“It’s a pretty remarkable group of women, and I’m just proud to be in their company,” O’Neill says. “I worked very hard at the court to improve the justice system in several ways. I was glad to see that work honored or acknowledged.”
O’Neill, an Austin solo, was elected to the Texas Supreme Court in 1998, and she retired from the court in 2010. She notes she focused on improving legal services for people who can’t afford lawyers and improving child welfare and child protection courts, among other things.
“I’m very happy Justice O’Neill was chosen. I think it’s very fitting,” says Carol Peterson, chairwoman of the Governor’s Commission for Women. “I know about her career. I’m glad she’s being honored.”
Lesley Guthrie, the commission’s executive director, says the commission receives nominations for the Women’s Hall of Fame and forwards them to judges who complete “score sheets” to choose the inductees.
Guthrie says some of the judges commented on O’Neill’s score sheets that she “transformed” how the state addresses the needs of foster care children and that her efforts protected the poor, abused women and children.
O’Neill and four other women will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Oct. 12 at Texas Woman’s University in Denton.
-- Angela Morris