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Richard Morris (1815-1844)

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Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas, 1841-1844

Richard Morris was born December 27, 1815 in Hanover County, Virginia. His father, also named Richard Morris, was a prominent attorney and state legislator. Following graduation from Burke High School in Richmond, Morris attended the University of Virginia for two years. He studied law in his father's office, and then returned to the University of Virginia to study law for one semester in 1835. After obtaining his law license, Morris left Virginia for Texas in 1838.

Morris went into partnership in Houston with fellow Virginia native James H. Davis until 1840, when Davis died. Morris then relocated to Galveston and established a successful law practice on his own. In 1841 President Lamar appointed Morris, just twenty-six years old, judge of the First Judicial District, which automatically made him an associate justice of the supreme court. Shortly after his appointment, Morris was married.

Although he was the youngest member of the court, Morris was said to have been a capable, dignified, and patient judge. He sat on three sessions of the supreme court before dying of yellow fever in Galveston on August 19, 1944 at the age of twenty-nine.

Notable opinions

Allcorn v. Sweeney, Dallam 494 (Tex. 1843) (reversing judgment for defendant in action on promissory note, holding that where a party enforces contractual penalties for non-performance, the original position of the parties before the penalty should be restored as much as possible).

Forbes, Brooks & Co. v. Hill, Dallam 486 (Tex. 1842) (reversing judgment perpetuating injunction on the levy of slaves. Although plaintiff to the injunction contended he had designated property other than his slaves for levy to satisfy a judgment held by defendants to injunction, sheriff's discretion to levy on slaves upheld by court as proper, especially in the present case where plaintiff to injunction did not own the designated property he offered for levy.

Sources

Ericson, Joe E. Judges of the Republic of Texas (1836-1846) 203 (Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Co., 1980).

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 78-80 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

Morris, Richard, Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001).
http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/MM/fmo62.html

Extended bibliography

Ericson, Joe E. Judges of the Republic of Texas (1836-1846) 203 (Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Co., 1980).

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 13, 78, 533 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

Additional information available in Southwestern Historical Quarterly as follow:
Volume 43, page 487n
Volume 54, page 111
Volume 60, page 17
Volume 67, page 123