Dallas County Democrats
In Memory:
Oscar Mauzy

OBITUARY:

Justice Oscar Holcombe Mauzy, champion of the people and friend of the underdog, died peacefully after a brave battle against lung cancer on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2000.

Born to Harry Lincoln Mauzy, Sr. and Mildred Eva Kincaid Mauzy on Nov. 9, 1926, Oscar was the sixth of eight children and the namesake of long-time Houston mayor Oscar Holcombe. Although his father's death when Oscar was only three prevented Oscar from knowing him, he was always proud of his father's work as a union organizer. The family was raised by Mildred Mauzy in Houston's Fifth Ward.

When his mother refused to sign Navy enlistment papers for him the day after Pearl Harbor, fifteen year old Oscar went on be salutatorian of Jeff Davis High School and promptly thereafter joined the Navy on his own. Although Oscar was prone to take credit for winning the war in the Pacific, we will not do so here. He served as a Radar Man, 3rd Class aboard the USS Washington.

The G.I. bill allowed Oscar to move from working in the Houston oil refineries to The University of Texas and a law degree in 1952. In a sign of things to come, Oscar (as President of the Mid-Law Class) led a strike when a course catalogue change by Dean Keeton was going to require his class to take more hours. Oscar met with the Dean and resolved the issue favorably for the class, but refused meeting at the Dean's office because he would have had to cross the picket line.

Oscar, like his father, was called to the cause of labor and joined the Dallas labor law firm headed by Otto Mullinax and Nat Wells. His first assignment was as a driver in Ralph W. Yarborough's campaign for governor. From that humble beginning, he went on to be a driving force in the battle for single member legislative districts and was then elected to the State Senate from Oak Cliff, Dallas County, Texas in 1966.

His Senate career was best summarized in a 1993 speech by his Senate and Supreme Court colleague Congressman Lloyd Doggett: "Our statute books overflow with the fruits of his labors as a Texas Senator - educational reform, equal rights for women, consumer protection, open government, and improvements in the civil justice system."

On Valentine's Day 1976 Oscar married his high school friend, the former Anne Rogers, a partnership that flourished and brought happiness to many people who were privileged to know and love them. When twelve senators, with Oscar as one of the leaders, broke a Senate quorum to protest a separate day presidential primary they felt would undermine the progressive forces in the Democratic Party the legend of the "Killer Bees" was born. After the absent senators spent several days cramped in a garage apartment, Oscar was honored by his fellow rebels with "The World's Loudest Snorer" award.

A life-long ambition was fulfilled when Oscar was elected to the Texas Supreme Court in 1986. While on the Court he was a steadfast and forceful spokesman for the people's right to trial-by-jury. Oscar's lifelong passion for public education and every Texas child's equal right to access educational resources culminated in his authorship of the Court's unanimous opinion in Edgewood v. Kirby declaring the state's mechanism for funding public education unconstituional.

Oscar left the Court in 1993, but never left the fight for justice. Perhaps the most succinct and accurate description of Oscar was made by writer and friend Molly Ivins in a 1992 column: "Mauzy is an incurably merry soul who has always loved tweaking power. He spent 20 years in the Texas Senate, where he was a stalwart fighter for truth, beauty and justice. But always with that slightly devilish twinkle in his eye. I'm afraid Mauzy enjoys a good fight."

Up until he entered the hospital for his last stay he continued his support and involvement in Democratic Party activities. Like Sam Rayburn, Oscar was "a Democrat without suffix, without prefix and without apology." Oscar lived his belief in equality for all in many ways, but was especially supportive of young women's educational and athletic opportunities. He and Anne not only held season tickets to UT Women's Basketball and Volleyball games but also established a scholarship to support women athletes as well as professorship in the College of Education. In recent years he also served on the UT Women's Athletics Council.

In 1985 Oscar courageously faced and won a battle with alcoholism. Thereafter he attempted to set a positive example that would encourage others struggling with alcoholism to overcome the disease. Oscar is survived by his wife Anne, children Catherine A. Mauzy, Austin: Charles F. Mauzy, Dallas; James S. Mauzy, Dallas; stepchildren Melanie Kofnovec and daughter Kristina; Jennifer Tyson; Randy Rister, wife Elaine and sons Blaine and Bradley; a sister, Mildred Mary Burdick, Austin and sister-in-law, Eloise Mauzy, Houston as well as many nieces, nephews and hundreds of people to whom he was a mentor during his lengthy law practice and while in the Senate and on the Supreme Court. The family would like to express their sincere appreciation to the many medical professionals who cared for Oscar during his illness, especially Dr. Bali Netaji, Dr. William McCarron, and Dr. Rebecca Traylor.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorial contributions be made to:
Oscar & Anne Mauzy Endowment for Educational Policy Studies & Research
University of Texas at Austin
Dean, College of Education
Sanchez Bldg., Room 210
Austin, TX 78712


For those of you interested, these are a few quotes from Justice Mauzy that I have found in the legal cases--except for the first quote. Many are "legalistic," but if you read them, you will understand the caliber of this man. --Ken Molberg, Dallas County Co-Chair, Texans for Gore-Lieberman

QUOTES FROM OSCAR MAUZY:

"Forgive and Remember" -As told to me and many others by Oscar Mauzy throughout the years.

MAUZY, Justice, dissenting:

Torts professors, revise your syllabi. The court today recognizes a new, distinct cause of action that must be plead as an independent claim: negligent failure to pre-bag chickens. --H.E. Butt Grocery Co. v. Warner

MAUZY, Justice, dissenting:

Today's opinion represents yet another setback for small businesses across this state. Once again, the majority ignores a jury verdict in favor of a small business, substituting its own judgment for that of a jury of ordinary Texans; and once again, the more powerful interest prevails. --T.O. Stanley Boot Co., Inc. v. Bank of El Paso

MAUZY, Justice, dissenting on motion for rehearing:

The majority gives some friendly advice to those who create hazardous conditions: Look the other way. Ignorance of the law may be no defense, but hereafter ignorance of what your own employees did will be. In creating this new "ignorance defense," the majority continues its assault on precedent. . . . --Keetch v. Kroger Co.

MAUZY, Justice, dissenting:

Many people talk about the clumsiness of governmental bureaucracies. Few, however, embrace it as warmly as the majority does today. Abandoning the standard of conduct traditionally applied in this and other jurisdictions, the majority gives its seal of approval to bureaucratic bungling that can cause millions of dollars in damages to Texas landowners. I dissent --Westgate, Ltd. v. State

MAUZY, Justice, dissenting:

Once again wrongfully disregarding a jury verdict, the court has rejected vital protection for Texas businesses. Ignoring a long-standing contract and the circumstances surrounding it, the court abandons motor vehicle dealers and other small businesses across the state to the whims of powerful franchisors. These massive enterprises are invited to enter our state and abuse local businesses without fear of reproach from Texas courts. --Crim Truck & Tractor Co. v. Navistar Intern. Transp. Corp.

MAUZY, Justice, dissenting:

In this extraordinary proceeding, the Republican Relators object to a redistricting plan designed to increase Mexican-American representation in the Texas Senate. This plan has received pre-clearance approval from the Department of Justice under the administration of President George Bush and has been approved in a timely manner by the trial court so as to avoid disruption of both the filing deadline and the election day for the party primaries. Finding this highly distasteful, and determined to have an appointed federal judiciary guide the process by which Texans elect their legislators, the Relators demand that this court accept their condemnation of Attorney General Dan Morales . . . and declare void the redistricting plan he negotiated.

While careful to pay their personal respects to Mr. Morales as an individual, Justices Gonzalez and Cornyn enthusiastically agree with the Relators. Unwilling to accept this extremist view, which is wholly lacking in constitutional foundation and which would have incredible implications in handicapping the state's handling of future litigation, Justices Hecht, Phillips and Cook specifically deny the very relief sought against the Attorney General. These three must invent a basis for relief not urged by Relators in their petition, briefs or oral argument but essential to achieving the result which was preordained the day this cause was set for argument. --Terrazas v. Ramirez

MAUZY, Justice, dissenting:

A three-ring circus is underway: in the near ring, a majority of this court doing a sidestepping act; in the far ring, President Bush's Department of Justice doing a juggling act; and in the center ring, three appointed federal judges taming the legislative lion. Unfortunately, the people of Texas are being had, not entertained. In this latest development, the majority wants to sweep under the rug new revelations that indicate the injustice it has previously accomplished. Because I believe this injustice should be corrected, not forgotten, I dissent. Rather than summarily rejecting the motion for rehearing, the majority should reconsider the case, withdraw the prior opinions, commend Judge Ramirez for appropriately handling this matter, and apologize to the people of this state for the millions of dollars of taxpayer monies wasted by the wholly-unwarranted prior decision. --Terrazas v. Ramirez

MAUZY, Justice, dissenting:

There once was a time when this state's constitution protected debtors from garnishment of wages. --Orange County v. Ware

MAUZY, Justice, dissenting:

Once again, the court sides with the government and against the individual, depriving an injured party of the relief to which a jury found he was entitled. I dissent. . . The Texas Constitution guarantees every injured individual a remedy by due course of law, Tex. Const. art. I, 13 and 19, as well as the right to a trial by jury, Tex. Const. art. I, 15. Today's decision violates both of those guarantees. --Fort Bend County Drainage Dist. v. Sbrusch

MAUZY, Justice, dissenting:

Because the court allows the Relator, City of San Antonio, to circumvent the statutory requirements of the Open Meetings Act, I dissent. --City of San Antonio v. Fourth Court of Appeals

MAUZY, Justice, dissenting:

The argument that attorney-judges are better equipped to decide appellate legal malpractice cases is elitist. We do not impanel a jury of physicians to decide a medical malpractice case. Because the court has circumvented the constitutional right to trial by jury to assist lawyers, I dissent. --Millhouse v. Wiesenthal

MAUZY, Justice, concurring and dissenting:

This case involves the question of whether the standard of care owed by the operator of a school bus to a student passenger is a high degree of care or merely ordinary care. . . . I respectfully dissent because I cannot agree with the court's refusal to hold school districts to a high degree of care in transporting children of tender years. --Mount Pleasant Independent School Dist. v. Estate of Lindburg By and Through Lindburg

MAUZY, Justice, dissenting:

This case, in particular, makes all too apparent the extent to which the right of trial by jury can be violated under the rubric of factual sufficiency review. If the evidence in a case is such that reasonable minds could differ, then the jury is the proper body to decide what facts are or are not proved. Part of the proof in a case includes the witnesses themselves, their demeanor, their voice modulation, and the gut feeling they project to the jurors. These are aspects of a case to which an appellate judge has no access. The right of trial by jury is fundamental to our entire system of jurisprudence. . . . The language of article I, section 15 is particularly clear and unambiguous: "the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate." . . .

"Inviolate" is a strong word. Webster's New International Dictionary (2d ed. 1960) defines "inviolate" as "unimpaired" or "unprofaned." Other dictionaries define it as "sacred" or "pure." Less than three months ago, this court expressly recognized the inherent sanctity of the right of trial by jury as guaranteed under the Texas Constitution. . . . Now, however, the court merely pays lip service to this sacred right. Talk is cheap. It is time for the court to show courage and restore the right of trial by jury to its proper constitutionally established role in the Texas legal system. . . .

The sanctity of the right to jury trial should be restored. --Herbert v. Herbert

MAUZY, Justice, dissenting:

I respectfully dissent. I disagree with the court's treatment of the definitions of "handicap" and "handicapped person" and in the conclusion that Redmon's visual impairment was not a handicap as a matter of law. . . . I would also hold that the question of whether an individual is or is not a handicapped person constitutes a fact question for the jury's determination. Questions of fact exist regarding whether or not Redmon's impaired vision and limited ability to judge distances constitutes a handicap and whether such a condition would impair her ability to reasonably perform the job of maintenance helper. --Chevron Corp. v. Redmon

MAUZY, Justice, concurring:

Six months ago, a majority of this court broadly construed . . . the Texas Constitution to prevent Pattilou Dawkins from running for state representative. . . . While acknowledging the harshness of that result, the court solemnly declared that "the power to change such a result lies not in our hands, but in the hands of the sovereign people of the State of Texas." Today, though, the court has no such compunctions about changing the law. . . . This time. . . the Chairman of the Republican Party . . . changed his mind. --Wentworth v. Meyer

MAUZY, Justice, concurring:

I concur in the court's decision to allow an unemancipated minor child to pursue a cause of action against his or her parent for the negligence of a parent in operating a motor vehicle. The doctrine of parental immunity should only be retained with respect to acts which involve a reasonable exercise of parental authority or the exercise of parental discretion in providing for the care and necessities of a child. In all other cases this judicially created doctrine should be abandoned. --Jilani By and Through Jilani v. Jilani

MAUZY, Justice, concurring:

This proceeding should never have arisen. In appointing Judge Stephen Preslar to preside over this case, the Chief Justice of this court acted entirely outside the scope of any legitimate power. As such, the assignment of Judge Preslar was void ab initio. This case illustrates the inherent flaw of any system that would allow one political figure to appoint judges without accountability to the voters. The potential for abuse of that power is too tempting. . . . From all that confronts us in the record, it appears that the appointment of this particular judge to hear this particular case was simply an edict handed down from on high. --State v. Preslar

MAUZY, Justice, concurring:

I concur with the court's result; however, I respectfully submit that the time has come to abolish the legal myth of interspousal immunity. . . . . Such a rule has no basis in 20th century reason and should be abolished. The doctrine of interspousal immunity is more aptly termed "a rule in derogation of married women." --Stafford v. Stafford

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