Born in Alpine, Texas, John Sutton (1918-) graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1941 with honors. He became an associate with the San Antonio firm Brooks, Napier, Brown and Matthews. In March 1942, Sutton left the practice and joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a special agent. Stationed in Allentown, Pennsylvania, he investigated suspected communist activity.
Following World War II, Sutton returned to private practice with Brooks, Napier, Brown and Matthews where he primarily practiced personal injury defense litigation. In 1948, he moved to San Angelo to practice civil litigation and oil and gas law. After an offer from Page Keeton, Sutton joined the faculty as a full professor of the University of Texas School of Law in 1957 and served as dean of the law school from 1979 to 1984. Although Sutton retired in 1988, he continued teaching part-time until 2009. He holds the A.W. Walker Centennial Chair Emeritus at the School of Law.
Known for his collegiality, Sutton taught courses on torts, evidence, and legal ethics. In addition to co-authoring texts on both evidence and professional responsibility, he was a principal drafter on the American Bar Association's Model Code of Professional Responsibility, served as a consultant to the Kutak Committee's revision of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct from 1979 to 1983, and was a member and reporter on the committee for the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct adopted by the State Bar of Texas in 1990.
Sutton was a member of the standing committees of the State Bar of Texas on Administration of Rules of Evidence and the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation in 1983. Additionally, Sutton is a Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Association, a member of Order of the Coif, a recipient of the Teaching Excellence Award at the University of Texas, and a recipient of the State Bar of Texas Presidents' Award.