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Judge Joe Spurlock II


Senior Judge Joe Spurlock II, was a true Texas judge, diplomat, professor, and servant to democracy. Judge Joe served as the senior professor of law and director of the Asian Judicial Institute. The AJI would later become the Spurlock Judicial Fund, a non-profit that continues his work in the rule of law in democratic societies as well as the promotion of judicial independence.

Judge Spurlock’s passion for the law, justice, and legal education were innate. He was the son of Clarice Spurlock, the first woman elected to the Fort Worth City Council in 1953. His grandfather, Sheriff Joe G. Spurlock of Throckmorton County, Texas, died in 1910, two days after being shot while attempting to serve a warrant. His father, Joe C. Spurlock, was himself a trial and appellate court judge who helped create the Texas Trial Lawyers Association. Otis Rogers, his great-uncle, was a Fort Worth attorney, as is his brother Dean Spurlock.

Judge Spurlock was a founding faculty member of what would become Texas A&M School of Law when its long-term success was considered wishful thinking by many. By the time he joined the faculty, Judge Spurlock had already spent years in private practice and served as an assistant criminal district attorney, a member of the Texas Legislature, a trial court judge, and an appellate justice.

Legal reform and advancing the Rule of Law were among his passions – ones which ultimately led him to meetings with the president and prime minister of Mongolia, among others upon whom he pressed the importance of an independent judiciary. The founding of the Asian Judicial Institute, which Judge Spurlock led for years, occurred soon thereafter.

Outside of his roles as a professor, judge, lawyer, and civic advisor, Judge Spurlock has served in other capacities as well. He was a Boy Scout Master and District Chairman, Council committee member and regional representative for the Boy Scouts of America. In the U.S. Army, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his service in Vietnam. He is active in his church, where he taught adult Sunday school for many years.

A 1960 economics graduate of Texas A&M University and a member of the Corps of Cadets, Judge Spurlock received his J.D. from the University of Texas and his LL.M. in Judicial Process from the University of Virginia.

The Texas native affectionately called "Father Texas" was never far from his boots and cowboy hat. His friendly wave and daily presence will be sorely missed by the Texas A&M School of Law faculty, staff, and students.

Over the years, his students have exhibited a fierce loyalty to him – cherishing not only his insights into family law, juvenile justice, legislation, and more, but likewise the wisdom he imparted about the nature of effective lawyering. His anecdotes, recollections, and “Spurlockisms” made him a favorite professor both in class and for student swearing-in ceremonies.

“Whether studying, practicing, enforcing, making, judging, or teaching the law, I have generally enjoyed the activities I’ve done and the people I’ve met doing so.  A life of service in the law is neither irksome nor tedious; it is ever-changing, providing daily opportunities for personal growth and satisfaction.” – Judge Joe Spurlock II

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