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William Wayne Justice

william wayne justice, william wayne justice center
William Wayne Justice February 25, 1920 – October 13, 2009 was an American jurist He served as a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas and a Senior United States District Judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Legal career
  • 3 Honors and recognition
  • 4 Other notable cases
  • 5 Publications in his honor
  • 6 Scholarly publications
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links

Early life

Justice was born in 1920 in Athens, Texas He received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Texas, graduating from its School of Law in 1942 He joined the US Army and served in India during World War II In 1946, he began practicing law in Athens with his father, who was known as a voice for the disadvantaged After serving as City Attorney in Athens for eight years, Judge Justice was selected by President John F Kennedy in 1961 to serve as the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas In 1968, President Lyndon B Johnson appointed him to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, sitting in Tyler Judge Justice took senior status in 1998 and later sat by designation in the Western District of Texas

Legal career

Justice was appointed to the federal bench by President Lyndon B Johnson He worked throughout his life to protect civil rights, uphold constitutional freedoms, and ensure equal justice for all His public service earned awards and recognition, and the Center for Public Interest Law at the University of Texas at Austin honors his name and career His landmark rulings have safeguarded the rights of minorities, the poor, and the politically powerless in many areas These decisions addressed race discrimination in schools and housing, inhumane treatment in public facilities, the dilution of voting rights, inadequate education for immigrant and non-English speaking children, and the unnecessary institutionalization of the mentally retarded

Although his career on the bench was a long and distinguished one, Justice was best known for Ruiz v Estelle and United States v Texas

In November 1970, Justice notably ordered the Texas Education Agency TEA to desegregate its schools in United States v Texas, which is regarded as one of the most extensive desegregation orders in legal history as it encompassed over a thousand school districts and nearly two million students It was upheld by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit At that time, many schools in Texas, particularly those in East Texas, remained segregated and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare HEW referred the matter to the Department of Justice as it had limited powers to enforce desegregation laws According to the Texas State Historical Association, Justice's "decision detailing how integration was to occur quickly captured the attention of both public school officials and top state policymakers"

In 1972, Texas prison inmate David Ruiz filed a fifteen page handwritten civil rights complaint alleging he was confined under unconstitutional conditions, harassed by prison officials, given inadequate medical care, and subjected to unlawful solitary confinement His complaint was combined with others to become a class action suit Ruiz v Estelle, 550 F2d 238 The trial, which began in October 1978, lasted a year In a 118-page, 1979 decision, Judge Justice ruled that the conditions of imprisonment within the TDC prison system constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the United States Constitution The decision led to federal oversight of the system, with a prison construction boom and "sweeping reforms that fundamentally changed how Texas prisons operated"

Honors and recognition

In 2004, the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law was established in his honor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law The Justice Center promotes equal justice for all through legal education, scholarship and public service

On November 16, 2006, Justice received the first "Morris Dees Justice Award" given annually to a lawyer who has devoted his career to serving the public interest and pursuing justice, and whose work has brought about positive change in the community, state, or nation It was created by the international law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and The University of Alabama School of Law to honor Morris Dees for his lifelong devotion to public service Dees, who is co-founder and chief trial counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, presented the award at a ceremony in Skadden offices in New York City

Judge Justice's tombstone at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas

Justice died on October 13, 2009, in Austin Though Governor William Perry Clements, Jr, had frequently quarreled with Justice, Bill Hobby, the Democrat from Houston and the lieutenant governor under both of Clements' nonconsecutive terms, lauded the judge: "Judge Justice dragged Texas into the 20th century God bless him He was very unpopular, but he was doing the right thing"

Other notable cases

  • Montgomery v White, 320 F Supp 303 ED Tex 1969
  • Roper v Beto, 318 F Supp 662 ED Tex 1970
  • United States v Texas, 321 F Supp 1043 ED Tex 1970, supplemented by 330 F Supp 235 ED Tex 1971
  • Duke v North Texas State University, 338 F Supp 990 ED Tex 1971
  • McGuire v Roebuck, 347 F Supp 1111 ED Tex 1972
  • Graves v Barnes, 343 F Supp 704 WD Tex 1972
  • Morales v Turman, 383 F Supp 53 ED Tex 1974
  • United States v Hall, 468 F Supp 123 ED Tex 1979
  • Wells v Hutchinson, 499 F Supp 174 ED Tex 1980
  • Jones v Latexo Independent School District, 499 F Supp 223 ED Tex 1980
  • Young v Pierce, 544 F Supp 1010 ED Tex 1982
  • Lelsz v Kavanagh, 98 FRD 11 ED Tex 1982
  • Nash v Texas, 632 F Supp 951 ED Tex 1986
  • Young v Pierce, 640 F Supp 1476 ED Tex 1986
  • Texans Against Censorship, Inc v State Bar of Texas, 888 F Supp 1328 ED Tex 1995
  • Ruiz v Johnson, 37 F Supp 2d 855 SD Tex 1999
  • Frew v Gilbert, 109 F Supp 2d 579 ED Tex 2000
  • Frew v Hawkins, 401 F Supp 2d 619 ED Tex 2005

Publications in his honor

  • Blais, Lynn E "William Wayne Justice: The Life of the Law" Texas Law Review 771 Nov 1998: 1-7
  • "Dedication and Tributes Judge William Wayne Justice" Annual Survey of American Law 1986 Apr 1987: vii-xx
  • Dubose, Louis "A Texas ‘Advocate for Justice'" The Nation 13 November 2000: 20-22
  • Elliot, Janet "Justice Recognized for a Career built on Seminal Cases" Houston Chronicle 4 December 2006
  • Gamino, Denise "High-profile Justice Hitting Trail to Austin" The Austin-American Statesman 25 May 1998: A1
  • Hall, Michael "Justice Is Not Done" Texas Monthly, October 2006
  • Hood, Lucy "Educating Immigrant Students" Carnegie Reporter 42 Spring 2007
  • Ivins, Molly "Texas-size Void Left with Exodus of Judge Justice" The Fresno Bee, 13 May 1998: B7
  • Jackson, Bruce "Texas Prisons Go On Trial" The Nation 28 October 1978: 437-9
  • Kemerer, Frank R William Wayne Justice: A Judicial Biography Austin: University of Texas Press, 1991
  • Klimko, Frank, and Evan Moore "'Czar of Texas'/William Wayne Justice Takes Heavy Criticism with Grace" The Houston Chronicle 11 January 1987: 1
  • Maraniss, David "Justice, Texas Style" The Washington Post 28 February 1987: G1
  • Martin, Steve J Texas Prisons: The Walls Came Tumbling Down Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1987
  • Mithoff, Richard "William Wayne Justice: Blessed by the Gifts of This Judicial Giant" The Houston Chronicle 15 November 1998: 1
  • Mithoff, Richard Warren "A Tribute to Justice" Texas Law Review 779 November 1998: 9-12
  • Politz, Henry A "Judge Justice" Texas Law Review 7713 November 1998: 13-15
  • Vara-Orta, Francisco "'Activist' Judge Still Battling Injustice" Austin American-Statesman 12 August 2006: 1
  • Walt, Kathy "Judge Justice Left Footprints on Host of Social Reforms" The Houston Chronicle 8 February 1998: 1
  • Ward, Mike "Judge Says Reforms Worked For Awhile " Austin American-Statesman 6 May 2007: A7
  • Ward, Mike "Prisons Lawsuit Drawing to Close" Austin American-Statesman 8 June 2002:1

Scholarly publications

  • "Address: The Origins of Ruiz v Estelle" Stanford Law Review 43 November 1990: 1-12
  • "Burrs Under the Saddle" Texas Bar Journal 68 July 2005: 609-610
  • "Law Day Address at the University of Texas at Austin: The Enlightened Jurisprudence of Justice Thurgood Marshall" Texas Law Review 71 May 1993: 1099-1114
  • "The New Awakening: Judicial Activism in a Conservative Age" Southwestern Law Journal 43 October 1989: 657-676
  • "Recognizing the Ninth Amendment's Role in Constitutional Interpretation" Texas Law Review 74 May 1996: 1241-1244
  • "A Relativist Constitution" University of Colorado Law Review 52 1980–1981: 19-32
  • "The Two Faces of Judicial Activism" George Washington Law Review 61 November 1992: 1-13


  1. ^ Kemerer, Frank 2008 William Wayne Justice: A Judicial Biography, 2d ed Austin: University of Texas Press
  2. ^ "United States District Court, ED Texas, Marshall Division UNITED STATES of America v STATE OF TEXAS, Texas Education Agency, Dr J W Edgar, Commissioner of Education, Cason Independent School District, et al — 321 FSupp 1043" PDF University of Texas School of Law — Tarlton Law Library 1970 
  3. ^ United States v Texas, 506 F Supp 405 ED Tex 1981,
  4. ^ "UNITED STATES V TEXAS" Texas State Historical Association 
  5. ^ "Ruiz v Estelle, 503 FSupp 1295 1980" PDF PDF 1980 Retrieved 2009-11-04 
  6. ^ Lucko, Paul "Handbook of Texas Online - Pope, Lawrence Chalmous" wwwtshaonlineorg Retrieved 2009-11-04 
  7. ^ "30-year Texas prison battle ends" Dallas Morning News June 8, 2002  Missing or empty |url= help
  8. ^ William Wayne Justice Center http://wwwutexasedu/law/academics/centers/publicinterest/about/judgejusticehtml
  9. ^ “Civil Rights Legend Morris Dees to Discuss Litigating Against Hate Groups, March 1” University of Texas at Austin School of Law News & Events Press release, February 12, 2007 "Archived copy" Archived from the original on 2008-05-16 Retrieved 2009-01-13 
  10. ^ McCracken, Jennifer "Judge Justice Honored with the First Morris Dees Award" University of Alabama Press Release, September, 2006
  11. ^ "US District Judge William Wayne Justice dies; rulings led to sweeping prison reforms" Dallas Morning News October 14, 2009 
  12. ^ "Texas Federal Judge, 89, Dies", Laredo Morning Times, October 15, 2009, p 11A

External links

  • Texas portal
  • Biography portal
  • Law portal
  • The University of Texas School of Law named its public interest center in honor of Judge Justice
  • William Wayne Justice at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center
  • William Wayne Justice at Find a Grave
  • New York Times: William Wayne Justice, Judge Who Remade Texas, Dies at 89
  • The University of Texas at Austin School of Law: The Honorable William Wayne Justice 1920 - 2009

Legal offices
Preceded by
Joseph Warren Sheehy
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
Succeeded by
T John Ward

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