About Justice Carolyn Wright
Chief Justice Wright is elected to the Texas State Court of Appeals and has served in the judiciary for more than 25 years. While many of the positions held by her have been historical firsts for women and minorities serving in the Dallas judiciary, her recent appointment by Governor Rick Perry as Chief Justice of the 5th Court of Appeals marks the first time in Texas history that an African American (male or female) has ever served as Chief Justice on any of the 14 intermediate courts of appeal in the State of Texas. Chief Justice Wright is still the only African- American woman who has ever won a multi-county election for any elected office in Texas. The court has jurisdiction over both civil and criminal appeals from trial courts in six large North Texas counties, from which she is elected. Her judicial service includes 15 years on the Court of Appeals, 8 years as an elected State District Judge and 3 years as an Associate Judge in the Family District Courts. Prior to her judicial service, she was engaged in the private practice of law in areas of business transactions and litigation, as well as juvenile and family law. Prior to and during law school she worked for the federal government in a law-related field of juvenile justice. She graduated from the Howard University School of Law, Washington, D.C.
Professional Associations: She is past Chair and a Sustaining Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, a multi-million dollar legal charity; Fellow of the Foundations of the Dallas Bar and Dallas Young Lawyers; Member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, the National and American Bar Associations and the JL Turner African-American Legal Association; former faculty member of the Texas Center for the Judiciary and National Judicial College, Reno, Nevada.; appointed to the Judicial Ethics Committee and a Texas Supreme Court Appellate Tribunal for removal of a judge from elected office; appointed to a National Task Force to set national standards for mediation practice. Most recently she was appointed by the Chief Justice of the TX Supreme Court to serve on the MDL Panel for multi-district litigation; served on State Bar Task Forces to set standards for Death Penalty Habeas Representation and Improving the Hiring and Retention of Minorities and Women in Major Law Firms in Texas.
Civic Activities: Recipient of numerous civic and professional awards, featured in national and historical publications, for contributions to excellence in service to the community and law; a frequent media panelist and guest lecturer for churches, legal seminars, schools, public forums, and judicial education. She is a member of the Hamilton Park United Methodist Church; Downtown Rotary Club (Paul Harris Fellow and she is one of the first women in the United States admitted to membership in the previously all-male Rotary Clubs); Executive Women of Dallas; Dallas Chapter of Links, Inc., and Jordan CDC Board.
Awards and Honors: Honored as a “Yellow Rose of Texas”, Governor Bush’s community-service award. Recipient of the following professional and civic awards: National Association of Women Lawyers’ Leadership Award; the ABA Business Section’s Award for contributions to women and proficiency in law; Howard University School of Law’s “Distinguished Alumnus Award;” Altrusa International’s Public Service Award; Dallas Bar Association’s MLK, Jr. Award for Justice; Dallas Women Lawyers’ Louise Raggio Award; J.L. Turner Legal Association’s Distinguished Jurist Award; the American Jewish Congress’s “Woman of Spirit” Award; the Iota Phi Lamda Sorority’s Woman of the Year Award; the Committee on Race and Religion’s Community Service Award—North Texas United Methodist Conference; the Business Opportunity Symposium’s “Woman of Distinction Award”; the SMU Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity’s Metroplex Woman of the Year Award; the NAACP’s Juanita Craft Award in Law; the Legal Services’ Pro Bono Legal Service Awards; and Outstanding Performance Awards as a Federal Civil Servant. Honorably Mentioned—Autobiography of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Chief Justice Carolyn Wright is a fourth generation Texan, born in Houston, Texas. She was reared in the multi-cultural environment of a career military family. She attended primary and secondary schools located at military installations throughout the United States and the Far East. She returned to the United States from Yamato High School in Japan and graduated from Dover Air Force Base High School in Delaware, where she was editor of the year book, a member of the National Honor Society, volunteered in military hospitals as a Red Cross Candy Striper, lettered in five sports, selected as a representative to Girl’s State and elected by the general body as Girl State’s Attorney General for the State of Delaware. Her family includes: husband, James (Jim) Sanders, President of Sanders Construction and Real Estate Investments, Inc.; retired military parents in Camden, Delaware; a sister and brother in the Washington, D.C. area; and youngest sister, a judge, in Philadelphia, PA. In her spare time she enjoys her church activities, international travel, reading, attending spectator sports events and blues, jazz, spiritual and classical music concerts, live theater, and numerous charitable events.
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