Retired Chief Justice Jack Pope, who as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court had a judicial tenure longer than any justice in the Court’s history, turns 100 Thursday and will be honored in a ceremony in the Texas House of Representatives.
State Rep. Dan Branch, who worked for Chief Justice Pope as a law clerk in 1983-84, will read from a concurrent resolution Branch sponsored. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 1:05 p.m.
At 100, Pope is the longest living state chief justice in U.S. history and appears to be the first to reach 100.
“This occasion is a milestone, for Chief Justice Pope and for Texas,” Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson said. “But this is more than a birthday celebration. This is an event to honor one of the country’s great legal legends.”
Pope’s 38-year tenure as a Texas jurist is notable for his lasting imprint on state water rights, for accomplishing formal judicial education for Texas judges, for advocating a voluntary judicial-ethics code when judges had none and for succeeding in making that code mandatory and enforceable, and for streamlining and simplifying how cases are pleaded and tried.
Chief Justice Pope’s career as a judge began with his appointment to a district court bench in Nueces County in 1946, at 33 then the youngest district judge in the state. When voters elected him to the San Antonio Court of Civil Appeals in 1950 he was the first justice on that court from south of San Antonio. He won election to the Texas Supreme Court in 1964 and retired in 1985 after slightly more than two years as chief justice.