St. Mary's Law Journal
Judge Wayne Justice had a deep impact on the lives of many people and was an unyielding advocate who protected the rights of all U.S. citizens. Many of the Judge’s orders and consent decrees forced Texas to comply with more stringent federal requirements in education and health care and had a far reaching effect across the nation. Judge Justice presided over Doe v. Plyler that ensured the benefit of public education for the children of undocumented immigrants. In United States v. Texas, Judge Justice required that the Texas Education Agency monitor school district actions and policies to assure that they are in compliance with the integrational mandates of the United States Supreme Court. He recognized the importance of supporting students who lacked proficiency in English by providing a court order that required Texas to develop bilingual support for non-English speaking students. Graves v. Barnes allowed minority communities to elect their own representatives, thereby guaranteeing that the Texas legislature would be more accountable to minority communities.
Judge Justice found the Texas prison system to be “cruel and unusual punishment” and the juvenile justice system insufficient to protect the rights of its wards. He demanded well researched and thorough records to support decisions that would be scrutinized by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. Many of his opinions were upheld and some reversed, but a definitive record always supported his decisions advocating for the definitive rights of all citizens of the United States.
Albert H. Kauffman, Judge Wayne Justice: A Life of Human Dignity and Refractory Mules, 41 St. Mary’s L.J. 215 (2009).