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Thomas Hawthorne ("Phil") Phillips (1914-1975)

Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1972

Thomas Hawthorne ("Phil") Phillips was born December 30, 1914, in Marlin, Texas, the county seat of Falls County, located twenty-four miles south of Waco. He graduated from Baylor University law school and was admitted to the Texas bar in 1937. Phillips practiced law in Harlingen until 1954, except for service as a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1941 to 1946. He was married in 1941, and had two children, a son and a daughter.

Phillips was a Harlingen city commissioner and later served as a special assistant district attorney for Cameron County. In 1955, he was elected judge of the 107th District Court, a post he held for the next nine years. From 1964 to 1971, Phillips served as first assistant attorney general of Texas; from 1967 to 1971 he chaired the Opinions Committee of that office. In 1971 he became legal aide to Gov. Preston Smith; he served in that position for eleven months.

In October 1972, Gov. Preston Smith appointed Phillips an associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court, to fill the seat vacated when Joe Greenhill was elevated to chief justice following Robert Calvert's retirement. Phillips served through the end of the year, when the term expired and Sam Johnson was sworn in following election to the seat.

Thomas Hawthorne Phillips died in Austin, Texas, October 23, 1975, at the age of sixty. He was buried in the Texas State Cemetery.


Greenhill Succeeds Calvert as Supreme Court Chief Justice, 35 Texas Bar Journal 999-1000, 1020.

Line of Succession of Supreme Court of Texas Justices, Compiled by the Supreme Court Clerk (as of 01/11/02).

Thomas Phillips, Texas State Cemetery (accessed March 28, 2007).

Extended bibliography

Phillips Announces for High Court, San Antonio Express, Oct. 1, 1969.

Governor Smith Picks Aide for High Court, Houston Post, Sept. 20, 1972.

Additional information available in Texas Bar Journal as follow:
Volume 21, page 677
Volume 23, page 382, 808
Volume 30, page 522
Volume 35, page 1000
Volume 39, page 451