James Rankin Norvell

Portrait of James Rankin Norvell Headstone Photograph

James R. Norvell
Sept. 24, 1902 - Oct. 22, 1969
Associate Justice Court of Civil Appeals
Fourth Supreme Court Judicial District
Jan. 1, 1940 - Jan. 1, 1957
Associate Justice Texas Supreme Court
Jan. 1, 1957 - Oct. 10, 1968
Mabel Elizabeth Norvell
Mar. 22, 1903 Nov. 18, 1990

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Full Name: James Rankin Norvell
Location: Section:Republic Hill, Section 2 (C2)
Row:L  Number:14
Reason for Eligibility: Associate Justice, Fourth Court of Civil Appeals; Associate Justice, Supreme Court of Texas 
Birth Date: September 24, 1902 
Died: October 22, 1969 
Burial Date: October 27, 1969 

NORVELL, JAMES R. (1902 ~ 1969). James R. Norvell, lawyer and judge, was born in Hayden, Colorado, on September 24, 1902, the son of Robert Elias and Jane (Ralston) Norvell.

He attended the University of Colorado in Boulder for four years, and continued there for an additional three years to receive his law degree. He was admitted to the Texas bar in 1926, and practiced in Edinburg until 1940. From 1930 to 1940 he worked as a partner in the Kelley, Looney, and Norvell law firm. In 1940 he was appointed associate justice of the Fourth Court of Civil Appeals for San Antonio, where he served sixteen years. Norvell was elected associate justice of the state Supreme Court in 1956. He retired on December 31, 1968.

While teaching at St. Mary's School of Law in San Antonio, Norvell became a distinguished trustee for the university. He was an active worker for the bar at the local and state levels. He also served as chairman of the State Bar Committee on Administration of Justice in 1951-52. He then served as chairman of the State Bar Judicial Section in 1954-55.

In Texas, Norvell was celebrated as a well-known, popular speaker at awards banquets and in other venues. He also wrote for several legal journals. Of the 677 opinions he wrote in civil cases, only twenty-five were reversed by the Supreme Court-a record. His best known opinion upheld the legality of a Mexican land grant on Padre Island from a case in 1829. On April 21, 1927, Norvell married Mabel Elizabeth Granger; they had no children.

Justice Norvell was a Democrat and an Episcopalian. He died on October 24, 1969, apparently of a heart attack, in San Antonio, Texas.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin. Who's Who in the South and Southwest, Vol. 8.

Blaire Pollard

Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "NORVELL, JAMES R," http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/NN/fnohc.html (accessed September 9, 2005).

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