Wallace B. Jefferson

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Wallace Bernard Jefferson
Wallace B Jefferson.jpg
Chief Justice, Texas Supreme Court
In office
September 2004 – October 1, 2013
Nominated by Rick Perry
Preceded by Thomas R. Phillips
Succeeded by Nathan Hecht
Associate Justice of the Texas Supreme Court
In office
Nominated by Rick Perry
Preceded by Alberto Gonzales
Succeeded by David M. Medina
Personal details
Born (1963-07-22) July 22, 1963 (age 54)
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Rhonda Jefferson
Children 3
Occupation attorney, former jurist

Wallace Bernard Jefferson (born July 22, 1963)[1] is the former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, who served from 2004 until October 1, 2013. In October 2013, he joined the law firm, Alexander Dubose Jefferson Townsend LLP, as a name partner. He sits on the council of the American Law Institute and became its treasurer, in May 2014.[2] A member of the Republican Party, he was formerly, the first African American justice of the Texas Supreme Court.[citation needed]

Early life and education[edit]

He is a graduate of John Jay High School in San Antonio, Texas, the James Madison College at Michigan State University and the University of Texas School of Law.[citation needed]

Historic judicial appointments and elections[edit]

In 2001, then Texas governor Rick Perry appointed him to become the first African American justice of the Texas Supreme Court, and then again, in 2004, he was appointed the first African American chief justice. In November 2002, Jefferson also became, with Dale Wainwright, the first two African Americans elected to the court.[citation needed]

Jefferson was first appointed to the court on April 18, 2001, to fill the vacancy left by Alberto R. Gonzales, who resigned to become White House counsel to U.S. president George W. Bush. Jefferson was then elected to that seat, in 2002 with 56 percent of the vote. Before Jefferson could complete his new term, however, he was again promoted by Perry. On September 20, 2004, Perry appointed Jefferson as the successor to chief justice Thomas R. Phillips, who had resigned from the court a few weeks earlier, after nearly seventeen years as chief justice. Jefferson was elected in November 2006, to serve out the remainder of Phillips's unexpired term as chief justice in November 2006.[citation needed]

Perry named long-term associate justice Nathan Hecht of Dallas as Jefferson's successor as chief justice.

Notable activities[edit]

Jefferson was elected to the American Law Institute (the ALI) in 2001 and was elected to the ALI council, in 2011.[3] In May 2014, he was named treasurer of ALI. He also serves as an adviser on the Restatement Third, the law of consumer contracts.[4] He also chairs the ALI's regional advisory group, covering Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas.[5]

During his time on the bench, Jefferson served as president of the Conference of Chief Justices,[6] an association of chief justices from the fifty states and U.S. territories.

In 2015, governor Greg Abbott appointed Jefferson to the Texas Historical Commission.[7]

Before the bench, Jefferson successfully argued two cases before the United States Supreme Court. Board of Commissioners of Bryan County, Oklahoma v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397 (1997),[8] and Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School District, 524 U.S. 274 (1998).[9]

Honors and awards[edit]

In 2013, Jefferson was the recipient of the Texas Exes' Distinguished Alumnus Award.[10]

An alumnus of the Northside ISD school district, the Wallace B. Jefferson Middle School was named in his honor. The school was opened, on August 27, 2007.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Jefferson and his wife, Rhonda J. Jefferson (born 1965), have three sons.[citation needed]

Supreme Court Nomination[edit]

Jefferson is known to be one of the Hillary Clinton campaign staff's suspected choices for Supreme Court justice.[11]


External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Thomas R. Phillips
Texas Supreme Court Justice,
Chief Justice

Succeeded by
Nathan Hecht
Preceded by
Alberto R. Gonzalez
Texas Supreme Court Justice,
Place 4

Succeeded by
David M. Medina