Jerry Buchmeyer

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Jerry L. Buchmeyer
Buchmeyer.JPG
United States District Judge, N.D. Texas
In office
October 5, 1979 – September 2008[1]
Nominated by Jimmy Carter
Personal details
Born September 5, 1933
Texas Overton, Texas
Died 2009-09-21
San Marcos, Texas
Alma mater University of Texas
University of Texas School of Law

Jerry L. Buchmeyer (September 5, 1933 – September 21, 2009) was a United States District Judge for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas, Texas.

Born in Overton, Texas in 1933, Buchmeyer received an Associates' Degree from Kilgore College in 1953, his Bachelor's Degree from University of Texas in 1956, and his LLB degree from University of Texas School of Law in 1957. He graduated from UT's law school with the highest grade-point average in its history—a position he held for 15 years. From 1958 to 1979, he was in private law practice in Dallas at the law firm of Thompson & Knight. He died in San Marcos, Texas on September 21, 2009.[1]

On August 3, 1979, Buchmeyer was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to be a federal judge for the Northern District of Texas. Buchmeyer was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 4, 1979, and received his commission on October 5, 1979. He served as chief judge from 1995 to 2002.

Buchmeyer's approach to hiring law clerks was diversity driven: When choosing among his best candidates, one of his first tie-breakers was whether the applicant was from a law school from which he'd never had a clerk. That's how, for example, he could end up with clerks from Syracuse and the University of Buffalo . . . and in the same clerkship year no less.

The Judge was reputed to give his clerks a great deal of freedom in helping him craft opinions in civil cases, even with his encyclopedic knowledge of the case law—as well as the kind of trivia tested on Jeopardy. But criminal cases (because, as the Judge would observe, they had steep learning curve) were reserved entirely for him.

Buchmeyer penned a number of ground-breaking opinions. One of his most interesting upheld the city of Dallas's law governing sexually oriented businesses, Dumas v. City of Dallas, 648 F. Supp. 1061 (N.D. Tex. 1986). Although he found the law constitutional, the Judge took a moment to observe the irony that cloaked the politicization of combating pornography. In remarking on the view of some that pornography “causes” sex crimes, Buchmeyer cannily wrote this on p. 1076 n. 42 about a recent federal commission charged with studying the subject:

Requiring a vendor of books dealing in “specified sexual activities” to have the sale of such material as “one of its principal business purposes” is the sole bar to a finding that, for instance, the Government Printing Office Bookstore is a “sexually oriented business” due to its pandering of the Meese Commission report, ante at 1065-66 n. 12-a work that is explicit in its description of activities 41A-2(19)(A), (B), (C), and (D). See, e.g., the 155 pages of graphic descriptions of pornographic paperback books, peep shows, tabloids, films, and videos-including complete and very explicit summaries of Deep Throat, The Devil in Miss Jones, and Debbie Does Dallas -bravely written, after his prolonged study of and exposure to this relentless and unmitigated sleaze, by the redoubtable Senior Investigator Haggerty. Id. at 1647-1802. Although the Meese Commission concluded that sustained “viewing [of such] nonviolent, sexually explicit material ... is statistically related to a higher probability of” sexual crimes, id. at 172, we are merely left to wonder about the fate of Senior Investigator Haggerty and his tragic battle against these statistical probabilities.

The Judge also brought sports into the courthouse. His chambers were known as the best place for a young lawyer to learn stick ball, to pen short stories about fishing judges, and listen to the Talking Heads.

Judge Buchmeyer was known for his "et cetera" humor column featured in the Texas Bar Journal, which features unintentionally humorous excerpts from trial, hearing, and deposition transcripts around Texas. His corresponding blog was called "Say What?! Classic Humor from U.S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer."

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