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Frank Lee Hawkins (1866-1954)

Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, 1921-1939
Presiding Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, 1939-1951

Frank Lee Hawkins was born November 18, 1866, in Waxahachie Texas. He attended Marvin College in Waxahachie and Southwestern University in Georgetown before entering The University of Texas, where he earned an LL.B. degree with honors in 1889.

Hawkins was admitted to the bar in 1889 and returned home to Ellis County to begin his professional career. He was married the same year; he and his wife had three children. Hawkins was appointed an assistant county attorney in 1894, was elected county attorney in 1896, and served until 1900. He served as Ellis County judge from 1902 to 1906, when he was elected judge of the Fortieth Judicial District, a position he held for fifteen years from 1906 to 1921.

Following the death of W.L. Davidson in 1921, Gov. Pat Neff appointed Hawkins to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to fill the vacancy. Hawkins was elected in the next general election and was reelected numerous times, serving on the court for a total of thirty years until retiring in 1951. He was chosen the court's presiding judge for the final eleven years of his service beginning in 1939. He was remembered for his lengthy service-longer than any judge on the court-and as a fair judge who insisted on following precedent. Off the bench, he enjoyed people, fishing, sports, and keeping abreast of weather conditions throughout the country. He was described as kindly and modest.

Hawkins died at his Austin home September 26, 1954 at the age of eighty-seven. He was buried in the Texas State Cemetery.


A Tribute: Frank Lee Hawkins, 153 The Texas Criminal Reports xiv-xv.

Frank Lee Hawkins, 17 Texas Bar Journal 673 (November 1954).

Frank Lee Hawkins, Texas State Cemetery (accessed December 4, 2006).

W. St. John Garwood and Virginia Parton. Hawkins, Frank Lee, Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001).

Judge Hawkins, 13 Texas Bar Journal 434 (September 1950).