Wallace Jefferson has twice made history as the first African American Justice and Chief Justice on the Supreme Court of Texas. Governor Perry appointed Jefferson to the Court in 2001, making him the Governor's first appointment to a statewide judicial office. Justice Jefferson was elected in 2002 with 60% of the vote in the contested Republican primary, and 56% of the vote in the contested general election. In 2004, Governor Perry promoted him to Chief Justice. In 2006, Chief Justice Jefferson earned more votes than any other non-federal candidate for statewide office.
Wallace Jefferson is the son of Retired Air Force Major William D. Jefferson and Joyce Jefferson of San Antonio, Texas. He graduated from John Jay High School in 1981, received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Philosophy from James Madison College at Michigan State University in 1985, and earned his Juris Doctor degree in 1988 from the University of Texas School of Law. He is board certified in civil appellate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Chief Justice Jefferson developed an early interest in 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 quickly earned a reputation for appellate excellence. 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.
This Fall, Michigan State University will honor Chief Justice Jefferson as its Outstanding Alumnus. In 2005, the University of Texas School of Law honored Chief Justice Jefferson with its Outstanding Alumnus Award. He received the James Madison College Distinguished Alumnus award in 2002. He was President of the San Antonio Bar Association in 1998 and the William S. Sessions American Inn of Court in 1999. Chief Justice Jefferson was recognized as a Pillar of the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio. In 2007, Chief Justice Jefferson's parents greeted students at the new "Wallace B. Jefferson" Middle School in San Antonio.
Chief Justice Jefferson has served on the Supreme Court of Texas Advisory Committee, the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct and was chair of the host committee for the 2000 Fifth Circuit Judicial Conference. He has lectured across the country on appellate advocacy and received national recognition from the American Bar Association for his 2001 speech celebrating Law Day.
Chief Justice Jefferson's wife of fifteen years, Rhonda, is a former public school teacher. They have three sons: William Douglas (13), Samuel Lewis (11) and Michael Andrew (8).