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Harriet O誰eill (Watch Video)
Harriet O誰eill image
Public Service

Year Inducted:
2012



Harriet O誰eill has served at every level of our state court system, including two terms as a Justice on the Supreme Court of Texas. During nearly 18 years on the bench, O誰eill forged a legacy of helping low-income Texans with basic civil legal needs, and strengthening our courts for families in the child-protection system.

O誰eill earned her undergraduate degree with honors from Converse College and her JD at the University of South Carolina School of Law, where she was an academic honors society member and the law school representative to the American Bar Association. She practiced law in Houston for over a decade, concentrating primarily in business and commercial litigation.

O誰eill痴 judicial career began in 1992 with her election to Houston痴 152nd District Court. In 1995, then-Governor George W. Bush appointed O誰eill to the 14th Court of Appeals, and she won election to that seat the following year.

O誰eill was elected to the Texas Supreme Court in 1998, and to a second term in 2004. During her tenure, Justice O誰eill helped create the Texas Access to Justice Commission, to expand access to justice in civil legal matters for disadvantaged Texans. She worked to increase and leverage resources for the Commission痴 work during difficult economic times, and helped create a free Protective Order Kit to assist victims of domestic violence. Recognizing her work, the U.S. Attorney General appointed O誰eill to serve on the National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women.

A passionate advocate for abused and neglected children, O誰eill was instrumental in the Supreme Court痴 establishment of the Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families, to improve judicial handling of child-protection cases. When O誰eill retired from the Court in 2010, she was appointed the Commission痴 Chair Emeritus.

O誰eill is the Court痴 longest-serving female Justice, and was the first woman to preside as Chief Justice when two of her senior colleagues were recused in a case.

Among many honors, O誰eill was twice named Appellate Justice of the Year, and has received an honorary Ph.D. from Converse College, the Distinguished Alumnae Award from the University of South Carolina, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner痴 Award and the National Center for State Courts Distinguished Service Award one of the highest national recognitions for significant contributions to the judicial field.

Today, O誰eill is a frequent speaker, and practices law statewide and nationally through her firm, The Law Office of Harriet O誰eill, PC. She and her husband, Kerry Cammack, have three children and live in Austin.



Copyright 2012 Texas Women's Hall of Fame, All rights reserved.

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