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Judge Jerry Buchmeyer Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Law

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The Judge Jerry Buchmeyer Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Law was established on February 8, 1990, with gifts from the judge’s many friends, family members and colleagues. Judge Buchmeyer, J.D. ’57, served almost 30 years on the bench until his retirement in 2001 as Chief Judge of the Northern District of Texas. A senior partner at Thompson & Knight at the time of his nomination by Senator Lloyd Bentsen, he believed that being a judge was “the most interesting job in the legal profession, bar none. This is the best job.” 

Judge Buchmeyer was admired as one of Dallas’s outstanding judicial minds and was famous for his belief that humor was an absolute necessity in life. He wrote legal humor columns for the local and state bar associations, quoting from actual events in court, and occasionally writing original verses to the tunes of familiar songs. For example, he issued an opinion in which he criticized his own delay, to the tune of "Let It Snow.”

“Oh, the age of this case is gallful
Your procrastination is awful
Our impatience we must show
Let us know
Let us know
Let us know….”

He approached the law, however, with the utmost seriousness and was considered a giant of the court. Harold Klein, senior partner at Thompson & Knight, described him as a “true student of the law and a legal scholar who had the ability to turn legal scholarship into a usable client product.” Several of Judge Buchmeyer’s decisions had significant social impact: in one case desegregating public housing, in another ruling that a sodomy law was unconstitutional, and in a third requiring that individuals guilty of toxic dumping pay for the construction of an environmental learning center. Outside the court, Judge Buchmeyer served as president of the Dallas Bar Association and director of the Texas Bar.

The Judge received visits not only from attorneys he had ruled against, but from people he had sentenced to jail terms. One, who was tried, convicted, and directed to treatment, remembered Judge Buchmeyer as the first person in authority to really listen and to recognize that he suffered from PTSD. The Judge was genuinely interested in the people he met in his courtroom and was known to invite jury members to stop by his office after a case concluded so that they could “leave with a good feeling.” 

Judge Buchmeyer passed away in 2009. He wanted to leave people with that good feeling even in marking his passing. At his request - directed in a note written on the back of a blank check in 1991- he was remembered with laughter, funny stories and warm memories at an “Irish Wake” in Dallas.

October 12, 2017

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