The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957 Page: 11
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A History of the Civil Courts in Texas
long string to a particularly heavy tome of the law. When the
absent-minded Judge Brown, following his usual custom, placed
the pencil in his pocket the great book crashed on his toe. The
dignity of the court suffered a blow, but Judge Brown carried
off no more pencils.
The same Judge Brown was the victim of failing eyesight
during his declining years. At length, he was forced to replace
his cane with a tall staff like a shepherd's crook. Carrying this
and a lantern on his nightly walks about the Capitol grounds
he was a veritable picture of Father Time himself. Austin
watched the venerable eccentric with gentle amusement.
For a number of years after the judicial reorganization of
1891, the Supreme Court was able to render speedy decisions,
but gradually, because of more litigation brought about by an
enlarged population and because of the increased original juris-
diction assigned to it by legislative act, the Supreme Court again
fell behind in its work. From 1918 to 1945, the legislature peri-
odically established Commissions of Appeals composed of three
members each. The judges who sat on these commissions were
appointed by the Supreme Court.28
From 1918 to 1943, there were two Commissions of Appeals,
called Section A and Section B. During the 1930's with two sec-
tions of the Commission of Appeals aiding the Supreme Court,
it was still from three to five years behind with its dockets.
A unique chapter in Texas judicial history was added in Janu-
ary of 1925. Governor Pat Neff appointed Hortense Ward,
Hattie L. Henenberg, and Ruth V Brazzil to the only all-woman
court which ever sat in Texas, or perhaps in any other state.27
These three women lawyers were appointed to a special Supreme
Court to hear the case of W. T Johnson et al. vs. J. M. Darr
et al.,28 the latter being trustees for the Woodmen of the World.
The case called in question the scope of operation of the state law
on the registration of deeds and trust agreements. The regular
28Ex-Governor Dan Moody believes the exact function of these commissions was
to pass on matters of fact rather than matters of law. On the other hand, Everett
L. Looney points out that the Supreme Court could accept or reject any opinion
handed down by the Commissions of Appeals. Since the Supreme Court could say
"no evidence," he believes they were also given power to rule on matters of law.
270cie Speer, Texas Jurists (Austin, 1936), 729.
28Texas Supreme Court Reports, CXIV, 516.
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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/m1/23/: accessed August 16, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.