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James Gray Denton (1917-1982)

Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1971-1982

James Gray Denton was born May 27, 1917 in Bonham, Fannin County, Texas, and grew up there. He completed his undergraduate education at Texas Tech University and his legal training at The University of Texas School of Law. He was married and had three sons and two daughters.

Denton obtained his law license in 1941 on the eve of World War II. He served four years on active duty in the U.S. Navy during the war, and then returned to Lubbock in 1947 to begin his legal career. In 1950 he was appointed the first judge of the newly created county court-at-law bench in Lubbock County. He was elected judge of the ninety-ninth District Court of Lubbock in 1952 and served for seven years until 1959, when he was appointed chief justice of the Court of Civil Appeals of the Seventh Supreme Judicial District in Amarillo. He was twice elected to the position, and wrote more than 250 opinions for the court.

When James Norvell announced that he would not seek reelection, Denton campaigned for his place on the state supreme court. He won the election and was sworn in on January 4, 1971. He was reelected in 1976. His opinions in Southwestern Bell v. Public Utility Commission and Railroad Commission v. Entex are considered landmark decisions in the area of public utility law.

James Denton was a member of the court when he died while playing golf in San Antonio June 10, 1982. He was buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.

Notable opinions

Southwestern Bell v. Public Utility Commission, 571 S.W.2d 503 (Tex. 1978); Railroad Commission v. Entex, 599 S.W.2d 292 (Tex. 1980)


Memorial Service for the Honorable James G. Denton, Justice, Supreme Court of Texas. Austin, Texas July 7, 1983.

James Denton, Texas Cemetery (visited October 5, 2006).

Extended bibliography

Additional information available in Texas Bar Journal as follow:
Volume 22, page 623
Volume 34, page 111
Volume 36, page 1000
Volume 37, page 35, 569

Candidate Takes Campaign Home, Dallas Times-Herald, Mar. 27, 1968.

Greenhill, Joe R. A Memorial Tribute to Justice James G. Denton, 13(5) St. Mary's Law Journal x (1982).