“For those who can afford it, we have a top-notch legal system,” said Wallace B. Jefferson, the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, on March 6th.
He was speaking in the state House of Representatives, to a joint session of the House and Senate. By law, the Texas legislature hears from the state’s top judge during every regular session. Jefferson was appointed chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court in 2004, so it was his fifth “state of the judiciary” address, and perhaps his most ambitious.
This year’s address raised some points that longtime watchers might have remembered from previous sessions. Jefferson has long been concerned with juvenile justice, for example, and he raised that issue again this year. “We are criminalizing our children for nonviolent offenses,” he said, offering the startling statistic that the state issues some 300,000 tickets in public schools each year.
The chief justice was, however, more forceful than he has been in the past. In 2011 he said that he was “calling for action” (PDF). On Wednesday, he described his speech as “a call to arms.”