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September 14, 2004

Press Contacts: Kirston Fortune, UT Law Communications, (512) 471.7330 and Jodi Bart, UT Law Communications, (512) 471-7330.

Alumnus Wallace B. Jefferson, ’88, Appointed First African American Chief Justice of Texas Supreme Court

Photo of Wallas B. Jefferson
Wallace B. Jefferson

AUSTIN, Texas — The Honorable Wallace B. Jefferson, a 1988 graduate of The University of Texas at Austin School of Law, was named chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court by Governor Rick Perry on Tuesday at the Bexar County Courthouse in Jefferson’s hometown of San Antonio. Jefferson becomes the first African American to serve as chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court.

Jefferson’s appointment will be subject to confirmation by the Texas Senate, but he will be sworn in on Monday, Sept. 20 by Justice Nathan L. Hecht in a private ceremony at the Texas Supreme Court, and allowed to preside over the nine-member court until the Legislature meets in January. Jefferson replaces Chief Justice Tom Phillips, who retired on Sept. 3 after nearly 17 years as chief justice. Jefferson will have to run for election in 2006 to fill Phillips’ unexpired term.

Jefferson, the first African American to serve on the Texas Supreme Court, was appointed to the court in 2001 by Perry, and he won election the following year. When Perry appointed him to the court, Jefferson already had won two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, within 10 years of graduating from UT Law. He was appointed to the Texas Supreme Court before the age of 40 and will serve as chief justice at the age of 41.

“Justice Jefferson is an outstanding judge, and will be an excellent chief justice,” said UT Law Dean Bill Powers. “We are very proud that Governor Perry has chosen a UT Law graduate as the first African American chief justice of the Supreme Court of Texas.”

After graduating from law school in 1988, Jefferson worked at a San Antonio law firm, Groce, Locke & Hebdon, before starting his own civil appellate practice, Crofts, Callaway and Jefferson, in 1991. Jefferson has received numerous awards, and previously served as a Director of the San Antonio Public Library Foundation, the San Antonio Bar Foundation and the Alamo Area Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization.

In August, Justice Jefferson spoke on “Entering the Profession” to first-year law students during UT Law orientation.

Related Link:
Texas Supreme Court Advisory: http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/advisory_archives/jefferson_appointed_091404.htm