TYLER (KYTX) – A reception will be held Thursday, December 11, 2014 for Justice Sam Griffith who recently announced his plans to retire from the Twelfth Court of Appeals early in 2015.
Justice Griffith will be honored during the reception to be held in the Central jury room of the Smith County Courthouse from 3-5 pm.
Griffith, 63, was elected to serve on the court in 2000. He began his service on January 1, 2001, joining then Chief Justice Leonard Davis and Justice Jim Worthen.
In his first term, he also served with Louie Gohmert, before his election to Congress, and former Justice Diane DeVasto. In 2006, Griffith was unopposed as he was reelected to a second six year term. That same year, he and Worthen were joined on the court by Justice Brian Hoyle. The three have now served together for over eight years. Justice Griffith was again reelected in 2012 unopposed.
Justice Griffith resides in Starrville on the working farm that has been in the family since 1872.
He received a Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree from Stephen F. Austin State University. He received his Juris Doctorate from St. Mary's School of Law.
He was a briefing attorney for Justice Paul S. Colley of the Twelfth Court of Appeals. He was in private practice in Tyler until his appointment as judge of the newly-created County Court at Law #3 of Smith County, which was designated the county's juvenile court.
He was judge of the County Court at Law # 3 from August 1997 until December 1998. He returned to private practice as a partner in the Tyler law firm of Holcomb, Morrison & Griffith from 1999 through 2000. On January 1, 2001, he began his current service on the Twelfth Court of Appeals.
Justice Griffith is a Member of the State Bar of Texas and the Smith County Bar Association. He is board certified in both Criminal Law and Criminal Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
He is a member of the Texas Bar Association Judicial and Appellate Sections, and was a member of the Texas Bar Association Committee on Law Focused Education from 1998 to 2004. He is also admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Fifth Circuit, and the U.S. Eastern and Northern Districts of Texas.
He has been a speaker at a number of legal seminars on various legal topics, including criminal appeals and evidentiary issues. In 1998, while he was juvenile judge, he delivered his "Now You Are Ten, Making the Right Choices" program over forty times to more than ten thousand Smith County school children.
His community involvement has included being Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Y.M.C.A. of Tyler/Smith County; Secretary and member of the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Club of Smith County; and member of the board of the East Texas Farm and Ranch Club.
He has also been actively involved with the East Texas Food Bank's four acre food garden from its inception, which, in its first four years of production, has produced over 173,000 pounds (over eighty-six tons) of fresh vegetables for the hungry of East Texas. He has also won over fifty ribbons from the East Texas State Fair for vegetables he has raised.
Justice Griffith has taught U.S. Constitutional Law at Yunnan University School of Law in Kunming, the People's Republic of China, and during the first of his three mission trips to Iraq, taught U.S. Constitutional Law at Koya University in Koya, Iraq. He has also written, delivered, or published articles on topics ranging from law to social psychology, from farming to devotionals, and including "Debt Liability of Marital Property in Texas," published in the The Community Property Journal.
Justice Griffith has also led or participated in mission trips in Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, and Guatemala, and is
involved in a water well digging ministry in South Sudan through which he has provided twelve water wells. In 2011, he received a "Global Encourager" award from the Global Evangelistic Relations Committee for the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention for his mission work in Iraq. He received the 2013 "Servant Leadership Award" from the Texas TeenPact Leadership Schools.
Justice Griffith plans to focus on his Christian mission work after he leaves the court. He also plans to complete several writing projects and to spend more time on his Starrville farm. Current Chief Justice Worthen said "The Twelfth Court of Appeals will greatly miss Justice Griffith. He has been a wonderful colleague for these fourteen years and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors."
The Twelfth Court of Appeals is one of fourteen intermediate appellate courts located across the State of Texas. It considers all civil and criminal appeals from the trial courts of these counties, with the exception of death penalty cases. Its chambers are located in Tyler and it serves seventeen Texas counties. These include Anderson, Angelina, Cherokee, Gregg, Henderson, Houston, Nacogdoches, Rains, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Smith, Trinity, Upshur, Van Zandt and Wood.