Some state leaders in the new year are saying, “Out with the old and in with the new” — at least as far as Texas’ judicial bench is concerned.
On Tuesday, at a special swearing-in hearing, state leaders sent newly appointed U.S. 5th Circuit Judge Don Willett on his way and swore in his successor.
Willett was honored by friends including Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. John Cornyn, whose political careers, like Willett’s, included time on the Texas Supreme Court.
In December, the U.S. Senate confirmed Willett's nomination to become a new judge for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Now Don, I know you took a little heat from some of my colleagues during your confirmation hearing but you handled them as you always do, with good grace and good humility and good humor,” Cornyn said. “But from now on, you’re going to be the one asking all the questions.”
Standing in front of friends and family, Willett was sworn in as a federal appellate judge.
“A strong judiciary is essential to a strong state and a strong United States,” he said. “My title today has changed from justice to judge but my task has not.”
Willett’s swearing in was followed by the swearing in of his successor, Jimmy Blacklock, who was appointed by Abbott after previously serving as the governor’s chief legal counsel.
Willett started his legal career as an intern clerking for the 5th Circuit Court. He also served 12 years on the Texas Supreme Court before he and former Texas Solicitor General James Ho were nominated to the federal position by President Trump.