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With a name like Justice, what more appropriate profession than judge? And William Wayne Justice has been dispensing it for decades.
The man at the forefront of the Hearne v. Mumford debate first took to the district court bench after an appointment by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968. And early on, he made history.
In 1970, Justice enacted what has become simply known as Number 5281, the desegregation of Texas schools. "No student in Texas will be effectively excluded from equal educational opportunities based on race, color or national origin," he wrote. It was a decision that drew threats on his life from those resistant to change.
Justice stayed busy in the 70s, this time on the topic of the Texas prison system. Ruiz v. Estelle lasted until 1980, the longest running prisoners lawsuit in US history. Inmates banded together in protest of what they thought was unethical treatment, and Justice agreed. His ruling forced prisons to reduce overcrowding and improve their treatment and conditions.
Now, more than three decades later, Justice's first major ruling is back at the forefront. Although he has achieved senior status with the district court in Tyler, he still takes the occasional case, especially those pertaining to his most important rulings.