The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals celebrated its 125-year anniversary with a celebration in its courtroom on Thursday.

“For a moment, consider what it was like in 1891,” Presiding Judge Sharon Keller said, listing off the differences between the year the court was established and more than a century later to the former judges, briefing attorneys, and others gathered for the occasion.

The court of last resort for all criminal cases sits at equal footing with the Texas Supreme Court, which has the final say on civil matters. Texas and Oklahoma are the only U.S. states with such a dual high-court system.

IMG_7298With the current nine judges sitting on the bench, past judges shared stories about the history of the court and reminisced about their memories from their time serving.

“Those 15 months I spent in this building changed my life,” Michael J. McCormick, who served on the court from 1981 to 2000, 11 years as presiding judge, said at the ceremony, referring to his stint as a briefing attorney for the court at the start of his legal career.

Former Presiding Judge John Frank “Jack” Onion Jr., who served on the court from 1967 to 1988, heading the court for 17 years, summed up his experience on the court with a Vikki Carr song lyric: “It only takes a tiny corner of this great big world to make a place you love.”

“Well, this is the place I love,” Onion said.


Read more about the court’s history in the Texas Bar Journal and view more photos from Thursday’s celebration.