Retired Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Jack Pope, the longest living state chief justice in U.S. history, was honored Thursday by the Texas House of Representatives on his 100th birthday. State Rep. Dan Branch, who was a law clerk for Pope in 1983-84, introduced him at the ceremony and sponsored a resolution celebrating Pope’s life and career.
Other jurists, including current and former members of the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals, also attended the afternoon ceremony. Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson spoke at the event, calling Pope “a remarkable jurist and an even more remarkable man.”
Jefferson and Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht read numerous letters congratulating Pope on his 100th birthday, including from President Barack Obama, former U.S. presidents, and Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Pope spoke briefly at the event, thanking those in attendance for honoring him.
Pope began his 38-year career as a Texas jurist in 1946 when he was appointed to a district court bench in Nueces County at the age of 33. In 1950, voters elected him to serve on the San Antonio Court of Civil Appeals. Pope was elected to the Texas Supreme Court in 1964, where he served as a justice and then chief justice, until he retired in 1985.
During his career, Pope had numerous noteworthy accomplishments, including the establishment of formal judicial education for Texas judges, a judicial ethics code, state water rights, and reforming and simplifying how cases are pleaded and tried.