AUSTIN (KXAN) — The lawyer bug bit Don Willett as a young child when his father died without a will. He watched his mom deal with the resulting confusion. He graduated from Baylor and rose through the ranks to become a Texas Supreme Court justice. This 21st century judge, who came from a town of just 30 people, now has more than 13,000 people hanging on his every Tweet.
“I take my job seriously, but not myself,” Willett said.
That goes double for his online personality. Willett says the first thing to an eye-grabbing Tweet is a picture, media link, or cartoon to go along with it.
“That grabs people’s attention visually,” he said.
Thousands follow Justice Willett on Twitter and get bombarded with memes, jokes, pictures of his three wee Willetts, and of course — his flashy socks. He’s changing the stereotype of Supreme Court justices.
“People have a view of judges as these sort of dry, humorless, disembodied brains. But judges, believe it or not, are people, too,” he said.
In Texas, they’re people who have to run and be elected to their posts.
“It’s political malpractice not to engage smartly people via social media,” he said.
Willett brags of his “Calvin and Hobbes”-filled law library or boldly going where no justice has gone before — a Twittersphere conversation with William Shatner. Willett is known for having one of the most entertaining Twitter accounts.
“Frankly, I think the bar is pretty low for judges,” Willett said, as he explained how you won’t find any political rants or judicial opinions on his page. He prefers debating whether the “S” or the “C” is silent in the word “scent.”
“By and large, I try to keep it light and witty and entertaining and informative,” he said. “Being called the most funny judge on Twitter is like being the tallest munchkin in ‘Oz,’ or the most camera-shy Kardashian. I’m not sure. But it’s fun.”
Follow Justice Willett on Twitter: @JusticeWillett