WATERVILLE — Wallace Jefferson, chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, will receive the 2012 Morton A. Brody Distinguished Judicial Service Award at Colby College.

Jefferson will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree from Colby and give an address at an April 1 ceremony. The event will be preceded by a panel discussion at 4 p.m. focusing on the pros and cons of electing rather than appointing state judges.

The public is invited to an awards ceremony honoring Jefferson at 5:30 p.m., April 1 in Ostrove Auditorium in the Diamond Building, on the Colby campus, according to Colby spokeswoman Ruth Jacobs on Tuesday.

“Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson has been vigorous in advocating for adequate funding for our state courts, fair access to justice, quality defense for the indigent and nonpartisan judicial selection while remaining an approachable and active member of his community,” U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn, who nominated Jefferson for the award, said in the release.

Developing a reputation for excellence, Jefferson before age 35 successfully argued two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, a distinction held by only 1 percent of lawyers.

His appointment to the Texas Supreme Court in 2000 made him the first African American to sit on that court, and the first to serve as the court’s chief justice.

Jefferson graduated from Michigan State University and University of Texas School of Law. After graduation he worked at Groce, Locke and Hebdon, in San Antonio, Texas, and in 1991, founded an appellate law firm with Tom Crofts and Sharon Callaway.

The 4 p.m. panel discussion before the April 1 awards ceremony will include Lynn, Jed Shugerman, assistant professor of law at Harvard Law School; James Sample, associate professor of law at Hofstra Law School; and Dmitry Bam, associate professor of law at University of Maine School of Law.

The Brody Award, named for the late Judge Morton A. Brody, of Waterville, honors an outstanding federal or state judge who embodies the qualities of integrity, compassion, humanity and judicial craftsmanship, Jacobs wrote in a press release dated Tuesday.

Brody taught at Colby and was the husband of Judith Levine Brody, a 1958 Colby graduate and retired associate dean of admissions at the college.

Jefferson will be the seventh recipient of the Brody Award, according to Jacobs. Other recipients are Nancy Gertner, in 2010; Leonie M. Brinkema, 2008; Frank M. Coffin, 2006; Richard Sheppard Arnold, 2004; Ann Claire Williams, 2002; and Guido Calabresi, 2001.

The event honoring Jefferson is sponsored by the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Colby.

Founded is 2003, the center seeks to bring faculty and students together with local, state, national and international leaders to explore creative, interdisciplinary approaches to the complex challenges facing today’s world.

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