The Honorable Wallace Jefferson, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Texas at Colby College April 1. A public award ceremony and address by Jefferson will take place at 5:30 p.m. in Ostrove Auditorium in the Diamond Building. Events begin with a panel discussion at 4 p.m.
The Brody Award honors an outstanding federal or state judge who embodies the qualities of integrity, compassion, humanity, and judicial craftsmanship. “Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson has been vigorous in advocating for adequate funding for our state courts, fair access to justice, quality defense for the indigent, and nonpartisan judicial selection, while remaining an approachable and active member of his community,” said U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn, who nominated him for the award. “His examples of careful scholarship, the highest integrity, hard work and openness have done much to improve the support of the public and legislative bodies for our courts.”
After graduating law school, Jefferson began working at Groce, Locke and Hebdon in San Antonio. In 1991 he founded Crofts, Callaway and Jefferson appellate law firm with Tom Crofts and Sharon Callaway. Developing a reputation for excellence, Jefferson successfully argued two cases before the Supreme Court before turning 35, a distinction held by only one percent of lawyers. In 2001 Jefferson’s appointment made him the first African American to sit on the Texas Supreme Court and the first to serve as that court’s chief justice.
The 4 p.m. panel discussion will focus on pros and cons of electing, as opposed to appointing, state judges. Panelists include Hon. Barbara Lynn; Jed Shugerman, assistant professor of law at Harvard Law School; James Sample, associate professor of law at Hofstra Law School; and Dmitry Bam, associate professor of law at University of Maine School of Law.
Jefferson, a graduate of Michigan State University and the University of Texas School of Law, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree from Colby with the Brody Award. He is the seventh recipient of the award, following Nancy Gertner (2010), Leonie M. Brinkema (2008), Frank M. Coffin (2006), Richard Sheppard Arnold (2004), Ann Claire Williams (2002), and Guido Calabresi (2001).
The award is named for the late Judge Morton A. Brody, who taught at Colby and was the husband of retired Associate Dean of Admissions Judith Levine Brody ’58. The event is sponsored by the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Colby College. Founded in 2003, the Goldfarb Center brings faculty and students together with local, state, national, and international leaders to explore creative, interdisciplinary approaches to the complex challenges facing today’s world.