Term: 2012 — 2015
Wallace Jefferson has twice made history as the first African American Justice and Chief Justice on the Supreme Court of Texas. Chief Justice Jefferson was appointed to the Court in 2001, making him Governor Perry's first appointment to a statewide judicial office. He was elected in 2002 with 60% of the vote in the contested Republican primary, and 56% of the vote in the contested general election. In 2004, Governor Perry promoted him to Chief Justice. In 2006, Chief Justice Jefferson earned more votes than any other candidate for State office. He was reelected in 2008.
Wallace Jefferson is the son of Retired Air Force Major William D. Jefferson and Joyce Jefferson of San Antonio, Texas. He graduated from John Jay High School in 1981, received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Philosophy from James Madison College at Michigan State University in 1985, and earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1988 from the University of Texas School of Law. He is board certified in civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Chief Justice Jefferson developed an early interest in appellate law as a student of the late constitutional scholar Charles Alan Wright. In 1989, he joined the appellate section of Groce, Locke and Hebdon in San Antonio. He founded his own appellate law firm with Tom Crofts and Sharon Callaway in 1991. Crofts, Callaway and Jefferson soon became one of the preeminent appellate practices in Texas.
He quickly earned a reputation for appellate excellence. He successfully argued two cases before the United States Supreme Court by age 35, which is an accomplishment earned by less than one percent of lawyers in the country. His experience arguing at the highest court in the land, combined with his frequent appearances before the Supreme Court of Texas and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, brings a unique and valuable perspective to the bench.
Chief Justice Jefferson is the descendant of a slave, who was owned by a Waco, Texas judge before the Civil War. That slave, Shedrick Willis, served his community as a two-term member of the Waco City Council after the War. Chief Justice Jefferson's family history is a testament to the perseverance of the individual human spirit, and his role as Chief Justice proves the enduring strength of our Constitution.
Chief Justice Jefferson was unanimously elected by his peers across the country to become President of the Conference of Chief Justices in 2010-2011, where he will guide national judicial policy.
Michigan State University honored Chief Justice Jefferson with its Outstanding Alumnus award in 2007. He received the University of Texas School of Law's Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2005 and the James Madison College Distinguished Alumnus award in 2002. He was President of the San Antonio Bar Association in 1998 and the William S. Sessions American Inn of Court in 1999. Chief Justice Jefferson was recognized as a Pillar of the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio. In 2006, Chief Justice Jefferson received the Houston Lawyer's Association Robert L. Hainsworth Outstanding Service Award. In 2007, Chief Justice Jefferson's parents greeted students at the new "Wallace B. Jefferson" Middle School in San Antonio. This year, Chief Justice Jefferson has been honored with the Texas Exes’ Distinguished Alumnus Award.