The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957 Page: 8
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
the state had never heard of the newly appointed justice. In
reply to the frequently asked question, "Who is he?" Governor
Roberts replied, "You do not know him now, but when he has
served on the court for a while, you will know him without the
necessity of an introduction.""' Truly this quiet country lawyer
was to make a place for himself in the annals of Texas history.
He served as an associate justice until i888, and from then until
the time of his death in 1894 he served as chief justice. Long
after his death Stayton was chosen by four-fifths of the judges
and lawyers in the state as the judge whose services on the court
had meant most to the people of Texas.l9 In Ball, Hutchings,
and Company vs. Lowell,20 Stayton wrote a famous dissenting
opinion in which he made a concise statement on a question
which confronts many judges: whether their individual notions
of equity and their personal view of justice involved or the
exact intent of the law making body should rule a decision. He
The whole matter was one for legislative discretion, which we
must presume has been exercised wisely; but whether so or not, I
have a deep conviction that I have no right to dispose of the ques-
tion in accordance with my own sense of abstract right or equity,
if the same be in conflict with the expressed intention of the Legis-
lature. If the spirit of the law be bad, let it be repealed by that
department of the government whose duty it is to make and repeal
Alec Phillips, a Negro who for fifty years was porter at the
Supreme Court, was tremendously devoted to Judge Stayton and
had great respect for his stature as a jurist. Around the Capitol,
Alec was frequently heard to say, "When Judge Stayton say it,
it's de law."
In 1891 the appellate courts had such a backlog of unheard
cases that the Supreme Court could not care for all civil appeals.
It was necessary either to limit appeals drastically or to provide
additional courts for their determination. After an unsuccessful
attempt to amend the Constitution in 1878, an 1891 proposal
lSDavenport, History of the Supreme Court in Texas, 149.
2oTexas Supreme Court Records, LVI, 579.
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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/m1/20/: accessed January 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.