The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004 Page: 344
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
which tries to tie together social and economic developments into a market
economy in the late 18oos, would have added another dimension to the
causative factors of Texan violence listed in the book. This volume has the mak-
ings of a fine study; but it is still a work in progress.
Jamestown Community College, New York HaroldJ. WeissJr.
The Rise of Judicial Management in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas,
1955-2ooo. By Steven Harmon Wilson. (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia
Press, 2003. Pp. xiv+559. Acknowledgments, list of abbreviations, notes, se-
lected bibliography, index. ISBN o-8203-2363-2. $64.95, cloth.)
This book's cumbersome title ill serves it in two ways: by discouraging poten-
tial readers, who may misconstrue it as a treatise on the ponderous subject of
court administration, and by failing to announce the availability of a modern his-
tory of this important federal court.
The Southern District, one of four districts in Texas, encompasses a band of
coastal and inland counties from just west of Louisiana to the Rio Grande Valley.
Houston, where most of the court's judges sit, dominates the district. District
judges are the trial bench of the federal system, and each typically carries a
heavy criminal and civil caseload, which may include specialized admiralty and
bankruptcy litigation. Federal judges enjoy lifetime tenure and great prestige.
Due to population growth, the border, economic swings, and a litigious tri-
ethnic society, the Southern District has long carried one of the nation's heaviest
dockets. A primary theme of this book is how that docket has shifted to "public"
litigation rather than resolution of private disputes.
The Rise of Judicial Management studies half a dozen fields of litigation that have
dominated the courthouse since 1955. The author provides biographical sketch-
es of the district's judges, whose number increased from four in 1955 to nine-
teen in 2ooo, and a more comprehensive study of several prominent judges. The
book's 'judicial management" component chronicles periodic docket realloca-
tion and the evolution of plea bargains and sentencing over several decades.
No issue presented greater challenges to Southern District judges than school
desegregation after Brown v. Board of Education. Wilson devotes two of eight chap-
ters to the court-managed integration of Houston ISD and other schools, with a
focus on the changing nature of Hispanic desegregation claims. Mexican-Ameri-
cans had long endured substandard, de facto segregated schools, but they origi-
nally relied on "due process" claims to gain access to Anglo schools. Viewed by
Texas law as "whites," Hispanics did not originally invoke Brown's race-based con-
stitutional guaranty of "equal protection." Some school boards responded by
"desegregating" black and Hispanic students in formerly one-race schools, leav-
ing Anglo schools intact. Attorneys representing South Texas Hispanics eventual-
ly gained them equal protection as a distinct racial and ethnic group, a position
that contributed to political awareness as well as educational opportunity.
Other chapters address burgeoning drug and immigration caseloads in bor-
der counties, expanding remedies for injured seamen, federal civil rights prose-
cution of Houston police officers during the Carter Administration, and the
litigation morass spawned by the 198os "savings and loan" crisis. One consistent
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004, periodical, 2004; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/m1/388/: accessed May 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.