Austin Program Celebrates Investiture of Baylor Law Grad to Appellate Court
by Alan Hunt, (254) 710-6271
Hundreds of members of the judiciary and the legal profession across Texas and the nation attended a Feb. 3 program at the Austin Convention Center marking the formal investiture of Baylor law graduate Justice Priscilla Owen to the bench of the New Orleans-based United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. A former Waco resident, Justice Owen is currently the highest ranking Baylor member of the judiciary.
Assisted by her mother, Mrs. Phyllis Derrick, Justice Owen donned her robes of office after taking the oath administered by Justice Edith H. Jones, chief judge of the U.S. Fifth Court of Appeals. The capacity audience included many members of Justice Owen's family and relatives, along with former classmates and faculty members from Baylor Law School. As she made her way to the platform at the start of the program, Justice Owen paused to embrace 90-year-old Professor Emeritus Ed Horner, one of her professors during her student years at Baylor Law School.
Born in Palacios and raised in Waco, Justice Owen received her bachelor of arts degree cum laude from Baylor in 1976 and graduated in the top of her class from Baylor Law School in 1977. She has been honored as a Baylor Young Lawyer of the Year and as a Baylor Outstanding Young Alumna. On Jan. 20 this year, she received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Baylor Alumni Association, the organization's highest honor.
Elected to the Supreme Court of Texas in 1994, and re-elected in 2000, Justice Owen previously served as a partner in the Houston law firm of Andrews & Kurth L.L.P., where she practiced commercial litigation for 17 years. Nominated by President Bush for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, she was confirmed by the Senate in May last year and took the oath of office for her new seat on June 6, 2005.
Among speakers at Friday's ceremony were U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, Kim J. Askew of the American Bar Association, and Brittan L. Buchanan of the Federal Bar Association. A formal commission was presented to Justice Owen by Grant Dixton, associate counsel to the president.
Baylor student Keron Jackson, a music major, sang during the investiture program and received a standing ovation from the audience. Justice Owen asked him to sing after she heard him perform a solo at the recent funeral of fellow Baylor law graduate and respected Waco jurist, Judge Bill Logue, who passed away Oct. 12, 2005.