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Wright Chalfant Morrow (1858-1942)

Presiding Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, 1921-1939
Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, 1917-1921

Wright Chalfant Morrow was born October 12, 1858, in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. An only child, he left home for Fort Worth, Texas at the age of seventeen, and worked there briefly before moving to Whitney. He was married in 1884 to Fanietta Tarlton, whose brothers were attorneys George D. and Benjamin D. Tarlton. (B.D. Tarlton later became a judge, state representative, and law professor at The University of Texas.) The couple went on to have three sons and a daughter.

Following his marriage, Morrow studied law in Hillsboro and attended the University of Virginia law school in 1887. Returning to Hillsboro that year, he began practicing law with his brothers-in-law.

Morrow was elected a district judge in Hill County in 1897 and was reelected the following year, but he resigned to return to private legal practice. He was a state senator from 1912 to 1916, and then resumed legal practice with his sons, who had all become lawyers.

Morrow was appointed to the Court of Criminal Appeals in 1917. He served as a judge until 1921, when he was chosen presiding judge of the court following the death of W.L. Davidson. He served in that position until retiring from the bench in 1939. Morrow was known as a thorough and fair judge who also displayed a sense of humor. He was known to urge his associates to be patient in preparing opinions, reportedly telling them, "There's no use to rush. The defendant isn't in a hurry to get to the penitentiary."

Morrow died at his home in Hillsboro on October 6, 1942, just six days before his eighty-fourth birthday.

Sources

W. C. Morrow, 5 Texas Bar Journal 435-436 (November 1942).

Wright C. Morrow Papers, 1922-1942, finding aid, Tarlton Law Library, Rare Books and Special Collections (accessed December 4, 2006).
http://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/rare/findingaids/morrow.pdf