Senior U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice, whose rulings led to prison reforms in Texas and the desegregation of the state’s public schools, died Tuesday in Austin, according to his law clerk, Kelly Davis. Justice was 89. Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project in Austin, says Justice had been in ill health for several months. Harrington describes Justice as a “giant” of civil rights and human rights in this state. “He’s probably done more than anybody for civil rights and human rights in Texas,” Harrington says. Davis says Justice became a judge in the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division, in 1968. Then-President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Justice to the federal bench. Davis says Justice became a senior judge in 1998 and moved to Austin. Two cases are the hallmark of Justice’s career as a federal district judge. In 1970’s United States v. Texas Education Agency, Justice ordered the TEA to desegregate the state’s public schools. In 1980, Justice ordered sweeping changes in the state’s prison system in Ruiz v. Estelle, et al. Davis says a memorial service for Justice is set for 10 a.m. on Monday Oct. 19 at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 304 E. Seventh St. in Austin.
-- Mary Alice Robbins