AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas Supreme Court Justice Phil Johnson has submitted his resignation, the Court announced Thursday. His retirement comes after 13 years on the court.
Johnson, an Air Force fighter pilot turned lawyer, will have served as a Texas judge for 20 years when his resignation is effective: 13 years on the Supreme Court and seven as a justice, then chief justice on the Amarillo Court of Appeals, according to an advisory from a court official on Thursday.
His term ends in December 2020.
“You feel like in this position you can make a difference. The law is the superstructure of society, the framework for doing what we can do,” the Lubbock native said in a statement. “I’ll miss that I was contributing. That’s what I’ll miss about it.”
“It’s hard to believe that everything I left I missed,” he said. “I would not see finishing a career any better.”
Johnson graduated with a mathematics degree from Texas Tech University before joining the Air Force.
According to information provided by the Court, “after service in Vietnam in 1967-68, where he won the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross – with bonze oak leaf cluster – the Air Medal – multiple oak-leaf clusters – and the Republic of Viet Nam Cross of Gallantry, Johnson continued as an Air Force instructor until 1972 when he enrolled in the Texas Tech University School of Law.”
Upon graduating from Texas Tech in 1975, he joined Lubbock law firm Crenshaw Dupree & Milam, and was a partner there before his election to the Amarillo Court of Appeals in 1998.
“He has made a vast and indelible contribution to Texas law,” Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht said. “Justice Johnson is greatly beloved and admired by the Court and its staff, and we will miss his wise and steady leadership greatly.”
The Texas Supreme Court is comprised of the chief justice and eight justices. It is located in Austin.