On September 14, 2004, Wallace Jefferson made Texas history as the first African American Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas. He was first appointed to the Court in 2001 to the seat formerly occupied by United States Attorney General Al Gonzales. Governor Rick Perry promoted him to Chief Justice when Chief Justice Phillips retired after 16 years of distinguished service.
Wallace Jefferson is the son of William Jefferson, a retired United States Air Force major, and Joyce Jefferson of San Antonio, Texas. He graduated from John Jay High School in 1981 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Philosophy from James Madison College at Michigan State University in 1985. He earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1988 from the University of Texas School of Law.
Chief Justice Jefferson developed an early interest in civil appellate law as a student of the late constitutional scholar, Charles Alan Wright.
In 1989, he joined the appellate section of Groce, Locke and Hebdon in San Antonio. He founded his own appellate law firm with Tom Crofts and Sharon Callaway in 1991. Crofts, Callaway and Jefferson soon became one of the preeminent appellate practices in Texas.
Chief Justice Jefferson earned a reputation for appellate excellence at an early stage in his career. He successfully argued two cases before the United States Supreme Court before he turned 40. Decisions in those cases have guided courts nationally in complex areas of civil rights litigation. His experience arguing at the highest court in the land, combined with his advocacy before the Supreme Court of Texas and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, brings a unique and valuable perspective to the bench.
Chief Justice Jefferson served in 2010-2011 as president of the Conference of Chief Justices, an association of chief justices from the 50 states and U.S. territories. Chief Justice Jefferson has received numerous recognitions and awards for his public service and dedication to upholding and carrying out the laws of our land.
The University of Texas School of Law honored Chief Justice Jefferson with its Outstanding Alumnus Award. He has also received the James Madison College Distinguished Alumnus award. He was President of the San Antonio Bar Association and the William S. Sessions American Inn of Court. Chief Justice Jefferson received the “Pillars of the Foundation” award by the Northside Independent School District and is the namesake for the Wallace B. Jefferson Middle School in San Antonio. He has also served as a director of the San Antonio Public Library Foundation, of the Alamo Area Big Brothers/Big Sisters and on the education committee of the San Antonio Area Foundation.
Chief Justice Jefferson and his wife Rhonda have three sons: William Douglas, Samuel Lewis and Michael Andrew. Chief Justice Jefferson’s term end December 31, 2014.