Retired Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Jack Pope pioneered the promulgation of ethics rules and professional education for Texas judges. Throughout his notable career, he has embodied the highest ideals and elevated the profession. When he became a state district judge in 1946 in Corpus Christi, he soon realized that there was little formal material available about proper judicial behavior, so he began to educate himself on the philosophy of law and the ethics of judging.
In 1950, he was elected to the San Antonio Court of Appeals, where he served as an associate justice for 14 years. There, he continued his efforts to educate himself on ethics and professionalism, occasionally finding continuing education courses or seminars for judges in distant states. In an effort to educate his colleagues, he took it upon himself to write and lecture throughout Texas on these subjects.
In 1964, Judge Pope was elected an associate justice of the Supreme Court of Texas. Soon thereafter, the New York University School of Law began holding regular summer courses in judicial education for state supreme court justices from around the country, and Texas Chief Justice Robert Calvert asked Justice Pope to attend from Texas and report back to the court.
Soon, Judge Pope was asked to spearhead an effort with the State Bar of Texas to provide and require continuing education for all Texas judges, and to promulgate related ethics rules for the same group. His efforts culminated in both compulsory continuing judicial education and the adoption of The Texas Code of Judicial Conduct in 1974 by the Supreme Court of Texas.
In 1982, Associate Justice Pope was appointed by the governor to the position as the court’s Chief Justice, where he served until his retirement in 1985.
In 1989, Chief Justice Pope and former Chief Justices Robert W. Calvert and Joe R. Greenhill founded The Texas Center for Legal Ethics as an independent, non-profit corporation to promote the values contained in the Texas Lawyers’ Creed of Professionalism. Given his pivotal role in the formation of the Center, it is apt and fitting that he is the inaugural member of The Ethicists. His career and achievements reflect the highest standards and provide aspiration and inspiration for our profession.