Nathan Hecht bigraphy, stories - Texas judge

Nathan Hecht : biography

August 15, 1949 -

Nathan L. Hecht (born August 15, 1949) is the senior justice of the Texas Supreme Court. A Republican, Hecht was first elected to the Supreme Court in 1988. He was reelected in 1994, 2000, and 2006. He secured his fifth six-year term on November 6, 2012. This new term ends on December 31, 2018.


Justice Hecht earned his Bachelor of Arts from Yale University with honors in philosophy and graduated thereafter cum laude from the Southern Methodist University School of Law. He was a law clerk to Judge Roger Robb of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He also served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He practiced law in the area of general litigation with the Dallas firm of Locke Purnell Boren Laney & Neely, and was a shareholder in that firm prior to his appointment to the bench.

While on the District Court, Justice Hecht was the local administrative judge, presiding over all county and district judges in Dallas County and representing them before other branches of government.

He began his judicial service on the 95th District Court of Dallas County, to which he was appointed on September 1, 1981, elected in 1982, and re-elected in 1984. In 1986, he was elected to the Texas Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas at Dallas, where he served until his election to the Supreme Court. Throughout his tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Hecht has been designated to oversee all changes in state court rules.

Miers controversy and aftermath

In the days after the October 3, 2005, nomination of Harriet Miers to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Hecht became nationally known as a strong supporter of White House Counsel Miers based upon his long friendship with her. According to Hecht, he and Miers dated in the past and were members of the same born-again Christian church. Hecht gave 120 interviews in support of the eventually-unsuccessful nomination.

The New York Times has reported that, on the day of Miers' nomination, Hecht participated in a conference call with the Arlington Group, a coalition of Christian Conservatives, assuring them of her pro-life views.

In May 2006 Hecht was admonished by the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct for "an improper use of his office and position to promote Miers's private interest" during the nomination; a three-judge panel exonerated Hecht of the charge after he appealed the decision.

In March 2007, Hecht said that he had asked Texas State Representative Tony Goolsby to propose a bill that would make the state reimburse his $340,000 legal fees, which his lawyers had discounted by $167,500. Goolsby withdrew the bill after learning that Hecht had already been reimbursed for the bill through "donations." Hecht defended his position by saying, “Here is the problem: If judges are sanctioned like this and it’s unjust and it’s wrong and they want to prove it, they can represent themselves or hire a lawyer that you can’t pay for on a judge’s salary.” He is paid $152,500. In December 2008, he was fined $29,000 by the Texas Ethics Commission in connection with the discount, which the Commission ruled was an improper political contribution.

Memberships, awards and community service

Hecht is a member of the American Law Institute, a member of the Texas Philosophical Society, and a fellow of the Texas and American Bar Foundations. He is on the advisory board of the S.M.U. Law Review and was named Outstanding Young Lawyer in 1984 by the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers. Musically talented, Hecht has played organ for his church.

Election of 2012

In the November 6 general election, Hecht polled 4,116,102 votes (53.7 percent), compared to 3,208,479 (41.9) percent for the Democrat Michele Petty. Two minor candidates held the remaining 4.4 percent of the ballots. Hecht lost his own county of Dallas, in which he polled 273,105 votes (40.2 percent), compared to Petty's 382,140 (56.2 percent). However, he won neighboring Tarrant County, which includes Fort Worth.

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