Visit The University of Texas homepage

James Rankin Norvell (1902-1969)

Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1957-1968

James Rankin Norvell was born September 24, 1902 in Hayden, Colorado. His father had come from Tennessee to Hayden, where he operated a mercantile and served as the town's first mayor. Norvell attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, earning an undergraduate degree and a law degree. He was admitted to the Texas bar in 1926, was married the following year, and settled in Edinburg, Texas, in the Rio Grande valley. Unable to find work as an attorney, he worked briefly as a draftsman for the Southern Pacific Railroad and also worked at an abstract company. In 1930 he co-founded the firm of Kelley, Looney, and Norvell, and practiced there for the next ten years.

Norvell's judicial career began in 1940 when Gov. W. Lee ("Pappy") O'Daniel appointed him an associate justice of the Fourth Court of Civil Appeals in San Antonio. After relocating to San Antonio, Norvell became involved in the development of St. Mary's School of Law and taught there as an adjunct professor during the sixteen years he sat on the court of civil appeals.

Norvell ran for the position of associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court in 1956 after Will Wilson announced his retirement. He won the election, was sworn in January 1, 1957, and served until retiring at the end of 1968.

Following his service on the bench Norvell returned to teaching law at St. Mary's University in San Antonio. He died October 21, 1969 in San Antonio of an apparent heart attack and was buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.


Memorial Service for the Honorable James R. Norvell, Austin, Texas, May 8 1970.

453 S.W.2d 5-19 (1970).

James Norvell, Texas Cemetery (visited October 3, 2006).

Blaire Pollard. Norvell, James R., Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001).

Extended bibliography

Additional information available in Southwestern Historical Quarterly as follow:
Volume 62, page 87, 141, 287, 297
Volume 63, page 63, 180
Volume 65, page 108
Volume 67, page 104, 299
Volume 68, page 284, 465, 546
Volume 72, page 439

Additional information available in Texas Bar Journal as follow:
Volume 3, page 65
Volume 15, page 53
Volume 16, page 521, 581
Volume 19, page 693, 768
Volume 21, page 458
Volume 23, page 449, 727
Volume 24, page 677, 716
Volume 25, page 467, 682
Volume 27, page 87
Volume 30, page 331, 417, 608
Volume 31, page 661, 813, 899, 914
Volume 32, page 744, 882
Volume 33, page 425

San Antonio Judge to Seek Wilson's Post on High Court, Dallas Morning News, Feb. 1, 1956.

Morehead, Richard M. Norvell to Retire from Court, Dallas Morning News, Sept. 26, 1967.

Funeral is Monday for J. R. Norvell, Retired State Judge, Corpus Christi Caller, Oct. 25, 1969.

James R. Norvell Papers. Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas (Austin, Texas).

453-454 S.W. 2nd 6 (Memorial).