The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957 Page: 7
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A History of the Civil Courts in Texas
pronounced the famous dogma, homely but historic, "If the
State has to go to hell, let it go to hell by law." In Texas Land
Company vs. Williams,' Chief Justice Roberts gave a working
model for the guidance of the legal profession in the preparation
of briefs under the then existing Rules of the Supreme Court;
for many years this decision was a valuable aid to lawyers in the
important work of briefing cases in the superior courts.'4 His
interpretation of the rule in the Shelly's Case1" (an ancient
English case of great importance in the law), in which he held
that in a deed made to a person for the term of his natural life,
and, at death, to his lawful issue forever, the words "lawful is-
sue" are words of purchase and not of limitation, was approved
by several law journals and reviews.'' In his later years the
former judge and governor became a law professor at the Uni-
versity of Texas where he was affectionately known as the "Old
Alcalde" and through his students, continued to exert his in-
fluence on law and lawyers.
While the men who drafted the judicial provisions of the
Constitution of 1876 presumed that reducing the Supreme
Court's jurisdiction to major civil cases would relieve the con-
gestion of the court, by 1879 it became apparent that the ap-
pellate courts were inadequate. The docket of the Supreme
Court was so burdened that in 1879 the legislature created a
Commission of Appeals to determine cases pending in the Su-
preme Court and the Court of Appeals when the parties involved
would consent. When this measure did not bring about the
needed relief, both courts were authorized to refer cases to the
commission without the consent of the parties concerned. In
1879 only one commission of three members was established,
but by i891 when this stop-gap measure was abandoned, there
were three commissions."'
When Governor Roberts appointed John W. Stayton to the
Supreme Court in 1881, many lawyers and politicians throughout
1sTexas Supreme Court Reports, LI, 51.
14J. H. Davenport, The History of the Supreme Court of the State of Texas
(Austin, 1917), 135-136.
ilAn example of the rule in Shelly's Case may be found in Texas Supreme Court
Reports, XXI, 804.
toJames D. Lynch, The Bench and Bar of Texas (St. Louis, 1885), 28o-281.
17Williams, "Court Procedure in Texas," Texas Law Review, V, 178.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957, periodical, 1957; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101163/m1/19/: accessed June 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.