Note: Judgepedia will be read-only from 9pm CST on February 25-March 5 while Judgepedia is merged into Ballotpedia.
Starting on March 5, all Judgepedia content will be contained on For status updates, visit

Nathan Hecht

From Judgepedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Nathan Hecht
Current Court Information:
Texas Supreme Court
Title:   Chief justice
Position:   Place 1
Salary:  $
Appointed by:   Gov. Rick Perry
Active:   1989-2020
Chief:   2013-Present
Past post:   Judge, Fifth District Court of Appeals
Past term:   1986-1989
Personal History
Born:   1949
Party:   Republican
Undergraduate:   Yale University
Law School:   Southern Methodist University School of Law
Candidate 2014:
Candidate for:  Texas Supreme Court
Position:  Chief Justice
State:  Texas
Election information 2014:
Incumbent:  Yes
Primary date:  3/4/2014
Primary vote:  60.5%ApprovedA
Election date:  11/4/2014

Nathan L. Hecht is the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court. Hecht was elected to the court in 1988 and took office on January 1, 1989. He was re-elected in 1994, 2000, 2006 and 2012.[1][2][3] Hecht is currently the most senior justice of the court.[4]

Hecht was appointed chief justice by Governor Rick Perry on September 10, 2013. He was re-elected on November 4, 2014, for a term that began on January 1, 2015, and will expire on December 31, 2020.[5][6][4][7]



For in-depth coverage of the state's high court races, see: Texas Supreme Court elections, 2014 and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals elections, 2014
See also: Texas judicial elections, 2014
Hecht ran for re-election to the Texas Supreme Court.
Primary: He was successful in the Republican primary on March 4, 2014, receiving 60.5% of the vote. He competed against Robert Talton.
General: He faced William Moody (Democratic) and Tom Oxford (Libertarian) in the general election on November 4, 2014.[6][8][9]

Judicial poll

Below are the results of the 2014 judicial poll, conducted by the State Bar of Texas, which asked attorneys to cast a vote in favor of their preferred candidate in each appellate race.[10]

Chief Justice
Candidate: Votes:
Nathan Hecht 5945
William Moody 2681
Tom Oxford 1013
Robert Talton 1164



  • Texas Civil Justice League PAC
  • Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC
  • Texas Bipartisan Justice Committee
  • Texans for Fiscal Responsibility
  • Young Conservatives of Texas
  • Texas Patriots PAC (recommended)
  • United Republicans of Harris County
  • DFW Conservative Voters
  • Williamson County Republican Leaders
  • Kingwood Tea Party
  • Llano Tea Party
  • Parker County Tea Party
  • Kaufman County Tea Party
  • Rowlett Tea Party
  • V.O.C.A.L. PAC
  • Tea Party 911 (recommended)
  • “C” Club of Houston
  • Houston Realty Business Coalition (HRBC)
  • Texas Medical Association PAC (TEXPAC)
  • Texas Farm Bureau (AGFUND)
  • Texas Association of Manufacturers PAC (MPACT)
  • Texas Association of Realtors
  • Texas Apartment Association
  • Cattle Raisers Association PAC
  • Texas Oil & Gas Association (TXOGA) PAC
  • Association of Women Attorneys-Houston
  • Texas Right to Life PAC
  • Texas Alliance for Life PAC
  • Texas Home School Coalition
  • Dallas Morning News
  • San Antonio Express-News
  • Houston Chronicle
  • Longview News-Journal
  • Beaumont Enterprise
  • Corpus Christi Caller-Times
  • San Angelo Standard-Times
  • Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
  • Amarillo Globe News
  • Bryan-College Station Eagle

Former colleagues

  • Chief Justice Tom Phillips
  • Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson
  • Justice Barbara Culver Clack
  • Justice Craig Enoch
  • Justice Harriet O’Neill
  • Justice Alberto Gonzales
  • Justice Dale Wainwright
  • Justice Scott Brister
  • Justice David Medina
  • Justice Eugene Cook[11]


Hecht ran unopposed in the Republican primary on May 29. He defeated Michele Petty, Mark Ash and Jim Chisholm in the November 6, 2012, general election for Place 6 of the Texas Supreme Court, earning 53.7% of the vote.[12][13][14]

See also: Texas judicial elections, 2012

In an email sent to Judgepedia from Hecht's campaign on September 27, 2012, Hecht is quoted saying,

This race is important to preserve experience and leadership on the Supreme Court of Texas. For 23 years, I have followed the law fairly and consistently and helped develop rules of practice and administration to reduce the expense and delay of going to court. I have also worked to obtain critical funding for legal services, trying to assure that Texas’ poorest citizens have access to the justice system. If elected, I will continue to work for more efficient courts and better access to justice.[15][16]


Hecht received his B.A. in philosophy from Yale University and his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law.[17]


Prior to his election in 1988, Hecht clerked for Judge Roger Robb of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He has served as lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve, worked in private practice and, from 1981 to 1986, served on the 95th District Court. In 1986, he was elected to the Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals, where he remained until he was elected to the Texas Supreme Court.[4]

Awards and associations

  • 1984: Outstanding Young Lawyer, Dallas Association of Young Lawyers
  • Member, American Law Institute
  • Member, Texas Philosophical Society
  • Fellow, Texas Bar Association
  • Fellow, American Bar Association
  • Advisory Board, S.M.U. Law Review[4]

In the news

Miers controversy and aftermath

In May 2006, Justice Hecht was disciplined by the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct for improperly using his office and position to promote the interests of Harriet Miers' during the nomination. A three-judge panel exonerated Hecht of the charge on appeal. The New York Times reported that Justice Hecht assured the Arlington Group, a group of Christian Conservatives, of Harriet Miers' pro-life views. At the time, Miers was nominated to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.[18][19][20]

Refunding legal fees

In March 2007, Hecht said he asked Texas representative Tony Goolsby to propose a bill to force the state to reimburse him for $340,000 in legal fees.[21] Goolsby withdrew the bill after learning Hecht had already been reimbursed for the bill through "donations". Hecht defended his position by saying, “Here is the problem: If judges are sanctioned like this and it’s unjust and it’s wrong and they want to prove it, they can represent themselves or hire a lawyer that you can’t pay for on a judge’s salary.” Hecht earns $152,500 a year.[22]

Ethics violation

While working to remove the misconduct sanction imposed on him by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct (due to his support for Harriet Miers), Justice Hecht accrued a bill of $340,000. Ethics violations were charged against him for receiving a $100,000 discount on his legal fees which he never included in his campaign finance report. The law firm, Jackson Walker, appears frequently before the Texas Supreme Court. Moreover, these allegations extend to other Texas law firms as well who provided Hecht with $447,000 to cover his Miers bills as Hecht sided favorably with those firms he solicited and from where he received moneys.[23]

In January 2008, Texas Watch filed a complaint against Justice Hecht on the grounds that he illegally paid for personal travel with political donations; the watchdog organization cited a report from the Texas Ethic Commission that Justice Hecht spent $10,000 from his campaign to fund in-state flights. Even though Justice Hecht will not be up for re-election until 2012, Hecht defended his actions, saying the trips home were for campaigning purposes. Two other Texas Supreme Court justice are now under investigation for similar matters as well: Justice David Medina and Justice Paul Green.[24][25] Hecht was fined $29,000 after the commission found he committed ethics violations.

Appeal of ethics fine still pending

Hecht began appealing his $29,000 ethics fine in 2009. Texas law allows those charged with a violation by the Texas Ethics Commission to appeal their case to district court. Doing so essentially erases any findings made by the commission and the case starts over. Hecht's case is still pending.[26]

Political ideology

See also: Political ideology of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan ideology of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 are more liberal. Hecht received a Campaign finance score (CFscore) of 0.97, indicating a conservative ideological leaning. This is more conservative than the average CF score of 0.91 that justices received in Texas. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice, but an academic gauge of various factors.[27]

See also

External links


  1. Texas Secretary of State, "Election results," 1994 see 1994 General Election results
  2. Texas Secretary of State, "Election results," 2000 see 2000 General Election results
  3. Texas Secretary of State, "Election results," 2006 see 2006 General Election results
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 The Supreme Court of Texas, "Justice Nathan L. Hecht," accessed December 1, 2014
  5., “Judicial selection in Texas,” accessed November 21, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 Texas Secretary of State, "2014 March Primary Election Candidate Filings by County (A-L)"
  7. The Wichita Eagle, "Hecht chosen as new chief of Texas Supreme Court," September 10, 2013 (dead link)
  8. Texas Secretary of State, "2014 March Primary Election Candidate Filings by County (M-Z)"
  9. Texas Secretary of State, "2014 Republican Party Primary Election, Unofficial Results," accessed December 1, 2014
  10. State Bar of Texas "Judicial Poll results," 2014
  11. Keep Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, "Endorsements," accessed August 21, 2014
  12. Texas Secretary of State, "General Election Summary," 2012 Select "2012 General Election"
  13. Texas Republican Party, "Candidates for Justice, Supreme Court," 2012
  14. Nathan Hecht Campaign website, "Home," 2012
  15. Information submitted to Judgepedia by Justice Hecht's campaign via email on 9/27/2012
  16. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  17. Project Vote Smart, "Justice Nathan L. Hecht (TX)," accessed December 1, 2014
  18. New York Times, "Nominee Meets With Committee Democrats ," October 18, 2005
  19. Texas Watch, "Did Justice Nathan Hecht Break the Law?" July 24, 2007
  20. Above the Law, "Love Conquers All: Justice Nathan Hecht Cleared on Ethics Charges," October 20, 2006
  21., "Texas Supreme Court Justice Wants State To Pay Legal Fees," March 9, 2007
  22. Texas Courts, "Texas Judges' Salaries," accessed December 1, 2014
  23. Legal Newsline, "Texan attorney donors to SC Justice hit 8-for-9 after: watchdog," July 18, 2007
  24. Texas Watch, "Complaints Filed Against Hecht, Medina for Travel Violations," January 24, 2008 (dead link)
  25. Texas Watch, "Supreme Court Justice Paul Green Breaks State Ethics Law," January 22, 2008 (dead link)
  26. My SA, "Eluding big ethics fines," September 12, 2013
  27. Stanford University, "State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns," October 31, 2012

TexasUnited States District Court for the Eastern District of TexasUnited States District Court for the Western District of TexasUnited States District Court for the Northern District of TexasUnited States District Court for the Southern District of TexasUnited States bankruptcy court, Eastern District of TexasUnited States bankruptcy court, Western District of TexasUnited States bankruptcy court, Northern District of TexasUnited States bankruptcy court, Southern District of TexasUnited States Court of Appeals for the Fifth CircuitTexas Supreme CourtTexas Court of AppealsTexas Court of Criminal AppealsTexas District CourtsTexas County CourtsTexas County Courts at LawTexas Statutory Probate CourtsTexas Justice of the Peace CourtsTexas Municipal CourtsTexas countiesTexas judicial newsTexas judicial electionsJudicial selection in TexasTexasTemplate.jpg