Judge Carl O. Bue, Jr. Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Law

Oct 11, 2017 | EPS/EPF

To me the trial of a case with significant issues and able lawyers was a wonderful thing to behold. It was drama at its finest, played out within strict procedural guidelines and consistent with established legal precedent. Contrary to the lawyers, the judge does not experience the ecstasy of victory or the agony of defeat, but rather the satisfaction of seeing a case properly tried, both factually and legally, and reaching a just result which will stand up on appeal.”

A distinguished maritime lawyer and law professor, Carl O. Bue, J.D. ’54, was nominated to the District Court by President Nixon and appointed in 1970. He had never expressed an interest in politics. He was later to decline three opportunities to serve on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in order to stay close to his family.

 Mary Bue and Judge Bue

In 1972, Judge Bue presided over a landmark case in which prisoners brought a suit claiming that incarceration conditions in the Harris County Jail – overcrowding, inadequate medical care, and unhealthy living conditions – violated their constitutional rights. He issued a contempt order against Harris County and, after appeals, the issue was ultimately resolved with the construction of a new facility.

Known for the quality of his writing and the breadth of his knowledge, Judge Bue conducted himself with decorum and believed in a strict, no-nonsense application of the law. He was held in high regard by the legal community, even by those on the losing side. In an interview with the Houston Post, a colleague said of him, “He can’t be stuck in any ideological mold because no label would do him justice. He just follows what the law says.”

Interviewed by the Houston Chronicle on the occasion of the judge’s retirement, U.S. District Clerk Jessie Clark said, “What is right is what he adhered to. I’m going to miss his stability, his dispassionate pursuit of justice.” Judge Bue retired from the bench in 1987.

The Judge Carl O. Bue, Jr. Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Law was established on August 11, 1988, with funds donated by Law clerks, colleagues, family, and friends. At a retirement event Judge Bue said, “I know there will be times when I will wish I were back.” His legacy is assured at the Law School, where a plaque reads, “It is determined that his name shall be forever honored through the perpetuation of this endowed scholarship.”

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