TEXAS SUPREME COURT IN EAST TEXAS
SUPREME COURT BIOS
Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht
Nathan L. Hecht is the 27th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas. He has been elected to the Court six times, first in 1988 as a Justice, and most recently in 2014 as Chief Justice. He is the longest-serving Member of the Court in Texas history and the senior Texas appellate judge in active service. Throughout his service on the Court, Chief Justice Hecht has overseen revisions to the rules of administration, practice, and procedure in Texas courts, and was appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States to the federal Advisory Committee on Civil Rules. Chief Justice Hecht is also active in the Court's efforts to assure that Texans living below the poverty level, as well as others with limited means, have access to basic civil legal services.
Chief Justice Hecht was appointed to the district court in 1981 and was elected to the court of appeals in 1986. Before taking the bench, he was a partner in the Locke firm in Dallas. Chief Justice Hecht holds a B.A. degree with honors in philosophy from Yale University, and a J.D. degree cum laude from the SMU School of Law, where he was a Hatton W. Sumners Scholar. He clerked for Judge Roger Robb on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve Judge Advocate General Corps.
Chief Justice Hecht is a Life Member of the American Law Institute and a member of the Texas Philosophical Society.
His term ends December 31, 2020.
Justice Paul W. Green
Justice Green was elected to the Supreme Court of Texas in 2004. Before joining the Court, he served for 10 years as a Justice on the Fourth Court of Appeals in San Antonio.
A native of San Antonio, Justice Green received his business degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1974 and his law degree from St. Mary's University School of Law in 1977. After law school, Justice Green, a third-generation lawyer, joined his father in a mid-sized litigation practice and remained there for 17 years until he was elected to the Court of Appeals in 1994.
During his career as a lawyer, Justice Green served as president of the San Antonio Bar Association, director of the State Bar of Texas, and as a member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association. He is a member of The American Law Institute and the American Judicature Society and is also a Life Fellow of the Austin, San Antonio, Texas and American Bar Foundations. Justice Green has been honored by St. Mary's University Law School as a distinguished law graduate, and as a recipient of the Rosewood Gavel Award for achievement in the judiciary.
His term expires at the end of 2022.
Justice Phil Johnson
Justice Johnson was appointed to the Court on March 15, 2005, by Gov. Rick Perry. He was serving as chief justice of the Seventh Court of Appeals in Amarillo at the time of his appointment.
He was elected to the Seventh Court of Appeals in 1998 and was elected chief justice in 2002. He practiced law from 1975 until 1998 with the Lubbock law firm of Crenshaw, Dupree & Milam, L.L.P.
Justice Johnson attended Texas Tech University School of Law, where he was a member of the law review and graduated with honors in 1975. He has served on numerous committees of the State Bar, is a member of the College of the State Bar, is a Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and the American Bar Foundation, and has served as president of the Lubbock County Bar Association. He is board certified in civil trial law and personal injury trial law.
From 1965 until 1972 he served in the U.S. Air Force as a pilot. He is a Vietnam veteran.
Justice Johnson is married to Carla Jean Johnson and has five children.
Justice Johnson, appointed to a vacancy left when Justice Michael H. Schneider was appointed to the U.S. District Court in Tyler, was elected to fill the remaining two years of Justice Schneider's term. He was re-elected to a full term in 2008 and again in 2014, which ends December 31, 2020.
Justice Don R. Willett
Don Willett was appointed to the Supreme Court of Texas in August 2005 and elected to a full term in November 2006.
Before assuming the bench, Justice Willett was a Deputy Texas Attorney General, serving as chief legal adviser to Attorney General Greg Abbott on the complete array of major legal issues confronting Texas.
Before that, Justice Willett was Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he played a key role in the President's judicial selection and nominations process. He also supervised numerous cutting-edge civil and criminal justice initiatives, such as expediting U.S. citizenship for active-duty immigrant service members and crafting the landmark PROTECT Act of 2003 to protect children from abduction and exploitation. Before joining the Justice Department, Willett served as Special Assistant to the President in the White House, providing legal counsel on religious liberty and other issues.
From 1996 to 2000, Justice Willett was Director of Research & Special Projects for then-Governor Bush, and later was Domestic Policy & Special Projects Adviser to the Bush-Cheney 2000 Presidential Campaign and Transition Team.
A native Texan, Justice Willett earned a triple-major BBA from Baylor University and his J.D. with honors along with an A.M. in political science from Duke University, where he was Senior Editor of LAW & CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS and Editor of the DUKE INTERNATIONAL & COMPARATIVE LAW ANNUAL. Following law and graduate school, he was a law clerk to Judge Jerre S. Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. From 1993 to 1996, he practiced employment/labor law in the Austin office of Haynes and Boone, L.L.P. and also handled significant pro bono matters for various nonprofit legal foundations.
Justice Willett was named Outstanding Young Alumnus of Baylor University in 2005 and inducted into the Forney Hall of Honor in 2007. He has been named recipient of the 2012 Price Daniel Distinguished Public Service Award. Justice Willett has also received the Faith and Integrity in Legal Services Award and the Austin Under 40 Award for Government and Public Affairs. Justice Willett is a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, the Austin Bar Foundation, and is a member of the American Law Institute.
Justice Willett serves as Supreme Court Liaison to the Texas Center for Legal Ethics, the Task Force to Ensure Judicial Readiness in Times of Emergency, the Grievance Oversight Committee, and the Texas Center for the Judiciary.
Justice Willett has a long history of community involvement, including appointments to the Texas Commission on Volunteerism & Community Service, the Texas Commission on Judicial Efficiency (judicial selection reform task force), and the 1997–98 Class of Leadership Austin. His board and nonprofit service includes the National Fatherhood Initiative, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, SafePlace, the Texas Lyceum Association, the national advisory board of ConSource (The Constitutional Sources Project), the advisory board of the TEXAS REVIEW OF LAW & POLITICS, the advisory board of the Federalist Society (Austin chapter), the advisory board of the Harlan Institute, and the Baylor University Council for Institutional Development. In addition, Justice Willett was a Class XXII member of the Governor's Executive Development Program, and in the mid-1990s was a Senior Fellow with the Texas Public Policy Foundation. He has also served as a non-resident fellow with the Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society (PRRUCS) at the University of Pennsylvania.
Justice Willett's wife, Tiffany, has served in the Texas Senate and also in the White House, where she was Education Director for the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. She most recently worked for Texas CASA, which advocates for abused and neglected children in the court system. They have three young children: Jacob, Shane-David, and Genevieve.
Justice Willett's term ends December 31, 2018.
Justice Eva Guzman
Justice Eva Guzman has served at three levels of the Texas judiciary. In 2009 she was appointed to serve on the Supreme Court of Texas by Governor Rick Perry. She was elected to a full term in November 2010, when she became the first Hispanic woman elected to state-wide office in Texas. Before her appointment, Justice Guzman served for almost a decade on the Houston-based Fourteenth Court of Appeals. She began her judicial service on the 309th District Court in Harris County, after an appointment by then-Governor George W. Bush. Now in her 15th year on the bench, Justice Guzman has consistently received high marks in judicial evaluation polls.
Justice Guzman is the Court's liaison to the Commission on Judicial Conduct, the Texas Access to Justice Foundation and the Texas Access to Justice Commission, responsible for oversight and funding of the state's legal-assistance programs for the poor. She also is Chair of the Supreme Court's Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families.
Justice Guzman's devotion to the law and her community has been recognized by national, state and local organizations. She is a 2014 recipient of the Women and the Law Section of the State Bar of Texas Sara T. Hughes Lawyers of Achievement Award and is a 2014 recipient of the of the Association of Women Attorneys' "Premier Women in the Law Modern Trailblazer" award. Her alma mater, South Texas College of Law, recently recognized Justice Guzman's significant career accomplishments and community leadership with a 2014 Alumni Impact Award. The National Hispanic Bar Association honored Justice Guzman with a 2009 Latina Judge of the Year Award. Justice Guzman holds Pathfinder Awards from both the Texas Women Lawyers and the Travis County Women Lawyers Association and was an early recipient of the Texas Executive Women Women on the Move® award.
Justice Guzman was recently elected to the Board of Trustees for The Center for American and International Law. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of South Texas College of Law. Justice Guzman also serves on the Board of Visitors of Duke University School of Law. She previously served on the board of the Garland Walker American Inns of Court. Since 2005, she has been an elected member of the American Law Institute. Justice Guzman has also served as adjunct faculty at the University of Houston Law Center and the American Bar Association Family Law Trial Advocacy Institute.
Before taking the bench, Justice Guzman enjoyed a successful 10-year career in Houston. She holds a B.B.A. from the University of Houston, a law degree from South Texas College and an LL.M. from Duke University School of Law.
Justice Debra Lehrmann
Debra H. Lehrmann was appointed to the Court by Governor Rick Perry on June 21, 2010. Before her appointment, she served as the District Judge of the 360th District Court in Fort Worth, Texas, and served as a family law judge in Tarrant County for 22 years. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Justice Lehrmann graduated from the University of Texas in 1979 and the University of Texas School of Law in 1982.
Prior to her appointment to the bench, she practiced law with the Fort Worth law firm of Law, Snakard & Gambill. She also worked as the lead attorney and director of the Enforcement Division of the Tarrant County Domestic Relations Office. In 1990, she was recognized as the Outstanding Young Lawyer of Tarrant County.
In 2005, Justice Lehrmann was appointed by Governor Perry to serve as a commissioner on the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and previously served as the chair of the drafting committee on the Uniform Relocation Act. She is a past president of the Texas Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, is a past president of the Tarrant County Young Lawyers Association, is a master member of the Eldon B. Mahon Inn of Court, served on the Advisory Board of Tarrant County Dispute Resolution Services, is a fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and the American Bar Foundation, and is a charter member of the Tarrant County Bar Foundation.
An active member of the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association, she serves as chair of the section and as the Judicial Liaison to the Judicial Division of the ABA. She previously served on the Executive Committee of the Section Officers Conference of the ABA.
In 2005, Justice Lehrmann received the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Scott Moore Award and in 2009 received the Eva Barnes Award for leadership and uncommon contributions to the field of family law. She speaks frequently at continuing legal education events throughout the state and country, and lectures at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law. The author of numerous published articles, in 2003 she received the Texas Bar Foundation's award for the best bar journal article of the year, for The Child's Voice--An Analysis of the Methodology Used to Involve Children in Custody Litigation (Texas Bar Journal, November 2002). She is the author of two legal treatises which are updated yearly, Texas Annotated Family Code (Lexis Nexis-Matthew Bender) and Court-Appointed Representation of Children.
She has been married to her husband, Greg, a real estate attorney, for 27 years. They have two sons, Gregory Alan, a freshman at UCLA, and Jonathan William, a freshman at UT.
Justice Jeffrey S. Boyd
Jeffrey S. Boyd joined the Court on December 3, 2012, appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to fill Justice Dale Wainwright's unexpired term. Wainwright resigned September 30.Justice Boyd was the governor's chief of staff since September 2011. Before that he was Gov. Perry's general counsel.
Boyd is a graduate of Abilene Christian University and earned his law degree summa cum laude from Pepperdine University, where he graduated second in his law school class. After graduation he clerked for Judge Thomas M. Reavley on the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
He spent 15 years with Thompson & Knight L.L.P. in two stints, leaving first in 2000 to join then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn as deputy attorney general for general litigation and continuing with Attorney General Greg Abbott. He rejoined Thompson & Knight as senior partner in 2003.
In January 2011 he left Thompson & Knight to join the Governor's Office as general counsel.
Justice Boyd was named a Texas Super Lawyer for government practice in 2004 and in 2006-2010. He has been a Supreme Court Advisory Committee member since 2003.
He has served as board president and director of Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas, as chair and director of Goodwill Industries of Central Texas and as a director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. He is serving a one-year term as president of the American Inns of Court, Robert W. Calvert Inn.
Before he went to law school, Boyd worked as youth and family minister of the Brentwood Oaks Church of Christ in Austin and was on the Brentwood Christian School board from 1994 to 2000.
He and his wife, Jackie, have twin daughters, Hanna and Abbie, and a son, Carter.
Justice John Phillip Devine
Justice John Devine was elected to the Supreme Court of Texas in November 2012. He previously served for seven years as judge of the 190th state district court in Harris County and for nine years as an appointed special judge for the Harris County justice of the peace courts.
A native of Indiana, Justice Devine attended Ball State University, graduating in 1980 with a B.S. degree in business administration and Marketing. Following graduation, Justice Devine became a Texan and entered the corporate world of Shell Oil Co. in Houston as an analyst and later worked in various corporate and project-oriented positions. While at Shell, he was accepted by South Texas College of Law, graduating with a juris doctorate in 1986. Justice Devine remained with Shell until 1987. The next year Devine went to work for Brown & Root Inc, and again contributed to numerous corporate as well as major international and domestic industrial construction projects.
Justice Devine was elected in 1995 and re-elected in 1998 to the district court. During his tenure, Devine tried nearly 350 jury trials and presided over more than 500 bench trials. In 1998 he was voted well qualified by the Houston Bar Association. Justice Devine reduced his court's case backlog by more than 40 percent during his two terms. Devine was awarded the title of "Texas Size Hero" by Focus on the Family magazine.
In his private litigation practice since 2002, Justice Devine represented both plaintiffs and defendants in state and federal courts. In 2002 he was appointed as a special judge for the Harris County justice courts and served until 2011. Devine was also a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association, the Board of Civil District Judge Mass Torts Committee, Board of Civil District Judges, the Harris County Juvenile Justice Charter School Board and the Harris County Juvenile Board.
Justice Devine has been married since 1989 to Nubia Piedad Gomez, formerly of Venezuela, and the couple has six children.
Justice Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown was appointed to Texas Supreme Court by Governor Rick Perry in September 2013 to replace Justice Nathan L. Hecht after Hecht's appointment as chief justice. Justice Brown took his oath October 3.
Since 2007 he had been a justice on Houston's 14th Court of Appeals.
From 2001 into 2007 he served as judge of the 55th District Court. In 2009 Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson appointed Brown to the state's Multi-District Litigation Panel. In 2011 he was named Appellate Judge of the Year by the Texas Association of Civil Trial & Appellate Specialists.
Justice Brown holds board certification in civil trial law. Before becoming a judge, he practiced at Baker Botts LLP in Houston, trying jury cases throughout Southeast Texas. Before joining Baker Botts, he was a briefing attorney to Justices Jack Hightower and Greg Abbott on the Texas Supreme Court.
He is the fourth former law clerk to become a justice on the Court.
He earned his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Texas and his law degree with high honors from the University of Houston. While in law school he served as chief note and comment editor of the Houston Law Review.
In 2006, the Texas Young Lawyers Association named Brown its Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas. He has been active in state and local bar activities, including service as judicial liaison to the Houston Young Lawyers Association, chairman of HYLA's Non-Profit Law Committee, co-chairman of the Houston Bar Association's John J. Eikenburg Law Week Fun Run and vice-chairman of TYLA's National Trial Competition. He has served on the boards of the Texas Lyceum, Houston Law Review, University of Houston Law Alumni Association, Texas Supreme Court Historical Society, Texas Center for the Judiciary and Christian Community Service Center. He also serves on LifeHouse of Houston's advisory board and as a Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo committeeman.
An Eagle Scout, Jeff served on the Sam Houston Area Boy Scouts' Urban Scouting Committee, an effort to bring Scouting to the inner city. He remains an active Scout leader, and serves as Scouting Ministries Coordinator at his church. Jeff also worked on Operation Compassion, serving food to Katrina evacuees in 2005. The Texas Jaycees named him one of Five Outstanding Young Texans in 2008.
Justice Brown has been an adjunct law professor at the University of Houston and is a member of the State Bar's Pattern Jury Charge Committee. He also serves on the editorial board of the The Advocate, the quarterly journal of the State Bar's Litigation Section. In 2008 he was elected to the American Law Institute. He has also taught for the National Judicial College.
He and his wife, Susannah, a schoolteacher, have three children, Kathleen, Rob and Gus. They are members of Bellaire United Methodist Church in Bellaire.
He was elected to the remaining four years of his term in 2014 which ends December 31, 2018.