Thomas R. Phillips

Last updated
Thomas Royal Phillips
Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court
In office
January 4, 1988 September 3, 2004
Nominated by Bill Clements
Preceded by John Luke Hill, Jr.
Succeeded by Wallace B. Jefferson
Personal details
Born (1949-10-23) October 23, 1949 (age 69)
Dallas, Texas
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s)Marilyn Bracewell Phillips
ChildrenDaniel Austin Phillips
Residence Bastrop, Texas
Alma mater Woodrow Wilson High School

Baylor University

Harvard Law School
Occupation Attorney
former Jurist

Thomas Royal Phillips (born October 23, 1949) is an attorney with the Baker Botts firm in Austin, Texas, who was from 1988 to 2004 the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas. With nearly seventeen years of service, Phillips is the third-longest tenured Chief Justice in Texas history. He was appointed by Governor Bill Clements to fill a vacancy in the office in November 1987, becoming the youngest Chief Justice since Texas became a state. Phillips took office less than a month after CBS' 60 Minutes ran a highly publicized story, entitled "Justice for Sale?," which won widespread attention for its blistering critique of Texas' choice to elect judges by political party without campaign contribution limits. The broadcast alleged improperly close ties between several of the justices and their largest donors, who were amongst the state's most successful personal-injury trial lawyers. In campaigns that received national attention in 1988, Phillips and two other candidates running as Republicans won election to the Court by imposing voluntary limits on the size of campaign contributions. By winning, they joined Railroad Commissioner Ken Hance as the first Republican elected to statewide office since Reconstruction. Phillips, after serving the two years remaining on the term of his predecessor, Chief Justice John L. Hill, was elected to a full term in 1990. In each race he defeated one of his Democratic colleagues on the Court, Ted Z. Robertson in 1988 and Oscar H. Mauzy in 1990, who defended Texas' partisan judicial election system and declined to impose campaign contribution caps. Throughout his tenure, Phillips vigorously advocated a non-partisan appointment-retention election method of choosing Texas judges. While he was ultimately unsuccessful in this effort, like other Texas chief justices before and since, both the Legislature and the Supreme Court imposed restrictions on the amount, timing and source of campaign contributions to judges during his tenure.

Lawyer legal professional who helps clients and represents them in a court of law

A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney, attorney at law, barrister, barrister-at-law, bar-at-law, canonist, canon lawyer, civil law notary, counsel, counselor, counsellor, solicitor, legal executive, or public servant preparing, interpreting and applying law, but not as a paralegal or charter executive secretary. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who hire lawyers to perform legal services.

Austin, Texas Capital of Texas

Austin is the capital city of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County, with portions extending into Hays and Williamson counties. It is the 11th-most populous city in the United States, the fourth-most-populous city in Texas, and the second-most-populous state capital city. It is also the fastest growing large city in the United States and the southernmost state capital in the contiguous United States. As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 1, 2018 estimate, Austin had a population of 964,254 up from 790,491 at the 2010 census. The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,168,316 as of July 1, 2018. Located in Central Texas within the greater Texas Hill Country, it is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis on the Colorado River, Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, and Lake Walter E. Long.

Texas U.S. state in the United States

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.

Phillips served as President of the Conference of Chief Justices in 1997-98, an Adviser of the Federal Judicial Code Project of the American Law Institute, and a member of the Federal-State Relations Committee of the U.S. Judicial Conference, the Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform, the Texas Historical Commission, and the NCAA Committee on Infractions. Phillips received the Burton Award for Professionalism in Law in 2004, the National Center for State Courts' Carrico Award for Judicial Innovation in 2005, the American Judicature Society's Justice Award in 2007, the Texas Young Lawyers Association Outstanding Mentor Award in 2010, and Baylor University's "Pro Texana" Meritorious Achievement Award in 2013.

American Law Institute

The American Law Institute (ALI) was established in 1923 to promote the clarification and simplification of United States common law and its adaptation to changing social needs. Members of ALI include law professors, attorneys, judges and other professionals in the legal industry. ALI writes documents known as "treatises", which are summaries of state common law Many courts and legislatures look to ALI's treatises as authoritative reference material concerning many legal issues. However, some legal experts and the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia have voiced concern about ALI rewriting the law as they want it to be instead of as it is.

Texas Historical Commission agency of the State of Texas, United States

The Texas Historical Commission is an agency dedicated to historic preservation within the state of Texas. It administers the National Register of Historic Places for sites in Texas.

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) is a non-profit organization charged with improving judicial administration in the United States and around the world. It functions as a think-tank, library, non-profit consulting firm for the courts, advocate for judicial and legislative reform, and a center of education in the field of judicial administration.

After winning re-election in 1996 and 2002, Phillips retired from the court in 2004 to teach and return to the private sector. Governor Rick Perry appointed Associate Justice Wallace B. Jefferson to succeed Phillips. In private practice, Phillips has primarily been engaged in appellate matters, generally in civil matters, although he was a member of the legal team that convinced the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to quash the indictment against Governor Perry.

Rick Perry American politician

James Richard "Rick" Perry is an American politician who was the 14th United States Secretary of Energy, serving in the Cabinet of Donald Trump. Prior to becoming Secretary of Energy, Perry was the 47th Governor of Texas from December 2000 to January 2015. Perry was elected Lieutenant Governor of Texas in 1998 and assumed the governorship in December 2000 when Governor George W. Bush resigned to become president. Perry is the longest-serving governor in Texas history.

Wallace B. Jefferson American judge

Wallace Bernard Jefferson is a 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 LLP as a name partner and now practices appellate law.

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) is the court of last resort for all criminal matters in the State of Texas, United States. The Court, which is based in the Supreme Court Building in Downtown Austin, is composed of a Presiding Judge and eight judges.

Phillips graduated Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas, Texas; Baylor University in Waco, Texas; and Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He holds honorary degrees from Texas Tech University and St. Mary's University.

Waco, Texas City in Texas, United States

Waco is a city in central Texas and is the county seat of McLennan County, Texas, United States. It is situated along the Brazos River and I-35, halfway between Dallas and Austin. The city had a 2010 population of 124,805, making it the 22nd-most populous city in the state. The 2018 US Census population estimate is 138,183 The Waco Metropolitan Statistical Area consists of McLennan and Falls Counties, which had a 2010 population of 234,906. Falls County was added to the Waco MSA in 2013. The 2018 US Census population estimate for the Waco MSA is 271,942.

Harvard Law School law school in Cambridge

Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1817, it is the oldest continuously operating law school in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world. It is ranked first in the world by the QS World University Rankings and the ARWU Shanghai Ranking.

Cambridge, Massachusetts City in Massachusetts, United States

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In May 2011, Phillips and his wife privately settled a wrongful death lawsuit in which they had been accused of having permitted minors to consume alcohol at their home in Bastrop, Texas. After a party in 2009 at the Phillips residence allegedly hosted, according to the Associated Press, by their then 20-year-old son, Audrey King, a 17-year-old passenger who had been a Phillips guest, was killed in a traffic accident after leaving their home. Her parents sued; in their answer to the suit, the Phillipses said that they had no knowledge that the girl had been at their home or that minors were drinking there. [1]

Bastrop, Texas City in Texas, United States

Bastrop is a city and the county seat of Bastrop County, Texas, United States. Located about 30 mi (48 km) southeast of Austin, it is part of the Greater Austin metropolitan area. The population was 7,218 according to the 2010 census.

Associated Press American multinational nonprofit news agency

The Associated Press (AP) is a U.S.-based not-for-profit news agency headquartered in New York City. Founded in 1846, it operates as a cooperative, unincorporated association. Its members are U.S. newspapers and broadcasters.

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  1. "Texas,' producer could be liable for cast members' deaths". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal . Retrieved August 18, 2013.
Legal offices
Preceded by
John L. Hill, Jr.
Texas Supreme Court Justice,
Chief Justice

Succeeded by
Wallace B. Jefferson