Texas judge known for his Twitter jokes joins federal bench

Judge Don Willett takes the oath to become a judge on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. (KXAN Photo/Steffi Lee)

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Texas’ first “Tweeter Laureate” is now a federal judge on the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals.

Judge Don Willett, previously a Justice on the Texas Supreme Court, was sworn in Tuesday by Chief Justice Nathan Hecht.

“It has been the richest honor of my professional life to serve on the Supreme Court of Texas and to serve our Lone Star state,” Willett told the crowd at the ceremony.

Willett was first appointed to the Texas Supreme Court by Gov. Rick Perry in 2005 and then elected to that position in 2006 and 2012. Prior to that, he served as Deputy Attorney General and chief legal counsel to Gov. Greg Abbott when he served as Texas Attorney General.

“I was struck by his brilliance, but never had the wisdom or foresight to know his Twitter excellence would be forthcoming in future years,” Abbott said.

Willett’s tweets about Texas pride, life and the law led to the Texas Legislature ceremonially naming him the “Tweeter Laureate” in 2015.

Abbott swore in Jimmy Blacklock to the Texas Supreme Court after Willett was sworn in. Justice Blacklock has served as general counsel for Abbott since 2015.

“I will be surprised if there has ever been anybody on the Texas Supreme Court who has been involved in as many appeals to the United States Supreme Court as Jimmy Blacklock,” Abbott said.

Blacklock said a long list of people, including Abbott, got him to this point in his career.

“I ask for your patience as I get to understand the ways of this court and I ask for your help,” Blacklock said.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, also spoke during the ceremony, reflecting on his experiences serving on the Texas Supreme Court. “It’s probably the hardest job I have had in public life, being a judge,” Cornyn said.

Cornyn told reporters former state solicitor general James Ho, President Donald Trump’s other pick to the 5th Circuit, will be sworn in later this week in Dallas by Justice Clarence Thomas.

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