The Texas Appellate Hall of Fame
The Texas Appellate Hall of Fame recognizes a distinguished group of judges, attorneys and court personnel who have made unique contributions to the practice of appellate law in Texas from the mid-1850’s to present day. The State Bar of Texas Appellate Section and the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society established the award in 2011 to recognize appellate attorneys, judges and court personnel for their efforts, results, intellect and sacrifice to Texas citizens. As a result, they jointly created the Texas Appellate Hall of Fame to honor these individuals.
Chief Justice Robert W. Calvert
Chief Justice Robert W. Calvert was an influential lawyer, politician, jurist, and scholar.
Born in 1905 in Tennessee, Calvert had a Dickensian childhood. After his father died in 1912, his destitute mother moved to Texas and, in 1913, placed her children in the State Orphans Home in Corsicana. Calvert remained in the Orphans Home for ten years, fighting hunger and barely surviving an influenza epidemic in 1918.
After graduating from the University of Texas Law School in 1931, Calvert began his law practice in Hillsboro, Texas. Calvert also was a successful politician. He served three terms in the Texas House of Representative, and became Speaker of the House in 1937. In the 1940s, he served as Hillsboro City Attorney, Hill County Attorney, and as president of the Hillsboro Independent School District.
Calvert practiced both as a trial lawyer and as an appellate lawyer. In 1950 he successfully ran for a position as an associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court. He served on the court for 22 years, including the last eleven as chief justice. He wrote 378 opinions.
Calvert was a strong believer in the rule of law, advocating that the law should remain stable and predictable. For many appellate attorneys today, he is best remembered as one of the architects of the standards of review in Texas. His 1960 article, "No Evidence" and "Insufficient Evidence" Points of Error, published in the Texas Law Review, remains one of the seminal articles regarding Texas standards of review.
Chief Justice Joe R. Greenhill
Judge Joe Robert Greenhill served on the Texas Supreme Court for 25 years, ten of those as Chief Justice. His tenure, from 1957 to 1982, was the longest in Texas Supreme Court history, but is most recognized for its lasting impact. His gave the first State of the Judiciary address to the State of Texas in 1979, and called for a reform of the criminal justice administration system. He was influential in passing a 1980 constitutional amendment bringing criminal jurisdiction to the Court of Civil Appeals. He also was instrumental in transforming Texas negligence law by allowing greater alternative dispute resolution.
Greenhill received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Texas. He served as a junior officer in the United States Navy during World War II, first in intelligence and then as executive officer of a mine sweeper in the Pacific Theater. He became Assistant Attorney General of the State of Texas in 1948. It was there that he became involved in perhaps the most well-known case of his career, Sweatt v. Painter, involving the attempt of an African-American to gain admission to The University of Texas School of Law. Thurgood Marshall tried the case against then First Assistant Attorney General Joe Greenhill. Marshall’s experiences throughout the South trying similar cases were stunning for the ignominy he suffered; but Greenhill treated Marshall with the utmost respect and even helped him secure accommodations during the emotional and hard-fought trial. As a result the two became friends.
Upon his retirement from the Texas Supreme Court, Judge Greenhill was President of the Board of Directors for the National Center for State Courts; President for the Conference of Chief Justices; and Vice-Chairman of the Texas Criminal Justice Division Advisory Board. He was Executive Director of the Texas Bar Foundation; former Chairman of the Judicial Section of Texas State Bar and the Bar's Section on Natural Resources; Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation; and Life Member of the American Bar Foundation.
W. James Kronzer, Jr.
Jim Kronzer has been called the "first appellate guru" in Texas and was honored as the "Lawyer of the Century" by the Texas Trial Lawyers Association. He was involved in over 400 appeals and won the highest-stakes appeal in Texas history.
Kronzer was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1920. He was a 1943 graduate of the University of Texas Law School, where he was the Comments Editor of the Law Review. In 1954, he helped found the firm of Hill, Brown, Kronzer, Abraham, Watkins & Steely with former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice John Hill and retired Fourteenth Court of Appeals Justice Curtis Brown. Kronzer later founded his own appellate firm, which may have been the first in Texas.
As President of the Houston Bar Association in 1965, Kronzer was instrumental in ending segregation of the bar. Until his Presidency, the HBA Constitution limited membership to "whites." His first item of business was to remove that clause because, as he said, racism was ridiculous.
Among Kronzer’s many appellate victories was one of the biggest in Texas history. Kronzer represented Pennzoil on appeal in Texaco v. Pennzoil, in which a judgment of over $8 billion was affirmed.
Russell Hugh McMains
Rusty McMains was born in Dallas, Texas and raised in Lancaster. He received a full academic scholarship to the University of Houston, earning a B.S. in the Honors Program in 1968, and in 1971 a J.D. with honors. During college and law school, he found his love for debate, advocacy and jurisprudence, winning the National Championship with the Moot Court team.
After graduating from law school, Rusty joined Fulbright & Jaworski in Houston, and found his calling in appellate work. Soon after, he opened his own firm. Over his 38-year career, he would become one of the most magnificent legal minds and appellate lawyers in Texas. His long-time friend and colleague, Bill Chriss, described Rusty’s legacy:
History will record that Rusty was the greatest Texas appellate lawyer of the twentieth century. He was chair of the appellate law section of the State Bar of Texas, he helped found the insurance law section, and he served with distinction on the Pattern Jury Charge Committee and the Supreme Court Advisory Committee for decades. After several years I figured out that one reason Rusty could so easily turn the tables on our opponents was not just his penchant for intellectual jiu jitsu, but the simple fact that he had actually written most of the rules of the game himself. Especially in the 1980s, his was the winning brief in a long series of watershed decisions by the Texas Supreme Court, decisions that removed archaic burdens and limitations on the rights of ordinary working people to recover damages from large multinational corporations, the rich and powerful: Sanchez v. Schindler, Hofer v. Lavender, Duncan v. Cessna, Bedgood v. Madalin, and a host of others. But he was also sought out by defendants, and perhaps the most fun he ever had as a lawyer was masterminding the salvation of Texaco after it had been hit with the biggest jury verdict in the history of the universe. One reason for this was that he was able to work on the case (and dine and tour New York by limousine) with several of his good friends, including Mike Hatchell and Bill Dorsaneo. My good friend, retired Chief Justice Jack Pope, a man of incredible dignity and intellect, often said that the best oral arguments he ever heard in his 35 years on the appellate bench were Rusty’s.
Rusty was an adjunct professor and debate coach for the University of Houston Law School from 1973-1979 and a Director on the University of Houston Law School Foundation for a number of years.