TCU alumna Ann Crawford McClure is the first woman to be appointed Chief Justice of the Texas Eighth Court of Appeals in El Paso, Texas. McClure will begin serving Oct. 12 as the 14th Chief Justice in the court’s 100-year history. She graduated magna cum laude from TCU in 1975 with a degree in communications before attending the University of Houston School of Law. McClure worked in family and appellate law until she was elected as a justice to the Eighth Court of Appeals in 1995. TCU awarded McClure the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1999.
Q: How do you feel about being the first female in your position?
A: I am thrilled, honored and humbled. My court just celebrated our centennial anniversary this past June so as we start the second hundred years of the courts’ existence, I am the 14th chief justice and the first female. There have only been 32 judges that have ever served as a justice on this court in the entire 100 years. That is a tremendous legacy, and I feel a great deal of responsibility. We have had, in the last 25 years, a great approach towards diversity in our court. Historically, the judges were Anglo-males. In 1992, the first Hispanic was appointed chief justice in our court followed by the first Asian-American chief justice and now the first female. A former chief justice on the court of criminal appeals told us we were the rainbow coalition, and I think that is pretty much true.
Q: What was your experience like at TCU?
A: I love TCU! I still bleed purple. I have a number of dear friends and former law clerks who are attorneys at TCU. On Jan. 1 of this year I was administering the oath of office to the new incoming county judge for El Paso County and my only comment was that we have to be finished before kickoff because I wanted to be home to watch the game. I had a tremendous experience at the school. I thought that the faculty was wonderful. I enjoyed Greek life, I made a number of friends that are still very dear friends to me and I still come back to Fort Worth every chance I get.
Q: How do you think TCU affected you and helped shape your career?
A: When I was applying to TCU, I was interested in becoming a secondary education teacher in speech and debate. When I started looking through the catalog at TCU, they had a wonderful communication department, and it fascinated me. I enrolled intending that to be my major and I got immersed in it. It was just a tremendous experience. I graduated with my bachelor’s in fine arts and people ask how was that preparation for law school. It is very simple if you are a litigator, which I was before I became a judge. What you are trying to do is package a product, which is your client, and sell that product to the jury. You have to be able to understand how to communicate with each and every juror on a level that they understand even in the most complicated and technological cases. It taught me not only how technology works and by no means were we where we are now, but it gave me the capability to see what the future could possibly be. Now that we are on the cutting edge of technology going forward in the courts, that is where it started. That is where my interest in it started. I think I was very well prepared there. I had an interest in news. I worked at the TCU television station and a radio station my junior and senior year. If I had not had those opportunities, I would not have the communication skills I have now. It has served me well through litigation and serves me well now when I go out to campaign.
Q: What do you want the TCU community to know about the justice system?
A: They need to be invested in their local justice system. You have judges in your beautiful courthouse downtown that are making decisions every day about matters that affect peoples’ lives tremendously. They want people to be interested in what they do and the quality of their service. We have a very hard time getting the public to recognize the significance of judicial elections and I can tell you that they are more important on the local level than they are anywhere else. If we can get that word out-which is what I try to do by starting to talk to high school students and preferably younger about the importance of involvement-then we can get an electorate that is fully educated on who the candidates are, why their qualifications are important, what qualifications are important and what kind of a jurist they will be.
Q: Is there anything about you that you would like the TCU community to know?
A: One of the most amazing experiences of my life was when I was selected in 1999 as the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year at TCU. To be recognized by the university for my contributions to my community meant everything to me. I have been the recipient of a number of honors that mean a lot to me, but having my university, and it is my university, consider me worthy of that award was very humbling indeed.