Baylor Graduate Appointed to State High Court

News Photo 3101
Gov. Rick Perry introduces his newest appointee to the Texas Supreme Court, Don Willett of Austin. Willett, holding his son, Jacob, shakes hands with Attorney General Greg Abbott. To Willett's left are his wife, Tiffany, and mother, Doris. (Photo by Art Aubry, Shooting Star Photography)
Aug. 25, 2005

by Alan Hunt (254) 710-6271

Baylor graduate and former adviser to President Bush, Don R. Willett of Austin, has been appointed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to fill the vacancy on the Texas Supreme Court created by the recent confirmation of Baylor law graduate Justice Priscilla Owen to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Willett, 39, will serve on the nine-member Texas Supreme Court for the coming year and then will have to run for election in November 2006. He received his undergraduate degree from Baylor in 1988 and a master's degree and law degree from Duke University.

He has served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States, an adviser to President Bush, and currently as chief legal counsel to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. He also is a member of the State Bar of Texas, the First Amendment Institute and serves on the advisory board of the Federalist Society. Willett is on Baylor's National Steering Committee for the Bush Presidential Library and the state steering committee for the Texas Review of Law and Politics.

He was sworn in by Gov. Perry on Wednesday morning, Aug. 24, during a ceremony in Austin. Gov. Perry said, "Don Willett has earned the trust of the President of the United States, the Attorney General of Texas, and my confidence as governor because he is a hard worker, a bright scholar, and strict constructionist who understands the role of a judge is to interpret and apply the law, not create it from the bench. By virtue of the fact that Don Willett has valuable experience enforcing our laws in the public sector and a reputation for taking a thoughtful, scholarly approach to the law, he will make an outstanding justice on the Texas Supreme Court."

Perry said Willett joins a long and distinguished list of previous justices whose appointment to a high court was the first time they put on the robe, including Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson of the Texas Supreme Court, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist of the United States Supreme Court.

"His appointment will allow the court to benefit not only from his unique combination of skills and expertise but also a more diverse array of professional backgrounds."

Active in the community, Willett serves on the boards of the National Fatherhood Institute, SafePlace and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas.

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