The State Bar of Texas Appellate Section and the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society celebrated its Texas Appellate Hall of Fame 2019 inductees during an Advanced Civil Appellate Seminar in Austin on September 5. The award recognizes judges, attorneys, and court personnel who have made significant contributions to appellate law and who are no longer living.
The 2019 inductees:
Thomas J. Rusk—The third chief justice of Texas, Thomas Rusk was actually the first to preside over a Supreme Court session and authored its first opinion in 1840. Prior to his life on the bench, Rusk was a signatory to the Texas Declaration of Independence and was also the Texas Republic’s war secretary. He oversaw the burial of Col. James Fannin, who, along with his men, was executed at Goliad under orders from President Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna. Rusk led the final charge on Santa Anna at San Jacinto.
Hortense Sparks Ward—When Hortense Ward passed the Texas bar exam in 1910—the first woman to do so—she set off a string of firsts. Among those milestones: the first female Texan to be licensed to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court; special chief justice of the temporary all-woman Texas Supreme Court (the first state high court of its kind in the country) of January 1925 in a case involving a trustee of a fraternal order of which the all-male Texas Supreme Court were members; and the country’s first female chief justice after being appointed to the latter by Gov. Pat Neff. The opinion issued (in a cause) has been cited numerous times by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and Texas appellate courts.
John L. Hill Jr.—As the attorney general of Texas, John Hill argued before the U.S. Supreme Court five times. He served as the Texas Supreme Court chief justice from 1984 until 1988 when he resigned to lead an effort to abolish the popular election of judges in the state. Hill, who also served as the Texas secretary of state, is the only person to have held all three titles. In 1997, he received a lifetime achievement award from his alma mater, the University of Texas School of Law. In 2004, UT Law established in his honor the John L. Hill Trial Advocacy Center.
Austin McCloud—Austin McCloud first joined the Texas judiciary when he was appointed to the 32nd District Court in Sweetwater. In 1970, he was elected chief justice of the 11th Court of Appeals in Eastland. During his time there, McCloud served as president of both the Council of Chief Judges of Courts of Appeals of the United States and the Council of Chief Justices of Texas Courts of Appeals. He retired after 24 years. In 1994, McCloud was named Outstanding Jurist of Texas.