Texas Judicial Foundation – The Beginning
Having served as a trial judge for more than 30 years and the Administrative Judge for the Third Administrative Region for nearly 20 years, I have taken an avid interest in the state of education of the Texas judiciary. Over the years, I and many of my colleagues have struggled with the need to provide Texas judges with the very best in judicial education. Our overriding goal has always been to provide Texas citizens the most educated judiciary possible that is able to administer quality justice. As a consequence, we have worked tirelessly to improve judicial education. I have been involved as a faculty member and as Chair for the Texas Center for the Judiciary, served as President and in other roles with the National Judicial College, and have served various other regional and national organizations. My vision has always been to improve and expand judicial education opportunities.
Funding for judicial education has always been a challenge. Since its founding in the 1970s, the Texas Center for the Judiciary has been tasked to provide judicial education. Initially, state and local bar organizations combined funds with county funds in order to provide stable funding. Next, judicial education was funded by LEAA grants from the federal government. After LEAA grants were phased out, the current source of judicial education funding for the Center, Fund 540, was created. Despite changes fundraising sources over the years, the Center has developed a reputation for education excellence. TCJ continues to affirm its mission:
“The Texas Center for the Judiciary is the primary provider of specialized judicial education and training opportunities for Texas appellate, district, and county court at law judges. Above all, the staff of the Texas Center steadfastly pursues its mission, Judicial Excellence Through Education, by providing leadership in education and training so that a qualified and knowledgeable judiciary and staff may administer justice with fairness, efficiency and integrity.”
Funding has been a constant challenge for the Texas Center. Grant funds come with a variety of restrictions, which can change over time and limit the use of funds. These limitations restrict the ability of the Center to develop new programs or offer programs which are outside the funding guidelines of a grant.
The judicial leadership has always struggled with how to bring additional resources to educate our Texas judiciary. So imagine a supplemental and independent resource center dedicated to supporting and enhancing the education, leadership and professional development of our judicial community. In 2008, we created the Texas Judicial Foundation, a registered 501c3 non-profit organization to provide this service. TJFs mission:
“The Texas Judicial Foundation is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the goal of establishing a more informed and innovative judicial system within the State of Texas.”
The Foundation is the culmination of years of hard work by me and many of my colleagues.
Please join me in ensuring the success of the Foundation. Our funding will come from private sources, and your tax-deductible contribution is always welcome. Together we can ensure our judges’ efforts to provide Texans with the best in judicial service.
Texas Judicial Foundation
In my 48 years of practicing law in Texas, I have had the opportunity to appear before courts throughout Texas and a few other states. What has always been the common denominator in all of those cases is the level of judicial leadership exercised by our Texas judges. Judges in Texas are among the most competent and highly educated in the nation. However, because of the volume of reported cases and the constantly changing statutory law, in-depth education identifying those modifications and training judges to deal with these changes is vital. The need is especially great with recently elected and appointed judges.
The Texas Judicial Foundation was created for exactly that purpose – to ensure that Texas judges have access to quality education no matter what the political climate and to provide a source of impartial funding from the legal profession generally and from a cross-section of our citizens. The more competent and educated our judges are, the better our citizens and lawyers will be served in the Texas judicial process.
In this time of early existence of the Foundation, the Foundation is preparing to grow in providing education and superb training for our judiciary. I am asking all attorneys join me in supporting its work.
Spivey & Grigg, LLP
State Bar of Texas Past President
Dear Fellow Member of the Bar:
In the early 1990s I had the great honor of serving as Mayor of Lubbock. During that same period and over the last 30 years, I also practiced law in and outside of Texas in both the State and Federal courts. These two occupations allowed me the opportunity to interact with many different judges, as well as the citizens who turn to them for help. These experiences have caused me to conclude that educated judges and the system of justice they administer is one of the greatest bulwarks of freedom we have. They touch so many lives, and their decisions lend stability to our way of life, and civility to the way we resolve disputes. Knowledgeable judges play a vital role in every successful community.
That’s why for the past two years it has been my pleasure to serve as the Chairman of the Board of the Texas Judicial Foundation. The Foundation is a unique non-profit enterprise that has as its mission giving judges in our state the tools they need to effectively and efficiently administer justice. These first few years have been focused on putting in place the organizational structure of the corporation, explaining to the Bar, the judiciary and the private sector about why judicial education and training is important and forging partnerships with existing associations to make sure we are not duplicating efforts.
Now it is imperative that we take the organization to a higher level of visibility and begin raising significant funds to support the education opportunities we envision for judges. While it is always a challenge to raise funds, the current economic climate makes the task a little more difficult. However, with the commitment of members of the Bar – and the support of the judiciary – we can reach our goals. Please join us in these efforts, and feel free to use this web- site as a means to communicate to us your thoughts and ideas about how we should pursue our objectives.
In good times and bad, we can do nothing that makes more of a difference in people’s lives than providing resources to assist Texas judges in having access to the best educational opportunities available. The Texas Judicial Foundation is working to make those opportunities available. I hope you will join me in giving it our full support.
David R. Langston,
Mullin Hoard & Brown, L.L.P.