Hon. Henry E. Doyle

Justice Doyle was a giant in the law. Not only was he the first Black law student to enroll at a state law school in Texas, he was the state’s first Black law school graduate. He was a classmate of Heman Sweatt’s and was mentioned in the eventual landmark United States Supreme Court opinion bearing Sweatt’s name that desegregated law schools across the country. Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629, 633 (1950). He was the first graduate of what would become the Thurgood Marshall School of Law—one of just eight HBCU law schools in the country. Five years after being licensed, Justice Doyle was one of the founders in 1955 of the Houston Lawyers Association (now an affiliate chapter of the National Bar Association), which was the only local bar alternative for Black lawyers in Houston who were prevented from joining the Houston Bar Association at the time. In 1978, he became the first Black appellate justice in Texas history when he was appointed to the First District Court of Appeals in Houston where he served with distinction until his retirement in 1984. He now achieves one final well-deserved “first”—becoming the first Black honoree in the Texas Appellate Hall of Fame.

 

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