Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson (pictured) has announced that he will be departing the Texas Supreme Court effective October 1, 2013. The Texas Lawbook, a Dallas Morning News affiliate, first reported the announcement. It appears that Chief Justice Jefferson, like others who have left the Court in recent years, will return to private practice.
As noted at the Supreme Court of Texas Blog, Chief Justice Jefferson’s decision and timing could allow Governor Perry to make two two appointments to the Court. First, the Governor will appoint Chief Justice Jefferson’s replacement. If that person is a sitting SCOTX justice—and, presumably, he or she will be—the Governor will then appoint someone to fill the seat vacated by the newly appointed chief justice. Because they must stand for election in 2014, the appointees will be campaigning to keep their new jobs from day one.
Chief Justice Jefferson has served on the Supreme Court since 2001 and in his current position since 2004. The Court’s first African-American justice and chief justice, he has steered the Court steadily into the electronic age and has been a staunch advocate for judicial selection reform and judicial pay increases. Jefferson’s predecessor, former Chief Justice Thomas R. Phillips, has been quoted as saying about him: “I can make a strong argument that he is the best chief justice in my lifetime.”
An abbreviated version of the original Texas Lawbook story (which is behind a paywall) has been posted here.
The official SCOTX announcement is available here.