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Samuel Houston Clinton, Jr. (1923-2004)

Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, 1979-1996

Samuel Houston Clinton, Jr. was born September 17, 1923, in Waco, Texas, where his father was a cotton broker. He received his education at Baylor University and Baylor Law School, earned his law degree in 1948, and was admitted to the Texas bar in 1949. He served as a naval aviator during World War II.

After completing his education, Clinton went to Washington, D.C., where he served as an aide to U.S. Congressman W.R. "Bob" Poague from 1949 to 1950. In 1951 he became a field attorney for the National Labor Union and also worked as a fingerprint examiner for the FBI before returning to Texas, where he joined the Dallas law firm of Mullinax and Wells. He was married and had four children.

Clinton moved to Austin in 1959, where he practiced law for the next twenty years. He became a noted trial attorney and constitutional scholar, and served as general counsel to the Texas AFL/CIO and the Texas Civil Liberties Union. His high profile clients included Jack Ruby, who shot and killed President John F. Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Austin atheist leader Madalyn Murray O'Hair. Clinton was an avid historian, and he served on the Austin Historic Landmark Commission. His law firm, Clinton and Richards, occupied the first historically zoned building in Austin.

Clinton was elected to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1978, and was reelected twice. Altogether he served three consecutive six-year terms on the bench before retiring in 1996. While on the court he wrote 1,094 opinions, the second-most ever written by a member of the court.

Clinton died in Austin of Alzheimer's disease October 5, 2004, at the age of eighty-one. He was buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.


Judge Sam Houston Clinton, 67 Texas Bar Journal 990 (December 2004).

Sam Clinton, Texas State Cemetery (accessed December 18, 2006).