Chair of Williams & Connolly’s Supreme Court and Appellate practice. Ms. Blatt, who clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, will talk about Justice Ginsberg’s life and contributions.
We anticipate this event will sell out so reserve your spot now.

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Spring 2021 Issue
This spring the Journal presents the second of our two part series casting a spotlight on trailblazing Latino and Latina judges and lawyers in our state. We also explore some of the complex legal history of Latino and Latina rights in Texas.

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2021 Appellate Hall of Fame Call for Nominations

Nominations Welcomed for the Texas Appellate Hall of Fame
The Appellate Section of the State Bar of Texas is now accepting nominations for the Texas Appellate Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame posthumously honors advocates and judges who made a lasting mark on appellate practice in the State of Texas.

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Summer 2021 Issue
This issue exemplifies the power of historical research to elucidate facts and shine a spotlight on the past in order to illuminate our present. Our two lead articles had their start as presentations at the joint TSCHS panel at this year's TSHA Conference.

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Fall Issue of the Society’s E-Journal Now Available

This issue explores various significant legal cases and important individuals from the Native American community in Texas and beyond.

Winter Issue of the Society’s E-Journal Now Available

This issue looks at the constant and complicated journey our state has taken from “Rough Justice” towards an agreed upon rule of law.

Spring 2022 Issue of the Society’s E-Journal Now Available

This month our Journal is pleased to help celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month by focusing on trailblazing figures and formative events in Asian American legal history in Texas.

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Summer 2022 Issue of the Society’s E-Journal Now Available

This issue focuses on the stories of influential women in Texas legal history. This is the first of a two issue series looking at the ways women have both shaped and been defined by the legal system in our state.

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Fall 2018 Issue of the Society’s E-Journal Now Available

This special Great War issue is filled with stories and photos of those who served in World War I and went on to serve in high-level judicial and executive positions in Texas government. It also features the contributions of women and African Americans in the Great War.

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The Texas Supreme Court formally accepted the portraits of Reconstruction-era judges Wesley Ogden and Colbert Coldwell in a ceremony held in the Supreme Court Courtroom. The event is available for viewing on the Society’s Hemphill Channel at

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This issue honors the contributions of African American judges in Texas. Among those featured are Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Morris Overstreet, Fifth District Court Chief Justice Carolyn Wright, and U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Hoyt.

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Spring Issue of the Society’s E-Journal Now Available

The theme of this issue is First Amendment rights in Texas. Top first amendment attorneys examine free speech and prior restraint, arcane alcohol advertising laws, the role of juries in libel litigation, and other topics.

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2017 Fall Issue of the Society’s E-Journal Now Available

The lead articles in this issue focus on the evolution of Texas water law. Other features look at the history of the State of the Judiciary Address, the research value of the Bexar District Court Minutes 1838-1848, and TSCHS-sponsored events.

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7th Circuit Chief Judge Diane Wood Keynoted 2017 Hemphill Dinner

7th Circuit Chief Judge Diane Wood Keynoted 2017 Hemphill Dinner
The Honorable Diane P. Wood, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, gave the keynote address at this year’s John Hemphill Dinner on Friday, September 8 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin. Full story and photos will be posted soon.

Society Will Sponsor Early Texas Law Session at TSHA's Annual Meeting
On March 8, the Society will present a session called “Laying Down Texas Law: From Austin’s Colony through the Lone Star Republic” at the Annual Meeting of the Texas State Historical Association in San Marcos. For program and registration details, see <a style="color:#fff;text-decoration:underline;" target="_blank" href=""></a>.

Calling All Volunteers—Help Us Take Taming Texas into Schools Again This Spring

Calling All Volunteers—Help Us Take Taming Texas into Schools Again This Spring
The Society is working with the Houston Bar Association’s Teach Texas Committee to take the Taming Texas judicial civics program into seventh-grade classrooms this spring. For information, see and

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Taming Texas Classroom Program Seeks Volunteers
Taming Texas Classroom Program Has Another Successful Run
The Society’s Taming Texas program reached more than 5,000 7th-grade Texas history students in the Houston area this spring. For information see the Houston Bar Association site at

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2018 Issue of the Society’s E-Journal Now Available
This issue’s theme is “Texas Law and Courts in the Victorian Age,” focusing on the Texas legal system from Stephen F. Austin’s Colony through the 19th century. Lead authors include Justice Jason Boatright, Dylan Drummond, Stephen Pate, and James Paulsen.

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Reenactment of Oral Argument before the All-Woman Texas Supreme Court
Johnson v. Darr

The All-Woman Court of 1925
Photo courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Under the direction of the Society’s Fellows and the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society Journal, the Society will present a reenactment of one of the Texas Supreme Court’s most famous cases: Johnson v. Darr, 114 Tex. 516, 272 S.W. 1098 (1925), decided by the “All- Woman Texas Supreme Court.” The reenactment will take place from 10 to 11 a.m. in first floor Conference Room 121A/B at the Fort Worth Convention Center, 1201 Houston St., Fort Worth, Texas, on Thursday, June 16 at the State Bar Annual Meeting.
The principal legal issue the All-Woman Court addressed was whether the trustees of an insurance company, the Woodmen of the World, were entitled to the ownership of two tracts of land in El Paso. In 1922, the Forty-First Judicial District Court of El Paso County granted the trustees clear title to only one of the two tracts, and the Woodmen appealed to the Court of Civil Appeals. Another appeal brought the case to the then three-member Texas Supreme Court in 1924. The case presented a problem to the all-male Supreme Court. The insurer, Woodmen of the World, was a fraternal organization and mutual insurance company whose membership included many prominent and politically powerful men of the time. That large group of men included all three Justices of the Texas Supreme Court.

After the court’s three Justices recused themselves, Governor Pat Neff, an early proponent of women’s rights, decided to appoint three women to take their place. But Governor Neff’s staff failed to do their homework before he made his appointments. The staff did not ask two of Governor Neff’s first three appointees—Nellie Robertson of Granbury and Edith Wilmans of Dallas—whether they had the seven years of legal experience required by the Texas Constitution to serve on the special panel of the court. And they did not check to see if the appointees’ spouses were insured by the Woodmen. Yet Governor Neff made a good choice with Hortense Sparks Ward of Houston, the first woman admitted to the State Bar of Texas.
In 1925, fewer than ten women had the constitutionally-required seven years of experience necessary to serve on the Texas Supreme Court at the time of Governor Neff’s appointments. After Ms. Robertson and Ms. Wilmans withdrew their names because of their constitutional inabilities, Governor Neff made substitute appointments to serve as associate justices: Ruth V. Brazzil of Galveston and Hattie L. Henenberg of Dallas. Houstonian Hortense Ward became Chief Justice and her new colleagues served as the special court’s associate justices.
Long before the All-Woman Court convened, Chief Justice Ward led the successful movement to enact Texas’s first Married Woman’s Property Rights Act and spearheaded the suffrage movement in Texas. Associate Justice Henenberg was the first Jewish member of the Texas Supreme Court. Associate Justice Brazzil played a prominent role in leading South Texas women into social reform movements. Since the women of the All-Woman Court came from different parts of Texas, this is an ideal program for a State Bar Annual Meeting.
The Society’s e-journal has published several articles about the All-Woman Court, including one written and illustrated by Chief Justice Hortense Sparks Ward’s great-granddaughter, Linda Hunsaker. Ms. Hunsaker authored the most recent article and provided previously unpublished photographs, correspondence, and Ward family records in her article “Family Remembrances and the Legacy of Chief Justice Hortense Sparks Ward,” 4(4) Texas Supreme Court Historical Society Journal (Summer 2015): 51–64,

David Furlow has photographed the Johnson v. Darr file at the Texas State Library and Archive in Austin and has obtained photographic copies of original pleadings filed by Chief Justice Hortense Sparks Ward in Harris County. Journal staff photographed Chief Justice Ward’s gavel and silver suffragette cup when Linda Hunsaker and her family attended the Society’s and the Texas Supreme Court’s 2013 ceremony marking the publication The Texas Supreme Court: A Narrative History, 1836-1986.
Chief Justice Hortense Sparks Ward’s silver suffragette cup and
the gavel she used during oral argument in the All-Woman Court.
Photo by David A. Furlow

As a result of the Society’s and the Journal’s unique access to previously unpublished archival documents, original photographs, and family records, the Fellows can offer the justices, judges, and attorneys who attend the 2016 State Bar Annual Meeting a uniquely scholarly and historical CLE program. The written materials will include copies of original pleadings, motions, and correspondence among the Texas Supreme Court Clerk’s Office and the justices and parties relating to the January 30, 1925 oral argument in the case.

Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht will portray 1925 Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Calvin Cureton. Fifth Circuit Judge Jennifer Elrod will appear as Special Chief Justice Hortense Sparks Ward. Texas Supreme Court Justices Eva Guzman and Debra Lehrmann will play Special Associate Justices Ruth V. Brazzil and Hattie L. Henenberg.

Additional information can be obtained on the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting website or through an email to
The May 2016 issue of the Texas Bar Journal includes an article on the reenactment by TSCHS Journal editors Lynne Liberato and David A. Furlow. See

Special Event: “What Wings They Were: The Case of Emeline”

In May, the Houston Grand Opera will premiere a new opera to tell the story of Houston’s first known pro bono case: the 1847 representation by Baker Botts founder Peter Gray of a wrongly enslaved woman named Emeline. The opera is a collaboration between HGO, the Houston Bar Association, Communities in Schools, and Baker Botts LLP.

Performances on May 3 and May 4 will be held at the 1910 Courthouse and will carry CLE credit. More information


Texas History Podcasts Offer Great Way to Learn about Texas’s Past

   Justice Ken Wise
Although podcasting as a medium may seem almost heretical to some historical purists, Texas legal historians now have two great resources to learn more about Texas’s rich history and legal lineage.
Wise About Texas
One of our own Trustees, Justice Ken Wise of the Fourteenth Court of Appeals, is the host, producer, and writer of the most authoritative Texas legal history podcast available. He debuted his podcast, Wise About Texas, in November 2015 and has already published nine episodes. The topics range from secret, turn-of-the-century boxing matches on sandbars in the Rio Grande to the first capitals of Texas.
One of the Judge’s most fascinating episodes (and one that he will later explore at more length in the Society's journal) examines the first judges of Texas. The comprehensive detail with which he presents the fascinating explorations of Texas legal history come as little surprise to practitioners familiar with his legal opinions. As a result, Wise About Texas is a must-listen podcast for any Texas history enthusiast.
You can listen to Wise About Texas on its homepage at or by subscribing to it on iTunes. You can also follow Wise About Texas on Twitter (@WiseAboutTexas), Facebook, Google, and Pinterest.

Come and Take It
Another fantastic Texas history podcast is one that has been churning out entertaining and informative episodes since September 2013. Come and Take It is a self-described “talk show about Texas by Texans.” The Texans who write, produce, and host the podcast are lifelong friends and amateur historians, all born and raised in Texas—Mike Zolkoski, Scott Elfstrom, and Sean McIver. Each shares their views on Texas’s history, culture, and “just what it means to be Texan.”
Those episodes now number north of one hundred, and wonderfully range in scope from chronicling Texas’s most famous sons (Sam Houston, William Travis, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, Deaf Smith, Audie Murphy, and many more) to examining the more modern origin of such cultural icons as Dazed and Confused, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Willie Nelson, Dr. Pepper, and Whataburger. Of particular interest to our readership is their excellent episode on the first and ill-fated Chief Justice of the Republic of Texas—James Collinsworth.
You can listen to Come and Take It on iTunes or on its homepage at Follow it as well on Twitter (@texaspodcast).
Together these two outstanding Texas history podcasts offer easily accessible and digestible yet highly informative avenues by which Texans can learn more about their storied and shared history.

Dylan O. Drummond

Volume 2 in the Society’s Taming Texas series for seventh graders looks at how laws shaped and were shaped by life on the frontier. The book is available in hard copy and e-versions.

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Spring Issue of Society’s E-Journal Now Available

This issue of the e-journal focuses on the history of court administration and procedure in Texas. It also includes a variety of special features and announcements related to the Society and the Texas Supreme Court.

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Fall Issue of Society’s E-Journal Now Available

This issue focuses on the history of Texas elections, examining the legality of Governor “Pa” Ferguson’s impeachment, the impact of the Cotham V. Garza voter information case, and the 1940s Supreme Court election battle between Justice Critz and Colonel Simpson.

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In Memoriam: Justice Ted Z. Robertson, 1921-2017
In Memoriam: Justice Ted Z. Robertson, 1921-2017
The Society is sad to announce the passing of the Honorable Texas Supreme Court Justice Ted Z. Robertson on October 13, 2017. See the Supreme Court advisory for information about his life and legacy.

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Joint Session at the TSHA Annual Meeting

On March 2, 2017, the Society will present a panel titled “Semicolons, Murder, and Counterfeit Wills: Texas History through the Law’s Lens” at the TSHA Annual Meeting in Houston. Presenters are Judge Mark Davidson and attorney Bill Kroger, with commentary by former Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson. For more information, see .

Texas Female Judges Day

On April 13, 2015, the Texas Capitol hosted some 150 women judges for Texas Female Judges' Day.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and Justice Debra Lehrmann joinedChief Justice Nathan Hecht in commemorating the event. Pictures of the judges in attendance were taken in the old Texas Supreme Court courtroom in the Capitol.

Senators Royce West and Joan Huffman authored Senate Resolution No. 535, which established the occasion and traced its roots back to the 1925 all-womanTexas Supreme Court comprised of Justices Hortense Sparks Ward, Hattie Leah Henenberg, and Ruth Virginia Brazzil.

Out of 3,151 judges currently serving in Texas, fully a third (1,064) are women.

84th Tex. Sen. Res. 535

OCA Press Release

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Society’s March 6 TSHA Joint Session Will Explore the History of Texas School Prayer Litigation
THE TEXAS SUPREME COURT HISTORICAL SOCIETY and the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) will host a joint session at the Texas State Historical Association’s 119th Annual Meeting on Friday, March 6 in Corpus Christi. The session, titled The King James Bible, the Courts, and the Preservation of Records: A Historical Tie-in with a Twist, will explore how historic judicial records preserved in the Lorenzo de Zavala State Library and Archives can shed light on the origin, course, and outcome of cases that profoundly transform Texans’ constitutional rights.
Session Chair and Society President Marie R. Yeates, a Vinson & Elkins, LLP partner and the Practice Group Leader of the firm’s Appellate Practice Section, will introduce the program and speakers shortly after 10:30 a.m. According to Chambers USA 2009, Marie “is noted for her impressive advocacy and rapid grasp of the most complex issues.”
The first speaker will be Laura K. Saegert, Assistant Director for Archives at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. She is a member of the Texas Supreme Court’s Texas Court Records Preservation Task Force. Laura and Texas State Archivist Jelain Chubb have jointly coauthored a PowerPoint presentation detailing the physical steps that an archivist undertakes to conserve historic judicial records, including removal of such early fasteners as metal fasteners, ribbons, strings, and other devices employed to hold the pages together; screening of water-soluble inks and other potential problems; humidification of records to enable preservation; storage in acid-free files; and, in some instances, digitization.
Laura will also describe the State Archives’ creation of a database detailing information about Texas case files being created to facilitate access to materials through original dockets (by old cause number), with entries accessible by the style of the case, such as Lockhart v. Sawyer. Many of the cases were not reported, making the dockets and the series index (both at the State Archives) the only avenues of access. Fields in the new database include the old cause number, the county the appeal was filed in, lawyers representing the parties, the date the appeal was filed, the presiding judge, the reporting citation, the cause of action or subject, additional parties, and a brief case summary.
David Furlow, the Executive Editor of The Texas Supreme Court Historical Society Journal and a member of the Society’s Board of Trustees, will focus on the way the appellate briefs and record of the Texas Supreme Court’s first school-prayer case, Church v. Bullock, 104 Tex. 1, 109 S. W. 115 (Tex. 1908), affirming 100 S. W. 1025 (Tex. Civ. App.—Dallas 1907) enhance understanding of the issues decided in that case. David has analyzed and litigated First Amendment issues for twenty years.
David will compare and contrast the record and issues raised in Church with the record, issues, and opposite result in Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963), a U.S. Supreme Court case. In Schempp, the Court decided 8–1 in favor of Respondent, Edward Schempp, where Texas-born U.S. Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark’s Majority declared school-sponsored Bible reading in public schools in the United States to be unconstitutional. David will then discuss the impact of Church and Schempp on Texas’s schools, students, religious groups, and politics. David recently interviewed Ellery Schempp about his role as a plaintiff.
The session will end when commentator William J. (“Bill”) Chriss, J.D., Ph.D., Gravely & Pearson, LLP, summarizes the presentations and places them in context. Bill holds graduate degrees in law, theology, and history and politics. He was one of the youngest members of his graduating class at Harvard Law School where he received a Howe fellowship in Civil Liberties and Anglo-American Legal History and earned his law degree at the age of twenty-three. Bill has recently completed his Ph.D. in Legal History under the tutelage of University of Texas History Department Professor H. W. “Bill” Brands, Ph.D.
The program, Session 27 on the TSHA schedule, will take place in the Nueces A Conference Room at the Omni Corpus Christi Hotel, at 900 North Shoreline Blvd., Corpus Christi, Texas (78401) from 10:30 AM to noon. See annual-meeting/ at 22.

Members Are Invited to Attend H.W. Brands Talk and Ransom Center Tour on March 27
SOCIETY PRESIDENT MARIE YEATES has made it possible for noted historian H.W. “Bill” Brands to make a special half-hour presentation about American history for Society members beginning at noon on Friday, March 27, followed by a curated tour of the Harry Ransom Center Archive. Brands’s talk will take place at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on the UT campus.
Bill Brands is one of America’s foremost historians. Born in Portland, Oregon, where he lived until he went to college, Brands studied history and mathematics at Stanford University. After graduation, he worked the West from the Pacific to Colorado as a traveling salesman. For nine years he taught mathematics and history in high school and community college. Meanwhile, he resumed his formal education, earning graduate degrees in mathematics and history, including a doctorate in history from the University of Texas at Austin.
In 1987 Brands joined the faculty of Texas A&M University, where he taught for more than seventeen years. He returned to the University of Texas in 2005, and he now holds the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History.
Brands has written twenty-five books, coauthored or edited five others, and published dozens of articles and scores of reviews. The First American and Traitor to His Class were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Prize. Several of his books have been bestsellers. His newest book, a biography of Ronald Reagan, will be available in June of this year.

Reenactment of Johnson v. Darr Marks the Ninetieth Anniversary of the Historic All-Woman Texas Supreme Court
MEMBERS OF THE JUDGE ABNER V. MCCALL AMERICAN INN OF COURT commemorated the ninetieth anniversary of Johnson v. Darr,1 the first case in the United States presided over by an all-woman state supreme court panel, with a reenactment of its oral argument at Baylor Law School on January 12, 2015. Johnson v. Darr involved a property dispute, but it is remembered for the women judges who presided over the case: Chief Justice Hortense Sparks Ward, Associate Justice Ruth V. Brazzil, and Associate Justice Hattie L. Henenberg. 
Justice Jan P. Patterson, who formerly presided over the Third Court of Appeals in Austin and now teaches classes at Baylor Law School, organized the Inn of Court presentation and wrote the script for the Darr reenactment. “We’re particularly eager to reenact this event—ninety years—and in another ten years it will bea century old, and so we wanted to share it with the law school, with the law students, and with the citizens of McLennan County,” Justice Patterson told a reporter for news station KWTX, which broadcast the event.2 Prominent members of the legal community participated as actors. Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman presided over the case in her role as Chief Justice Ward. Justice Patterson and Judge Vicki Menard of the 414th District Court represented Associate Justices Brazzil and Henenberg, respectively. Baylor Law School Dean Brad Toben—who dressed in a black hat and western tie for the reenactment—played Pat Neff, the Texas governor who appointed the members of the panel.
Over a hundred people, including lawyers, judges, and Baylor Law School faculty, staff, and students attended the reenactment. Appellate attorney Greg White, who helped prepare young lawyers for their reenactment roles as attorneys for the plaintiffs in error, said, “A main tenet of the Inn at Court movement is to mentor young lawyers. These programs help promote the ideas of civility and professionalism.”
The Darr presentation also included an introduction to the case, wherein Baylor Law School Professor Pat Wilson played Professor Margaret Amsler, who became the first female law professor in Texas while at Baylor Law School. The program as a whole emphasized the historic participation of women in the Texas legal system and their contributions to the law.

Latest Issue of the Society’s Journal Now Available

The theme of the Winter 2017 issue of the Journal of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society is the history of Texas family law. Dedicated to the legacy of Professor Joseph W. McKnight, the issue includes an introduction by Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht and substantive legal history articles by Justice Debra Lehrmann, Justice Jason Boatright, attorney/historian Richard Orsinger, and historian Elizabeth York Enstam.

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Chief Justice Hecht Delivers His First State of the Judiciary Address
DESPITE HAVING SERVED ON THE TEXAS SUPREME COURT for 26 years and in the Texas judiciary for “over a third of a century,” Chief Justice Nathan Hecht delivered his first State of the Judiciary address on February 18, 2015 to a packed House chamber at the Texas Capitol.
In his address, the Chief called upon the Legislature to help the judicial branch improve how it serves Texans. First, he proposed exploring with the Legislature an interbranch project aimed at improving communication and understanding concerning statutory construction. He also encouraged legislators to decouple truancy violations from the criminal justice system—posing the question, “Playing hooky is bad, but is it criminal?”
He asked that the Legislature continue its support for access-tojustice programs, calling it a “righteous cause.” “Justice for only those who can afford it,” he remarked, “is neither justice for all nor justice at all.” A Navy JAG veteran himself, Chief Justice Hecht requested that the Legislative Branch do more to support veteran’s access to basic civil legal services.
As part of the effort, he held up the success of the more than 20 veterans courts in operation throughout the state. “The rule of the battlefield is to leave no one behind,” he said, but “our military cannot return from risking their lives in defense of our freedoms and values only to find that the justice system they fought for has left them behind.”
The Chief hailed the increased efficiency of the Texas court system, including the efforts of the Office of Court Administration and its Administrative Director, David Slayton, at implementing the state’s new mandatory e-filing requirements in trial and appellate courts serving Texas’s 39 largest counties.
Chief Justice Hecht concluded his remarks by encouraging legislators to consider the recommendations of the Judicial Compensation Commission and reminding them of the admonition of another Texas Chief Justice—Jack Pope—Texas spends more striping its highways than it does on its judicial system!

Justice Debra Lehrmann and the Court Host the Uniform Law Commission
THE UNIFORM LAW COMMISSION was established in 1892, and is charged with providing states with nonpartisan, well-conceived, and well-drafted legislation that makes uniform and brings clarity and stability to critical areas of state statutory law. The government of each state (as well as the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) appoints commissioners to serve on the Commission. Texas has appointed eleven commissioners, including Western District Judge Lee Yeakel and Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann.
At the end of January, the Commission held its Midyear Meeting in Austin, Texas, which included several functions hosted by Justice Lehrmann at the Court. The meeting also coincided with the unveiling of the Commission’s transfer of its voluminous archives to the University of Texas School of Law’s Tarlton Law Library. The archives are rich in content, including the drafts of acts, reports, memos, and other materials that document the development of numerous uniform laws.
To commemorate the occasion, the law school hosted a one-day conference on January 26, 2015, which included intriguing presentations by law-school faculty and several commissioners, including Judge Yeakel and Justice Lehrmann. Video of these discussions may be viewed at the Commission’s website. See Uniform Law Commission, Videos, (last visited Feb. 18, 2015).

Lone Star Legal Aid Establishes Hall of Heroes
LONE STAR LEGAL AID IS THE FOURTH LARGEST FREE LEGAL AID PROVIDER in the U.S., and serves low-income and disabled Texans located in approximately 60,000 square miles of Texas through its twelve branch offices. In 2010, it handled nearly 25,000 legal cases, recovering some $7.7 million in one-time benefits and annualized monthly payments (including Social Security, food stamps, child support, and consumerrelated savings or recoveries) on behalf of roughly 48,000 Texans.
This past December, Lone Star Legal Aid celebrated its sixty-fifth anniversary at its Lex Legacy Luncheon,during which it announced its Hall of Heroes recognizing sixty-five lawyers, judges, and community leaders who have supported legal aid efforts in Texas. Former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justices Wallace B. Jefferson and Thomas R. Phillips served as honorary chairs of the luncheon, and current Court Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht and Justice Eva Guzman presided over the Hall’s unveiling.


Taming Texas
Written specifically for seventh-grade Texas history classes, this new book shows students how the state's court system fits into the larger picture of Texas history: its roots, heroes, growing pains, and milestones, from the days of Stephen F. Austin to the present.
The book's opening stories help students place themselves in an early Texas in which there was no law or order, and challenge them to think about how a society begins to organize itself. Subsequent chapters show how laws were made and tested in the courts over the next 150 years, with an emphasis on the aspects of the Texas experience that are uniquely our own.
In addition to the student copy of the book in e-book format, the teaching unit will include a hard copy for the classroom and a downloadable teacher's guide with exercises that tie the content to TEKS guidelines for social studies.
In conjunction with the unit, judges and attorneys will be available to visit classrooms to answer questions, share stories, and conduct mock court hearings.

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In Memoriam: Joseph D. Jamail, Jr., 1925–2015

The Texas Supreme Court Historical Society lost one of its most enduring friends and supporters with the passing of Joseph D. Jamail, Jr. on December 23.

Mr. Jamail, an eminent Houston trial lawyer and philanthropist, was a charter member of the Society’s Fellows. His support of the Society and its programs also extended to the project that produced the groundbreaking history of the Texas Supreme Court in 2013.

“To have an attorney of Joe Jamail’s prominence give early support to our book project was instrumental in kickstarting the fundraising effort,” said former Society Board President Larry McNeill.

McNeill noted that it was Jamail’s close friend Harry Reasoner of Vinson & Elkins who asked Jamail to contribute.

Harry Reasoner recalled that Jamail didn’t need persuading. He loved history, revered Chief Justice Jack Pope, and believed it was very important that the history of the Supreme Court of Texas be preserved.

A native of Houston, Joe Jamail returned there to practice law after he graduated from the University of Texas Law School in 1953. Founding his own law office—later called Jamail & Kolius—he built his practice representing plaintiffs in personal injury cases. Among them were a number of product liability cases that led to products being removed permanently from the market, including the prescription drug Parlodel.

Mr. Jamail was best known, however, for representing Pennzoil against Texaco in the oil companies’ high-profile legal battle in 1985. The case yielded a verdict of $10.5 billion for Pennzoil, until recently the largest civil judgment in history.

The American Bar Association Journal called Jamail “one of the most successful lawyers in history.” He was proclaimed “King of Torts” by the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune and named “Lawyer of the Century” by Texas Monthly Magazine and the California Trial Lawyers Association.

Joe Jamail’s phenomenal record of success in the courtroom led him to establish, with his wife Lee, a philanthropic foundation that over the years has supported a wide range of programs and organizations. Major among these was his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, which he credited with giving him a chance to prove himself and to become a lawyer.

Jamail’s name is ubiquitous on the UT Austin campus. His ongoing support for the UT Law School led the university to create the Joseph D. Jamail Center for Legal Research in the Tarlton Law Library, the endowed Joseph D. Jamail Centennial Chair in Law and Advocacy, and the Jamail Center for Clinical Education and Justice Under Law. A statue in his honor is located in the Joe Jamail Pavilion in the Law School. 

Joe Jamail (right) speaks with author Jim Haley after the January 2013 
ceremony to present the Society’s new history book to the Texas 
Supreme Court. Mr. Jamail was a major donor to the book project.
His presence is also strong on other parts of the campus. An avid UT sports fan, Jamail made significant contributions to the upgrading of the university’s athletic facilities over the years. In 1997, the university combined the renaming of the Darrell K Royal– Texas Memorial Stadium with the designation of the football field as Joe Jamail Field. Statues of Coach Royal and Jamail overlook the field. The Olympics-quality Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center also honors the Jamails. 

Other educational and cultural institutions also benefited from the Jamails’ generosity. Among them are the Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, Texas Southern University, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Columbia University School of Journalism.

Joe Jamail received numerous honors and awards during his long career. Recent honors include the University of Texas Presidential Citation in 2013, the University of Texas Longhorn Legend Award in 2014, the Texas Lawyer Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014, the Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse (AVDA) Joseph D. Jamail Award for Justice in 2014, an Honorary Doctor of Humanities in Medicine degree from Baylor College of Medicine in 2015, and induction into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame in 2015.

For more information about Joe Jamail’s life and accomplishments, see his website at or his memoir, Lawyer: My Trials and Jubilations ( com/Lawyer-Jubilations-Joe-D-Jamail/dp/1571688099).

Beck Appointed to UT Board of Regents
AS ONE OF HIS FIRST gubernatorial appointments on January 22, 2015, Governor Greg Abbott appointed the Chair of the Society’s Fellows program, David Beck, as a member of the University of Texas System Board of Regents. His appointment was effective February 1, 2015, and is for a term of six years.

David is the founder of and senior partner at Beck Redden, LLP. In addition to his numerous awards throughout his long and distinguished career, David has served as President of the State Bar of Texas and has been recognized by Super Lawyers®, Best Lawyers in America, Benchmark Litigation, Chambers USA, and Lawdragon. He has been appointed twice to the Judicial Conference Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justices William Rehnquist and John Roberts. David graduated from The University of Texas School of Law and received the University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2010.

Supreme Court History Course Expands Subject Matter
THE BIGGEST LEGAL NEWS IN THE COUNTRY in 1987 was the Pennzoil v. Texaco case. Tried in Harris County, Pennzoil’s suit against Texaco for tortious interference resulted in the largest verdict in Texas history ($7.5 billion in compensatory damages and $3 billion in punitive damages). It was one of the early dominos that fell on the path to massive tort reform in Texas. It changed the law of supersedeas bonds and recusal standards, as well as public perception of the courts.
Jacks Nickens, Roger Townsend, Marie Yeates, and Paul Yetter were on both sides of this monumental case. Their panel, moderated by Scott Brister, is one of the unique presentations at this year’s Texas and Supreme Court Jurisprudence Course, scheduled for Thursday, May 7 at Austin’s Radisson Hotel. This presentation represents a refinement to the biannual seminar, which now will extend beyond Supreme Court history to include other aspects of Texas legal history.
Jointly sponsored by the Supreme Court Historical Society and the State Bar of Texas, the course will also stay close to its roots with segments on history directly related to the Supreme Court. A fine storyteller, author James Haley, will draw from his book, The Texas Supreme Court: A Narrative History, 1836-1986, to spin raucous tales of the early days of the court. His luncheon presentation, “Taming Texas: Stories from Texas Judicial History,” also features a free lunch. The seminar will bring back some of the most popular speakers from the first program: Richard Orsinger on the rise of modern contract law; David Furlow on free speech issues; and Dylan Drummond on the toughest bar in Texas—the lawyers who fought and died at the Alamo.
Kicking off the day will be a panel of chief justices moderated by Warren Harris. Current Chief Nathan Hecht, along with Tom Phillips and Wallace Jefferson, will share their challenges and successes while leading the court. Another panel, moderated by Ben Mesches and including Ken Anderson and Luis Saenz, is a natural companion to the other presentations as panelists discuss the judicial appointment process. Show and tell will again be an aspect of the program. The best at it—Judge Mark Davidson and Sarah Duckers—will bring actual documents and pleadings to tell the story of important cases, including that of the slave who fought for and won her freedom. Her story would have been lost to time were it not for Judge Davidson and others’ valiant efforts to rescue our documentary history.
Drawing on their knowledge from reenacting Sweatt v. Painter (the case concerning integration of UT Law School), former Justice Dale Wainwright and David Keltner will provide the backstory of the case. Justice Paul Green, the Supreme Court liaison to the Society, will moderate the afternoon segments. Lynne Liberato will moderate the morning segments. She, Richard Orsinger, and Warren Harris are course co-directors.
Members of the Society and members of the State Bar Appellate Section are entitled to reduced registration fees and Fellows of the Society are entitled to free admission (but must register). The course is a companion course to the Supreme Court Practice Course, which will be held the next day, May 8, 2015. Participants can sign up for the courses either individually or get a price break for signing up for both. (See next page for program agenda.)

Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Greg Abbott Sworn-In as 48th Governor of Texas

Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Greg Abbott Sworn-In as 48th Governor of Texas

Latest Issue of the Society’s Journal Now Available

The Summer 2015 issue of the Society’s e-Journal chronicles the evolution of women’s rights in Texas over five centuries, from the expansion of the 16th-century Spanish Empire into Texas to the present-day status of women both in and before the law in this state.


Texas Supreme Court BA Breakfast
The BA Breakfast was likely started by either Chief Justices John Hickman or Robert Calvert in the 1950s or 1960s. The breakfast has always been an occasion where current and former Justices, briefing attorneys, and staff could gather and reminisce about the little-known funny, touching, or otherwise memorable events that happened during their tenure at the Court. To this day, it continues to be a hallmark of the affinity former Court colleagues have for one another, regardless of partisan or legal persuasion.

The breakfast has traditionally been organized by a former briefing attorney, and was hosted for several decades in conjunction with the State Bar’s annual meeting (in whatever city the meeting was held) until the early 1990s. During the 1970s, Place 8 Justice Sam Johnson was the Briefing Attorney Liaison Justice for the Court, and ensured a former BA was always tapped to host and organize the event. Beginning in the 1990s, Court staff (beginning with Chief Justice Tom Phillips’s Executive Assistant, Catherine Bartoli) began to assist in hosting and running the breakfast. This continued for many years (with Darla Sadler taking over the administrative duties after Catherine left the Court) until the early 2010s, when the Society offered to alleviate the administrative burden imposed on Court staff and handle the logistics necessary to host the breakfast.

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