Journal Title

Albany Law Review





First Page


Document Type


Publication Information



During his eight years as Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, Wallace Jefferson has written a number of deeply engaging opinions that illustrate his command of the work required as an appellate judge. His work should be understood in light of the unusual division of appellate power in Texas, as well as the shifting but exclusively Republican composition of the membership of the Supreme Court of Texas during his tenure. Chief Justice Jefferson rarely speaks explicitly of his jurisprudential views, requiring the inquisitive to construct his interpretive manner and style through an evaluation of his implicit assumptions. The best evidence of those views is found not in his opinions for the court, but in his dissenting and concurring opinions.

The following conclusions are made about his work: (1) his opinions reflect a wide knowledge of the law; (2) he is particular about the procedural framework through which the case has reached the Texas Supreme Court; (3) his opinions for a divided court indicate both a pragmatism and a willingness to view the common law more broadly than his dissenting colleagues; and (4) his concurring and dissenting opinions are fully realized jurisprudential efforts, which prepare a path on which a future court may travel. The opinions written by Chief Justice Jefferson seek the “underlying principle” of the law and illuminate a path for that principal. Chief Justice Jefferson justifiably enjoys a strong reputation for sagacity and thoughtfulness. He is a judge in full.

Recommended Citation

Michael Ariens, A Judge in Full: Wallace Jefferson of Texas, 75 ALB. L. REV. 2151 (2011).



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.